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fastlanedude
May 11, 2009, 12:22 PM
:mad:
I am for gun rights. Dammit, I own 4 guns. But I think this story sucks, and ****** me off. I have heard, in Texas, you can shoot someone for trespassing. This paranoid, stupid, immoral couple needs to be shot! 5/11/09
7-year-old Texas boy dies in off-road shooting

HOUSTON (AP) - A 7-year-old boy has died after authorities say he was shot by a married couple who thought he and others who were off-roading were trespassing on their property.

Liberty County Sheriff's Cpl. Hugh Bishop said Donald Coffey Jr. died Saturday morning, less than two days after he was struck in the head with a shotgun blast.

The boy, his father, his 5-year-old sister and a family friend were off-roading outside of Houston late Thursday when they were shot after stopping their vehicles so the children could go to the bathroom.

Donald Coffey Sr. had a pellet wound in his right shoulder.

Coffey's daughter, Destiny, was hit in the elbow but was in good condition.

A hospital spokeswoman said 30-year-old Patrick Cammack, the family friend, was upgraded from critical condition after being shot in the head.

hogdogs
May 11, 2009, 12:39 PM
The couple is charged with felonies thus far and could yet face murder charges...
Brent

johnwilliamson062
May 11, 2009, 12:41 PM
man, was hoping we had a post by a real loon that would take the admin heat off of me. What does the title have to do with the story?

To the topic:
That person is still going to face one heck of a civil liability fight, and this is one of the few times I will say what seems to be possibly criminally justified is very deserving of a civil liability suit.

I would guess this was a person who has been waiting for years to have a chance to legally end someones life. That sort of person is out there, their tool of choice is irrelevant. Quite a few have invested years into medical degrees so they can have the chance. Can't beat a sociopaths dedication with regulation.

buzz_knox
May 11, 2009, 12:51 PM
I would guess this was a person who has been waiting for years to have a chance to legally end someones life.

If that's the case, they should still be waiting. Under no stretch of the imagination could this be construed as an opportunity to "legally end someone's life." Texas allows for the use of deadly force in certain situations beyond those covered by the "standard" rules. Shooting someone for possibly trespassing isn't even close.

hogdogs
May 11, 2009, 01:00 PM
The persons shot were NOT on the property of the shooters... Wife took a shot and handed the shot gun to husband who took at least one shot. ATV riders were on a levee belonging to the subdivision. Not a legal shoot and both will likely if not already have murder charges pressed.
Brent

Brian Pfleuger
May 11, 2009, 01:05 PM
My solution would be to lock them in a room with the boys father.

hogdogs
May 11, 2009, 01:10 PM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30650051/
One link and then a local link...
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/6414373.html

A 7-year-old boy who loved playing outdoors and riding on the back of his daddy’s Harley died Saturday morning after a Liberty County couple opened fire on him and three other alleged trespassers, Liberty County Sheriff’s Cpl. Hugh Bishop said.

“He was just a little country boy … who liked to kick off his shoes,” said Joseph Breland, a neighbor and close family friend.

Donald Coffey Jr., his father and friends were on their way back from joy riding near a levee and swimming in the Trinity River around 9 p.m. Thursday when homeowners Gale and Sheila Muhs fired at them with a 12-gauge shotgun, police say.

The Muhses, both 45, are charged with aggravated assault and are being held in the Liberty County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail each. The couple is expected to appear in state district court in the coming week.

Authorities are considering upgrading the charge to murder or capital murder, Bishop said.

The boy, struck in the face, was among eight people, including four children, who had been on the river outing. Four people, including another child, were shot.

The boy’s 5-year-old sister, Destiny, and their father, Donald Coffey Sr., 36, were hit but have been treated by doctors and released.

The fourth shooting victim is family friend Patrick Cammack, 30, whose condition has improved since surgery. Doctors had to leave a bullet in his head, said his wife, Cindy Nelton, who was also there that night.

Nelton said the ordeal happened over two or three minutes in “pitch darkness.”

She said she was driving a sport utility vehicle with the boy’s mother, Becky Coffey. Two of the women’s children, including Destiny, were in the back.

Driving alongside them in a Jeep were Cammack, the elder Coffey, “Little Donald” and Cammack’s son.

The men stopped to use the bathroom and got out of the Jeep near the Muhses’ home in the Westlake subdivision south of Dayton when a woman’s voice boomed through the darkness, Nelton said.

In a message peppered with expletives, she said, the voice ordered the group to get their vehicles off the property.

“And then I heard a shot and our windows were blown out,” Nelton said.

Nelton, who never saw a shooter, said she immediately stomped on the gas and screamed, “We’ve got kids in this vehicle! Y’all need to stop shooting!”

A second shot, and possibly others, came in reply.
‘There was blood all over’

Nelton said she sped to safety near a bridge, unaware of the Jeep’s location.

Becky Coffey opened the door to the SUV to go look for her husband and son. When the inside light came on, a bloodied Destiny was in the back seat screaming.

“She said, ‘Mama, they shot me. Mommy, they shot me.’ There was blood all over her,” Nelton said.

Nelton rushed the girl to a nearby fire station while Becky Coffey frantically searched on foot for her other family members. The victims were taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital via air ambulance.

Meanwhile, Sheila Muhs — whose home is fronted by a sign warning: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will” — had called 911. Bishop said the woman told a dispatcher: “They’re running over our levee in big-wheel vehicles, and I shot them.” Officials have not released the 911 tape.

Nelton said justice, for her, is simple.

“They need to be dead,” she said of the Muhses.

On Saturday, authorities were trying to determine details, such as the visibility that night, distance between the victims and the shooters, and property lines in the rural area along the river.

“Little Donald” lived his entire life in the area, riding four-wheelers and running along the Trinity’s banks.

“You couldn’t ask for a better-spirited kid,” Breland, the neighbor, said.

cindy.horswell@chron.com
cindy.george@chron.com

madmo44mag
May 11, 2009, 01:14 PM
The persons shot were NOT on the property of the shooters... Wife took a shot and handed the shot gun to husband who took at least one shot. ATV riders were on a levee belonging to the subdivision. Not a legal shoot and both will likely if not already have murder charges pressed.
Brent

These folks need help can't you tell that by there poor pitiful (spelling error intended) faces.
I have a degree is helping poor souls like these.
It's the 44 step, Magnum remorse therapy course.

All jokes aside this was not a legal shooting.
The act did not occur on their property, no threat was evident.
Under Texas law they had no justification in their actions.

I hope an investigation yields more on these two.
They look like meth heads IMHO!!!!

ar15chase
May 11, 2009, 01:17 PM
That is a sad sad story right there. I am disgusted. I am all for defending my property, but I am not going to shoot somebody for cutting across my lawn. I just dont see how a grown man and woman could think that those people were a threat to their saftey. I dont think that either of them should ever see the light of day again. And I second the idea that they should be locked in a room with the kid's dad.

johnwilliamson062
May 11, 2009, 02:06 PM
so, if this had been on their property, would it have been legal? I don't think anyone is arguing the morality of the case, but, legally, if it was on their property?

hogdogs
May 11, 2009, 02:07 PM
I don't know if 4 wheeler ruts in your texas yard is grounds for the use of lethal force... waitin' fer the texas bunch to chime in...:rolleyes:
Brent

Bartholomew Roberts
May 11, 2009, 02:09 PM
Here is the Texas law on the subject:

(a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.

(b) A person unlawfully dispossessed of land or tangible, movable property by another is justified in using force against the other when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to reenter the land or recover the property if the actor uses the force immediately or in fresh pursuit after the dispossession and:

(1) the actor reasonably believes the other had no claim of right when he dispossessed the actor; or

(2) the other accomplished the dispossession by using force, threat, or fraud against the actor.

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

(2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

(B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

(3) he reasonably believes that:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Looking at that, I don't see any way these people can make a serious claim for protection under Texas law. In order to claim some defense regarding criminal mischief at nighttime, they first need to show that the use of force was "immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property."

Considering the circumstances, I think they will have a real hard time showing that - especially since right now it isn't even clear that there was a trespass on their property.

I just hope they weren't encouraged into such a stupid, reckless action by the many misbegotten beliefs about Texas use of deadly force laws often propagated on gun discussion boards.

ar15chase
May 11, 2009, 02:10 PM
You cant kill someone just for being on your property. There has to be a threat to a person or property, to justify it. This isnt the wild west.

csmsss
May 11, 2009, 02:29 PM
No, not a legit shooting under even the most fanciful reading of Texas statutes. Here's hoping both of these cretins get the death penalty.

OuTcAsT
May 11, 2009, 02:31 PM
As opposed to the case of the Florida farmer , this was a bad shoot. These people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Hellbilly5000
May 11, 2009, 02:41 PM
Any way you look at it they are going to have a real hard time convincing a jury that they were justified in any way. Although in Texas the law allows you to use deadly force to protect your property from damage or theft. I don't think they will be able to convince a jury that there lawn was worth killing an innocent child over

markj
May 11, 2009, 02:42 PM
I sure do feel for the family of this boy. My boy will get extra hugs tonight.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 11, 2009, 02:43 PM
By the way, based on the Liberty County property records, here is an aerial view of the Muh's property and the terrain where this incident occurred:

http://maps.google.com/maps?sourceid=navclient&q=094%C2%B049'49%22W,+029%C2%B056'30%22N&ie=UTF8&hl=en&ll=29.943835,-94.81257&spn=0.002752,0.005327&t=h&z=18

Although in Texas the law allows you to use deadly force to protect your property from damage or theft.

Only if it is "immediately necessary to prevent or stop the trespass." I think they are going to have a very difficult time arguing that it was immediately necessary to stop this particular trespass (if it was even a trespass).

KingEdward
May 11, 2009, 03:08 PM
unless you're a sniper, this is at least negligent homicide.

why on earth would anyone shoot at something not even on
one's own property. Frustration over the levy will not mean
diddly to jurors.

unless something is missing in the story, this couple is finished.

and rightly so.

Tikirocker
May 11, 2009, 04:02 PM
Who would shoot an innocent 7 year old boy dead like these so-called people did? I'll tell ya ... SCUM! I hope Texas makes good on its death penalty traditions in this regard.

Tiki.

madmo44mag
May 11, 2009, 04:28 PM
The states just order a new supply of needles, but I think we can save the states some cash and end it all on .78 cents.
Ok cheaper if we use a 22lr but I would suspect the heads of these two individuals in very dense based on their actions.

OuTcAsT
May 11, 2009, 05:35 PM
Unless they are galactically stupid, or find a lawyer that is, then I doubt this will go to trial. I would suspect a plea to avoid a 1st degree murder conviction. If it does go to trial I'll bet the most they get is 2nd degree or CNH. A pity.

SteelJM1
May 11, 2009, 07:12 PM
Too bad the media will jump all over guns with this one, even though the tool that killed these people is irrelevant. One of my old coworkers was killed when a person strung a chain across two trees on a known 4 wheeling path that went through his property. Should the kids have been 4 wheeling there? No. Does that justify putting a deadly trap there to stop them? Absolutely not.

Double Naught Spy
May 11, 2009, 09:09 PM
I am for gun rights. Dammit, I own 4 guns. But I think this story sucks, and ****** me off.

Well, the story has nothing to do with gun rights. Murder or negligent homicide does suck, no doubt.

This paranoid, stupid, immoral couple needs to be shot!

It may be paranoid, stupid, and immoral, but the important thing here is that it is illegal, assuming what is described is accurate.

shortwave
May 11, 2009, 11:31 PM
+ 10 Double Naught. If this went down as stated, this is murder and should be tried as such. Nothing to do with gun rights. The anti`s will be on this one like a "duck on a June bug".

Mike Irwin
May 12, 2009, 12:05 AM
Alright, folks, let's simmer down.

We needn't express our dismay or disgust coming up with new and more inventive ways to execute them.

omkhan
May 12, 2009, 03:08 AM
Seems to me that they were waiting for such moment all their life, a little excuse to shoot some one?
"The wife took a shot & handed to husband who took another shot"??? DAMN what were they doing? hunting doves or what? I would really like them to receive capital punishment. This is simply a cold blooded murder.

imthegrumpyone
May 12, 2009, 04:27 AM
Neighborhood looks like a "Darwin Theme Park" what do you expect ? Just another :o for Texas.

CowTowner
May 12, 2009, 06:39 AM
Here's hoping the shooters get a quick and fair trial by a jury of their peers.
Texas law and the court system are now involved and it's out of our hands.
Let the system do its job, folks. It's the American way.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 12, 2009, 07:20 AM
Another point I discovered in looking at the property records is that the shooters were relative newcomers to the area, having purchased the property from a relative less than 2 years ago.

I just cannot imagine anybody being so callous and can't help but wonder where they got the attitude that this was an acceptable solution. Hopefully, it wasn't from reading Brady articles mischaracterizing Texas gun laws like the Castle Law.

Dingoboyx
May 12, 2009, 07:41 AM
My deepest simpathy an condolences to little Donalds family & loved ones...

I hope justice is dealt swiftly and a lesson is learned by others who similarly think killing people for such rediculous reason (or lack of) might refrain from doing the same in the future.

I hope the shooters are proud of themselves...... may they rot in 'you know where'

Double Naught Spy
May 12, 2009, 07:42 AM
Hopefully, it wasn't from reading Brady articles mischaracterizing Texas gun laws like the Castle Law.

Or hopefully it wasn't because they were staunch gun supporters who firmly believed that they could push the limit of the law based on their extremist right wing beliefs combined with their own personal right wing views of Texas law and how the law should be in their opinion. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Why would you even interject this with some sort of Brady issue when it has nothing to do with Brady? It sounds like you are just fabricating a way to stir up anti-gun disgust for no apparent reason other than to do so when such Brady concerns are no in evidence from anything so far. Mike Irwin suggests simmering down and you seem to be furiously fanning the flames.

We can fabricate any sort of hostile theories, but how is that even remotely relevant to the discussion given the information?

Bartholomew Roberts
May 12, 2009, 10:58 AM
Why would you even interject this with some sort of Brady issue when it has nothing to do with Brady?

Well, considering how much effort the Brady Campaign put into deliberately distorting the view of what was legal during debates on Castle Doctrine laws, I think it does have some relation to this topic. For example:

Sarah Brady, Chair of the Brady Campaign, says that they have shipped information about the law to more than 120 leading U.S. and international journalists, as well as to trade publication editors in the travel industry and editors at consumer travel magazines. The inflammatory ads, which are being placed in key gateway cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and selected overseas markets, read: "Thinking about a Florida vacation? Please ensure your family is safe. A new law in the Sunshine State authorizes nervous or frightened residents to use deadly force. In Florida, avoid disputes. Use special caution in arguing with motorists on Florida roads." The flyers being handed out suggest ludicrous rules visitors should follow: Avoid unnecessary arguments with local people; stay in their cars and keep hands in plain sight if involved in a traffic accident or near-miss; and maintain a positive attitude and avoid shouting or threatening gestures if someone appears to be hostile toward them. Source (http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/10-6-2005-78297.asp)

Or how about this one?

LET'S SAY that you're behind the wheel and think someone wants to carjack your automobile and cause you bodily harm. Or suppose you get into a dispute with another shopper over a place in the supermarket's checkout line, and the shopper's aggressive behavior causes you to fear imminent peril. In both cases, you could -- and common sense suggests that you should — retreat or back away from the scene if it can be done safely. But in Florida under a measure passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature last week, you would no longer have a duty to escape or retreat before resorting to the use of deadly force. The bill, signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush (R), will allow people in Florida — without fear of criminal prosecution or civil action — to shoot, stab or pummel to death anyone who causes them to fear for their lives outside of their homes, on the street, or in their cars or businesses.Source (http://www.shootfirstlaw.org/press/)

Admittedly, there is no shortage of posters running around firearms forums propagating myths about when it is legal or appropriate to use deadly force; but at least in those forums someone will usually step up and correct this misinformation when it is propagated.

Apparently the shooters in this case got the idea that it was OK to shoot at four-wheelers on their property in order to protect their levee. I'm just curious where they got that idea from since it is far beyond what anyone I know considers acceptable, moral or responsible (and I live in Texas). It is just as possible that they got it from an "It is OK in Texas" thread at Glocktalk as they got it from reading a Brady inspired quote in the Washington Post; but I'm still curious how they arrived at that conclusion that this was acceptable behavior.

Glenn E. Meyer
May 12, 2009, 11:17 AM
Let's wait for more facts. Behaviors are caused by myriad factors - external, internal and their interactions.

I'm sure we will learn more.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 12, 2009, 11:28 AM
ABC News has some new information: http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=7557222&page=1

Apparently both the Muhs have been arrested previously, though police did not say for what. The Liberty County Sheriff is saying both vehicles were on a public road and that they never trespassed on the Muh's property - and that also the levees the Muhs were concerned about are government owned. Apparently, four-wheeling on them is fairly common.

Sheila Muhs fired the first shot at the vehicle and then dropped the shotgun and pursued them on an ATV. While the vehicles were attempting to flee, one of them veered off the road and Gayle Muhs picked up the shotgun as fired the lethal shot. Police think as many as four rounds (15 pellet buckshot) may have been fired.

The Muhs are also now being charged with murder. Looking at the pictures of the Muhs and their place, I just keep thinking that this place screams "Meth Lab!"

Dingoboyx
May 12, 2009, 11:41 AM
Shooting people is not a good way of remaining 'undetected'

The best way of not being caught is to shoot yourself!

Brian Pfleuger
May 12, 2009, 11:49 AM
Scum bags for sure. They eliminated any doubt. That sign alone will leave them hanging. Does Texas still have the death penalty? These 2 are a waste of good oxygen.:mad:

hogdogs
May 12, 2009, 11:51 AM
The male suspect has at least 2 DUI arrests...
Brent

Double Naught Spy
May 12, 2009, 12:40 PM
Does TX still have the death penalty? LOL!

TX may lead the country in state executions.

OldMarksman
May 12, 2009, 12:42 PM
I don't see any way these people can make a serious claim for protection under Texas law. In order to claim some defense regarding criminal mischief at nighttime, they first need to show that the use of force was "immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property."

Bartholomew, go back over Section 9.42. Deadly force is permitted only when immediately necessary "to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief [(damaging or destroying the tangible property of the owner)] during the nighttime" or "to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property". No mention of trespass.

You have quoted part of 9.41. No mention at all of deadly force.

In most states, the only lawful recourse to trespass is to ask the trespasser to leave; after that, one is to call the for law enforcement officials, who may issue a citation or who may arrest if the trespasser refuses to leave. States vary a great deal, and there are different degrees of trespass, but the foregoing dates back many centuries to the common law. In no state is deadly force permitted for simple trespass.

You never want to injure a trespasser or risk endangering his health unless he is engaged in a more serious crime and you have no other choice.

Brian Pfleuger
May 12, 2009, 12:45 PM
Does TX still have the death penalty? LOL!

TX may lead the country in state executions.

Yeah, I know they're still bumpin' 'em off, just didn't know if they're still doing the sentence. You know, sort of like a really bad grandfather clause? (Bad if you're the guy on death row.)

Mike Irwin
May 12, 2009, 12:46 PM
Wow. Those two look like poster children for meth abuse.

They're a year younger than me, but they look as if they are in their middle to late 50s!

Vanya
May 12, 2009, 01:10 PM
In no state is deadly force permitted for simple trespass.

Yah... good post, OM. But (referring back to Bartholomew Roberts' post #12, in which he quoted from the relevant statutes) there's a distinction to be made between "use of force" and "use of deadly force" as applied to simple trespassing.

Sec. 9.41 - PROTECTION OF ONE'S OWN PROPERTY
(a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.

So in Texas, a person may use force to "prevent or terminate" trespass. But NOT deadly force, in the absence of actual or threatened "arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime" (Sec. 9.42).

It seems that this is a distinction that's too hard for some people to make. It might not be the worst thing if the Texas leg. rewrote that law a bit, to take any use of force off the table in cases of simple trespass, if this is the sort of criminal idiocy it leads to. Especially with that word "prevent" in there... "Gosh, yer Honor, I had every right to beat the livin' daylights out of those people because I was sure they were gonna trespass on my property."

No. Not a well-written, or well-thought-out, set of statutes. Between possible confusion about lethal vs. non-lethal force, and with "prevention" in there as a possible justification... these statutes are, IMHO, begging to be misinterpreted by fools like this couple.

:mad: :mad:

Bartholomew Roberts
May 12, 2009, 01:12 PM
Bartholomew, go back over Section 9.42. Deadly force is permitted only when immediately necessary "to prevent the other's imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief [(damaging or destroying the tangible property of the owner)] during the nighttime" or "to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property". No mention of trespass.

OldMarksman, I've looked at Section 9.42 a few times now. For our discussion, the important part is this first part of 9.42:

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

Until you meet the standards under 9.41, you cannot use any kind of deadly force at all. Once you meet those standards, then you can consider the other factors you listed.

You have quoted part of 9.41. No mention at all of deadly force.

Yes, because I don't think the Muhs met the immediate necessity requirements of 9.41, I didn't go into a discussion of Sec 9.42 because you cannot claim any of the defenses under Section 9.42 until you have met the requirements of Sec. 9.41.

So in Texas, a person may use force to "prevent or terminate" trespass. But NOT deadly force, in the absence of actual or threatened "arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime" (Sec. 9.42).

Correct; but another problem with this statute is the "criminal mischief during the nighttime." Criminal Mischief covers a wide range of crimes from minor Class C misdemeanors to State Felonies that are relatively serious. Here is a brief version of Sec. 28.03 covering the topic of Criminal Mischief (actual version is more involved in distinguishing the various levels of Criminal Mischief):

Sec. 28.03. CRIMINAL MISCHIEF. (a) A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner:

(1) he intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the tangible property of the owner;

(2) he intentionally or knowingly tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or

(3) he intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.

Since this incident took place at 9pm, it could have potentially qualified for "criminal mischief at nighttime" if the levees belonged to the Muhs and the Muhs could convince the jury that it was immediately necessary to shoot at the vehicles to terminate the damage to the levees. However, the levees don't belong to the Muhs, were not on their property, apparently weren't even damaged, and I don't think the Muhs would have met the immediate necessity test even if they did own the levees.

Vanya
May 12, 2009, 01:31 PM
I don't think the Muhs would have met the immediate necessity test even if they did own the levees.

I very much agree.

Thanks for clarifying the definition of "criminal mischief." For this, including the "minor Class C misdemeanors," a property owner is allowed to use deadly force?! I have to say that I don't care for this, m'self...

I think you're right, BR, this is another huge problem with this statute.

SteelJM1
May 12, 2009, 01:50 PM
Even in AZ, one can only use the THREAT of deadly force in trespassing, or property theft cases. You can't actaully pull the trigger though, so hope that the shotgun rack noise is enough to scare them away. If not, your only recourse is the call the police.

JuanCarlos
May 12, 2009, 02:05 PM
Any statute(s) written such that they would give these two dustheads the impression that this shoot even might be lawful should be reconsidered and/or clarified.

BR's post is enlightening, both because it points out that the law seems to not be on their side but also because it suggests that the only reason for this is the location of their property line and/or the definition of a phrase so malleable as "immediate necessity."

buzz_knox
May 12, 2009, 02:07 PM
My reading of the Texas statute is that an intepretation that could even in theory support this murder can only be derived by standing both the law and the observer on its head, while consuming all manner of illicit substances.

JuanCarlos
May 12, 2009, 02:20 PM
My reading of the Texas statute is that an intepretation that could even in theory support this murder can only be derived by standing both the law and the observer on its head, while consuming all manner of illicit substances.

True.

But place the victims within the couple's property lines, and suddenly you're hoping a jury accepts a reasonable definition of "immediate necessity." Moreso, you're hoping that all twelve jurors do.

It would take only one idiot with a deep love of "trespassers will be shot" signs to hang that badboy.

I see a problem with that. That's what I'm getting at. Because obviously these...insert a word here I can't use on this forum...thought the victims were on their property, and that thus this was a legal shoot. That alone seems unacceptable to me.

Vanya
May 12, 2009, 03:02 PM
My reading of the Texas statute is that an intepretation that could even in theory support this murder can only be derived by standing both the law and the observer on its head, while consuming all manner of illicit substances.

Yes, absolutely, if you're talking about "interpretation" as practiced by, oh, people who've studied law, or semi-educated people such as myself... :)

But I think what some of us are expressing concern about is the kind of "interpretation" that comes about by word of mouth, or word of Internet, among the sort of people who would put up a sign like the one this couple had on their property. And this problem is made worse by allowing the possibility of using deadly force over minor property crimes at all. In my opinion, this is a line that ought not to be crossed by private individuals over any property crime, but certainly not one that's at the level of a misdemeanor; I find this ethically abhorrent, and I'd like the laws to which I and other people are subject to have some relation to ethical norms of conduct.

And as to the role played by the consumption of illicit substances in any of this, Mike Irwin was right on when he said that "those two look like poster children for meth abuse." Oh my... goodness.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 12, 2009, 03:06 PM
Thanks for clarifying the definition of "criminal mischief." For this, including the "minor Class C misdemeanors," a property owner is allowed to use deadly force?! I have to say that I don't care for this, m'self...

BR's post is enlightening, both because it points out that the law seems to not be on their side but also because it suggests that the only reason for this is the location of their property line and/or the definition of a phrase so malleable as "immediate necessity."

Well, that isn't all of Sec 9.42... once you have met all the requirements of Sec 9.41 and you have established that "criminal mischief at nighttime" is occurring, you must also establish:

(3) he reasonably believes that:

(A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

(B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

Again, I think that would be a tough argument to sell to a jury; but it does occasionally happen. Not surprisingly, a lot seems to depend on what the local community thinks about the incident. For a better discussion about the fine points of civil and criminal liability over use of deadly force to protect property against criminal mischief/theft during nighttime check out the case of Howsley vs. Gilliam, 517 S.W.2d 531 (Tex. 1975). This is a Texas Supreme Court case where a doctor who had shot an 18yr old boy for stealing his car battery was sued in civil court after escaping criminal charges. It goes into several older cases discussing the same issue as well.

buzz_knox
May 12, 2009, 03:20 PM
And this problem is made worse by allowing the possibility of using deadly force over minor property crimes at all.

I actually don't think that's an issue here. Texas law doesn't allow deadly force simply to prevent a property crime. It allows deadly force when a person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent of certain crimes, and no other force will allow the prevention of said crime without unreasonable risk to the actor. Distilled down, the law basically says that you are protected if the only way to reasonably stop the crime is to kill the person. It's not "I can stop this crime by shooting the person"; it's "any reasonable person would know the only rational way of stopping this crime is to shoot the person." This is most likely an outgrowth of the time when the only way crime would ever be deterred is if individual citizens took care of the matter (which is all too often the case, even now).

Assuming the riders were on the property and flagrantly trespassing, was deadly force reasonably necessary and, in fact, the only way of stopping the trespass? That's the question these "individuals" would have to convince a jury of, and I suspect the jury's answer would be a resounding and profound "no".

Vanya
May 12, 2009, 03:46 PM
Texas law doesn't allow deadly force simply to prevent a property crime. It allows deadly force when a person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent of certain crimes, and no other force will allow the prevention of said crime without unreasonable risk to the actor.

I get the legal point, but in ethical terms, this is a distinction without a difference. Mo' bettah to let the crime take place than to take a life in preventing it. I do take your point about the history involved, but even so...

Assuming the riders were on the property and flagrantly trespassing, was deadly force reasonably necessary and, in fact, the only way of stopping the trespass? That's the question these "individuals" would have to convince a jury of, and I suspect the jury's answer would be a resounding and profound "no".

Let's hope you're right... although it's worth reiterating that this statute doesn't appear to permit the use of deadly force to prevent or stop trespassing, flagrant or otherwise, under any circumstances. Given that the victims in this case apparently were not even on the property... it's hard to imagine any jury having much sympathy, least of all when one of the victims is a small child.

JuanCarlos
May 12, 2009, 04:13 PM
Yes, absolutely, if you're talking about "interpretation" as practiced by, oh, people who've studied law, or semi-educated people such as myself...

But I think what some of us are expressing concern about is the kind of "interpretation" that comes about by word of mouth, or word of Internet, among the sort of people who would put up a sign like the one this couple had on their property. And this problem is made worse by allowing the possibility of using deadly force over minor property crimes at all. In my opinion, this is a line that ought not to be crossed by private individuals over any property crime, but certainly not one that's at the level of a misdemeanor; I find this ethically abhorrent, and I'd like the laws to which I and other people are subject to have some relation to ethical norms of conduct.

Yeah, this is (sort of) what I was trying to say, only put better. I have no doubt that this shooting was illegal (regardless of whether or not they were on the property). However I don't see any bright line rules making this shooting illegal if the couple hadn't been "mistaken" as to the end of their property. That, and instances like Joe Horn (which somebody is much more likely to be familiar with than any case law you might cite), are exactly what lead chuckleheads like this to believe the shoot was legal.

Which, obviously, they did. They may be dregs of society, but nothing about their conduct suggested that they thought, as they pulled the trigger, that they were doing anything illegal. Now ask yourself, how likely is it that two idiots like this in California or Massachusetts or England or anywhere else would think the same?

Actually, I should verify the laws regarding self-defense in those jurisdictions, but I think you get the point. Obviously, that's the other end of the spectrum, and I'm not in favor of that either. I'm just saying that the farther you push down the requirements for use of deadly force, the more likely it is that "mistakes" like this will happen.

Of course, this is the part where I should offer a solution. But I got nothin'. *shrug*

44 AMP
May 14, 2009, 09:42 PM
Based on the info given here (and I haven't even looked at them, or their property), this sounds like an indefensable (undefensable?) shooting.

Who would shoot an innocent 7 year old boy dead like these so-called people did?

Without defending them in any way (and I really don't mean to sound like I am), but the facts (at this time) do not seem to indicate that the intent was to shoot a 7 year old boy dead. That was the result, and due process will make them pay. But it appears that the shots were fired at the vehicles, with no knowledge of who was inside.

It is quite likely that claiming trespass, and the legal right to shoot was the only possible excuse they could come up with (and a feeble one at that).

It may likely come out that the shooters were not of sound mind and unimpaired judgement. But making it sound like they deliberately picked off the boy as he rode by (or anything like that) doesn't aid in clear understanding of what actually happened.

When they plea bargin (and I think it highly likely they will), and they claim "we wasn't tryin' to kill anyone, just scare 'em off", then the prosecutor will decide just how to deal with it. Until then, lets just let the system work.

Yeah, my gut feeling is, after conviction, fry'em! But until then, lets not stir the pot more than we have to.

Its not a gun issue, its not a law issue. Its about a couple of apparent wack jobs who thought they had the right to shoot trespassers, and killed a little boy in the process.

Vanya
May 15, 2009, 02:22 PM
Its not a gun issue, its not a law issue. Its about a couple of apparent wack jobs who thought they had the right to shoot trespassers, and killed a little boy in the process.

It's a law issue to the extent that they misunderstood the existing statutes; the case, to me, raises the possibility that it's too easy to misread the statutes quoted here, and conflate "use of force to prevent trespass" with "use of deadly force" for the same purpose, even although the statute restricts use of deadly force to trespass combined with other property crimes, when there's an inability to prevent/stop them in other ways. I think this case makes a pretty good argument for restricting use of deadly force to defense of life, not property, as, I believe, is the case in most other places.

Double Naught Spy
May 15, 2009, 07:54 PM
Lots of folks don't know the law, but just because they do not is not a reason to modify or repeal it. It may be a reason for better education about laws, but these two don't strike me as very well educated or caring about education.

You think they were confused. At best I think they were ignorant and at worst simply disreguarded the law because it was convenient to do so.

JohnKSa
May 15, 2009, 08:06 PM
Any statute(s) written such that they would give these two dustheads the impression that this shoot even might be lawful should be reconsidered and/or clarified.It's not like these folks were law students who read the law carefully but somehow got the wrong impression from it. We're talking about ignorant idiots who believed what other ignorant idiots told them. If they ever read a single word of TX law or ever had two words of it quoted correctly to them in their entire lives it would greatly surprise me.

You don't fix that by changing laws, you fix that by making examples of ignorant idiots when they do really stupid, illegal things.

Kmar40
May 15, 2009, 11:47 PM
Without defending them in any way (and I really don't mean to sound like I am), but the facts (at this time) do not seem to indicate that the intent was to shoot a 7 year old boy dead. That was the result, and due process will make them pay. But it appears that the shots were fired at the vehicles, with no knowledge of who was inside.A distinction without a difference, legally. Undoubtedly the prosecutor will argue that they were trying to shoot the driver, at least. Transferred intent takes care of the rest.

I would say that firing into an automobile even if the methheads thought it was empty would at least be criminal recklessness and would support a manslaughter charge.

djohn
May 16, 2009, 12:29 AM
What the law say's one can do legally doesn't mean one has to follow it to the letter.

Even if they where on the land, a moral decent huming being would not or shouldn't shoot first and ask questions latter unless imminent danger.


IMO this is a case of triger happy people that just waited for opportunity to shoot somebody.


All can have been avoided with simple communication with the off roaders.

Dr. Strangelove
May 16, 2009, 01:20 AM
A sad situation.

Trespass alone does not give anyone the right to kill another human being. If and when trespassers threaten your life, we have a different situation. I've walked up on trespassers on hunting land owned by a family friend - words have been exchanged, but both of us made clear to the other we were not going to get into a gunfight. Maybe this is just the middle Georgia way, but if we get into a fight, it won't be with rifles or shotguns.

Condolences to the family who lost a child, and hopefully the aggressors in this situation will feel the full effects of the law. For the rest of us, why don't we look at this as an example of how not to behave.

qwman68
May 16, 2009, 05:02 AM
these two people must have been lunatics or something..that is truely messed up.. they had to be tweekers or something

shortwave
May 16, 2009, 09:22 AM
You don`t fix that by changing laws, you fix that by making examples out of ignorant idiots when they do really stupid, illegal things. + 10. My home/ property is about fifteen minutes from town. Easy access. Every year, deer and turkey season, its a non-stop battle with trespasser`s and poacher`s. Had a guy(idiot lives down the road) sit his 13 yr.old daughter on a stump facing a downhill ridge,no backstop, spotted with hunters. Her dad told her to shoot any deer coming down the ridge. Again on my propery. She shot approx. 2 ft. over my head. After questioning her, I found out that her dad had left her there and went home telling her if she shot a deer to come home and get him he would be asleep on the couch:confused::mad:. Alot happened after that which I won`t bore you with but bottom line is, it didn`t give me the right to shoot anyone. I `ve heard property owners say"if I`m on my own property and someone shoots close to me, I`m returning fire":rolleyes:. What if I would have shot this 13yr girl. Getting older, I`ve learned the hard way that getting mad and knee-jerk reactions usually have bad consequences that will hang a few more skeletons in your closet. Don`t need anymore of them. Trespasser`s are very annoying, self centered, slob hunters that don`t deserve the right to hunt and I wish the laws would be more strictly enforced. Again, if things stated about this story are true, these property owners are guilty of murder and should be charged as such.

tblt44
May 16, 2009, 09:30 AM
Some older people get like that I know an older lady that says she will shoot anyone that come on her property,will she do it ? maybe depending on her mood at the time.There should be a point where firearms are removed from there home just like there drivers licence gets pulled because the could kill someone.

SkySlash
May 16, 2009, 10:39 AM
I think TX law in 9.41 & 9.42 are perfectly clear in both their meaning and intent. I think they make it perfectly clear that what happened here was unjustified, and there is obviously no defense to prosecution available under either of those statutes, even if the trespassers had been on the Muhs property, and even if the Muhs owned the levees, which they didn't.

It doesn't take a law degree to figure out what happened here was murder, and given the mitigating circumstances (sign/attitude), it can very likely be considered premeditated. One can only hope there was a meth operation on the Muhs property so we can bypass the legal niceties and bump this straight up to capital murder. If the child had been 6 or under, it would have been a Capital Crime in TX, by statute.

I see no need to alter TX law to deal with morons who lack the common sense to know you can't simply kill someone for crossing your lawn. I seriously doubt the ignoramus cretins in our story have ever even heard a reading of 9.41/2, much less read it themselves.

Does anyone seriously think they, or those like them, would make any more effort to know the penal code if it was somehow altered, than they already had in the past? I think not, myself.

-SS

Glenn E. Meyer
May 16, 2009, 10:44 AM
There have been some analyses suggesting that as people get older and more irrational (loss of frontal lobe mediated inhibition), that they should lose the abilitiy to own firearms.

However, making this some special case of licensing over and above a general competency hearing opens up a tremendous can of worms. It implies that gun ownership in general requires a license. Is that something we want?

Before one suggests a giant system for such, it's more likely that our current laws will deal with them. I would prefer that rather a system to license gun owners and call in all the older folk for periodic tests.

If you do have an older relative who is unreliable (did these folks?), you might deal with it with dignity. I did see a middle aged man have to almost wrestle a rifle away from his older dad at a range when the latter wouldn't respect a ceasefire to place new targets. Twice Dad insisted he could shoot and wouldn't put down the gun.

Vanya
May 16, 2009, 11:35 AM
the facts (at this time) do not seem to indicate that the intent was to shoot a 7 year old boy dead. That was the result, and due process will make them pay. But it appears that the shots were fired at the vehicles, with no knowledge of who was inside.

Oh, and... doesn't the Fourth Rule say something about being sure of your target?

Does anyone seriously think they, or those like them, would make any more effort to know the penal code if it was somehow altered, than they already had in the past?

No -- but given the outcry there'd be if the Texas law were changed, I'm sure that word would get out even to folks like these that you can't shoot at people unless they're actually threatening you. Idiots like these might still take potshots at people, but it would make it a lot harder for them to think they were justified.

If you do have an older relative who is unreliable (did these folks?), you might deal with it with dignity. I did see a middle aged man have to almost wrestle a rifle away from his older dad at a range when the latter wouldn't respect a ceasefire to place new targets. Twice Dad insisted he could shoot and wouldn't put down the gun.

Yikes.

It's no different, really, from convincing your elderly parent that it's not safe to for them to drive any more. (I suspect many of us have had to deal with this one in some form or other.) There are better, more tactful ways of handling it than calling their insurance company or the DMV... You want to make it their decision, basically: convince them rather than coerce them. So, yes, make it a personal thing rather than trying to legislate it...

JohnKSa
May 16, 2009, 12:01 PM
No -- but given the outcry there'd be if the Texas law were changed, I'm sure that word would get out even to folks like these that you can't shoot at people unless they're actually threatening you.Yeah, what a great idea!

Two ignorant idiots commit murder, so let's change the law (effectively reduce the rights of all 24 million persons who live in the state of TX) in the hopes that action might educate other ignorant idiots.

:rolleyes:

Vanya
May 16, 2009, 12:28 PM
Two ignorant idiots commit murder, so let's change the law (effectively reduce the rights of all 24 million persons who live in the state of TX) in the hopes that action might educate other ignorant idiots.

John, if you've read my other posts in this thread, you know that's not my reasoning. What I am questioning is the ethical basis of the law itself:
...this problem is made worse by allowing the possibility of using deadly force over minor property crimes at all. In my opinion, this is a line that ought not to be crossed by private individuals over any property crime, but certainly not one that's at the level of a misdemeanor; I find this ethically abhorrent, and I'd like the laws to which I and other people are subject to have some relation to ethical norms of conduct.

Granted, I don't live in Texas, so I'm not subject to this particular law, but my point isn't about "educating ignorant idiots." It's a more fundamental one, which is that I think it's a mistake to give 24 million people the "right" to use deadly force over a minor property crime.

Double Naught Spy
May 16, 2009, 12:39 PM
Oh, and... doesn't the Fourth Rule say something about being sure of your target?

The Muhs were sure of their target...people in vehicles tearing up the levees.

No -- but given the outcry there'd be if the Texas law were changed, I'm sure that word would get out even to folks like these that you can't shoot at people unless they're actually threatening you. Idiots like these might still take potshots at people, but it would make it a lot harder for them to think they were justified.

So what you are arguing is essentially that you want the law to be changed in spite of the fact that the Muhs are idiots and that this would not have made one iota of difference in this case. That is absolutely absurd. How can you argue that the law should be changed based on this case and still argue that a change in the law would not have been effective in this case?

JohnKSa
May 16, 2009, 01:15 PM
It's a more fundamental one, which is that I think it's a mistake to give 24 million people the "right" to use deadly force over a minor property crime.Aside from the fact that it's an oversimplification to make the blanket statement that Texans have "the right to use deadly force over minor property crimes."; when you can get a majority of TX voters to agree with you then things will change.

Vanya
May 16, 2009, 01:46 PM
So what you are arguing is essentially that you want the law to be changed in spite of the fact that the Muhs are idiots and that this would not have made one iota of difference in this case. That is absolutely absurd. How can you argue that the law should be changed based on this case and still argue that a change in the law would not have been effective in this case?

No, I'm not arguing that the law should be changed based on this case. I'm arguing that the ethical underpinnings of the law are deficient.

I was making three different points, which I perhaps didn't separate clearly enough:

First, the law as it stands legitimizes conduct which I regard as unethical.

Second, the lack of a clear line between allowing the use of deadly force to protect life -- the only justification, in my opinion -- and its use to defend property, which I have serious problems with, makes it easier for the law to be misunderstood, as it may have been in this case; we have no way of knowing for sure whether, at the time of the shooting, the Muhs really believed that they were legally defending their property, but that seems to be their defense.

Third, just as we have no way of knowing whether they believed at the time that their actions were legal under current law, we have no way of knowing whether they would in fact obey the law if it were changed. However, if the law restricted the use of deadly force to defending one's person (or someone else's), there would be no room for any confusion as to whether they could reasonably have thought they were justified in shooting at a fleeing vehicle.

Aside from the fact that it's an oversimplification to make the blanket statement that Texans have "the right to use deadly force over minor property crimes."

If it's legal to do so under any circumstances which don't also involve a threat to life, I fail to see how that's an oversimplification.

when you can get a majority of TX voters to agree with you then things will change.

Oh yes, I know it's an uphill battle... :)

Double Naught Spy
May 16, 2009, 04:56 PM
First, the law as it stands legitimizes conduct which I regard as unethical.

That is funny. I think the law is hugely ethical.

Second, the lack of a clear line between allowing the use of deadly force to protect life -- the only justification, in my opinion -- and its use to defend property, which I have serious problems with, makes it easier for the law to be misunderstood, as it may have been in this case; we have no way of knowing for sure whether, at the time of the shooting, the Muhs really believed that they were legally defending their property, but that seems to be their defense.

Well, we need to change the laws in all the states where people think that if they shoot somebody outside the home that they need to drag them inside to make it legal, huh?

So protection of property should be out because it would simplify the law? Well, I guess if we get rid of a lot of laws, the law would be simplified.

Third, just as we have no way of knowing whether they believed at the time that their actions were legal under current law, we have no way of knowing whether they would in fact obey the law if it were changed. However, if the law restricted the use of deadly force to defending one's person (or someone else's), there would be no room for any confusion as to whether they could reasonably have thought they were justified in shooting at a fleeing vehicle.

Yet you claim...
No, I'm not arguing that the law should be changed based on this case.
and still your points 2 and 3 are based on this case in that you think if the law was changed that this incident likely would not have happened because the people would have better understood the law, but you still think they are idiots and it may not have made a difference. Nope, still doesn't hold water.

I see the crux of it being the fact that you expressed in 1 and 2 that you don't like the law yourself. You think the law is confusing people and that is the other half of your argument, only there isn't any indication in evidence that this is a problem. So we are left ONLY with the notion that you don't like the law, hence it should be changed.

If you want to argue that the current law is not legitimate, then stop using this case as part of your example. It doesn't give you any credibility in the matter, in huge part, for the very reason you noted including that the Muhs might have acted anyway, we don't know the Muhs' knowledge of the law in general, we don't know the Muhs' confusion of the specific law, etc.

And just for the record (as indicated by the news accounts), only the first shot was at a stationary vehicle. The second shot was at a fleeing vehicle.

JohnKSa
May 16, 2009, 11:08 PM
...we have no way of knowing for sure whether, at the time of the shooting, the Muhs really believed that they were legally defending their property, but that seems to be their defense.It doesn't matter what they thought. The law is clear and their actions are clearly outside of what it allows. Your continued attempt to argue your point of view based on the action of the Muhs makes it clear that you're not getting it.

The Muh's broke the law and murdered someone in the process. That is not evidence of a problem with TX law, it's evidence that the Muh's are ignorant of the law. You don't fix ignorance of the law by changing the law.However, if the law restricted the use of deadly force to defending one's person (or someone else's), there would be no room for any confusion as to whether they could reasonably have thought they were justified in shooting at a fleeing vehicle.The current law leaves no room for confusion. They were clearly in the wrong. The issue is not the law, it's their ignorance of it or their disregard for it.

I KNOW you've said that's not the problem (that you object primarily on the basis that you believe the law is unethical), but you keep bringing up the Muh's and their actions. You're either using them as a red herring or you were being disengenuous when you made your earlier statement that: "you know that's not my reasoning. What I am questioning is the ethical basis of the law itself:" Either this is about the Muhs or it's not. If it is, my earlier statement stands. You don't restrict the rights of 24 million people because there are ignorant idiots/criminals in the world. If it's not then you can't keep bringing up what they did as evidence for your arguments....I fail to see how that's an oversimplification.It's an oversimplification because the laws in question take up a page or more. Read in their entirety the laws are clearly not about "shooting people over minor property crimes" but rather have several common and common-sense themes that weave the laws together into a whole that actually is quite reasonable.

Trying to condense it into a single sentence is an obvious oversimplification and makes the laws appear to be much more simplistic than they really are.Oh yes, I know it's an uphill battle...Either you think that TX will be a better place when criminals can feel more secure about committing crimes in TX or you want TX to be a worse place than it is now.

I'm against both.

By the way, one of the main points of having individual states (instead of just one large country) is so that each individual state can enact it's own laws as its own citizens see fit. In other words, a person, who, like you, believes that the use of deadly force should be heavily restricted can happily find a home in a state like IL which has deadly force laws that match your ideals and leave others to enjoy life in states like TX which place a heavier emphasis on protecting the rights of the law-abiding than on protecting the rights of people caught in the act of committing crimes.

In other words, there is a place for people with views like yours. A place where you don't have to change any laws to be happy with what they say. TX is not that place. ;)

Vanya
May 18, 2009, 05:17 PM
My argument boils down to this. I happen to think that taking someone's life over a property crime, especially a misdemeanor, is unethical, and ought not to be legal, no matter whether it's at night, no matter whether the crime couldn't be prevented in any other way, etc., etc. But that's, as I've said, just the first point. My other concern has to do with the likelihood of killing innocents, not with protecting criminals.

Whether we are talking about defense of life OR defense of property, there will always be people who push the boundaries of what's legal, either because they genuinely don't understand the law, because they willfully misinterpret it, or because they don't give a ****. Nothing to be done about the last kind except throw the book at them. But in the case of the first two, I think it makes a difference where the boundaries are set in the first place: given the consequences of a mistake about where they are, I'd rather set them conservatively -- in the sense of erring on the side of protecting lives at the expense of some property, rather than on the side of preventing relatively minor criminal conduct at the cost of an increased risk of taking innocent lives.

I think -- along with pretty much everyone else who's posted on this -- that the Muhses were clearly violating the law as it's written, and ought to be tried for murder; stupidity and ignorance are no excuse. But assuming, purely for the sake of argument, that they were acting in good faith when they shot at that car, that they genuinely believed that it was legal to shoot, that the victims were damaging their property and that they had no other recourse, they were wrong. They made a mistake, albeit an incredibly stupid and criminal one. People can and do make mistakes in evaluating a situation, even when they're well-informed about the law. This comes up time and time again in discussions on this board, about when to use force in the case of an intruder in one's home, for example, or how best to intervene if one witnesses a violent crime. As is often stated in those discussions, it's not always easy to determine quickly just what is happening, so that the possibility of making a lethal error is very real.

So, John, your comment about placing "a heavier emphasis on protecting the rights of the law-abiding than on protecting the rights of people caught in the act of committing crimes" misses the point. The more generously you set the threshold of when lethal force is permissible, the greater the likelihood that law-abiding citizens will mistakenly be killed, as happened in the case being discussed in this thread. This is why I've used as it as an example, not as "the basis" of my argument, as both you, John, and Double Naught, keep insisting I'm doing. The basis of that part of my argument is this: the negative consequences of the mistaken use of lethal force in an apparent property crime outweigh any possible benefit, in terms of protecting property, in an actual one.

If either of you wants to take up the arguments I'm actually making, fine... but if the best you can do is to continue to misstate them, I'm done, I think...

JohnKSa
May 18, 2009, 10:44 PM
The more generously you set the threshold of when lethal force is permissible, the greater the likelihood that law-abiding citizens will mistakenly be killed, as happened in the case being discussed in this thread.That's a rather creative premise. I've not found that people who make the assessment that you can shoot people for trespassing (and I've heard it from more than one person) base their belief on an analysis of the law. Instead they base it exclusively on what they heard from some other person (or persons) who are also totally ignorant of the law and who heard it from others who were also totally ignorant of the law... (you get the point.)

The point is, and remains, that you can't fix ignorance by changing something that ignorant people are ignorant of. If they knew the law and kept up with the changes to the law then there would be no problem. The problem is that they do NOT know the law and do NOT keep up with the changes to it. Therefore changing the law can not have any effect on what they do.This is why I've used as it as an example,...It's not a valid example because what you're proposing as a solution will clearly have no effect on them or people like them. In fact, your argument is contradictory if you claim they are an example for the reasons I listed above....that they were acting in good faith when they shot at that car, that they genuinely believed that it was legal to shoot...If this is true then they clearly didn't know the law. If they knew the law they would not have fired on the trespassers unless they wished to commit murder. If they wanted to commit murder in violation of the law then changing the law can have no effect. If they were ignorant of the law then changing the law can have no effect because their ignorance (and the similar ignorance of others) can't be fixed by changing that which they are ignorant of.

In other words, you're attempting to use an emotionally charged incident to support your view (deadly force laws in TX need to be changed) but even your own arguments demonstrate that the incident is not applicable to the view you're airing. That glaring lack of applicability is what has driven you to repeatedly make statements like:

"I'm not arguing that the law should be changed based on this case."
"...my point isn't about "educating ignorant idiots."

OldMarksman
May 19, 2009, 07:18 AM
I happen to think that taking someone's life over a property crime, especially a misdemeanor, is unethical, and ought not to be legal, no matter whether it's at night, no matter whether the crime couldn't be prevented in any other way, etc., etc.

I happen to agree.

....assuming, purely for the sake of argument, that they were acting in good faith when they shot at that car, that they genuinely believed that it was legal to shoot, that the victims were damaging their property and that they had no other recourse, they were wrong. .... People can and do make mistakes in evaluating a situation, even when they're well-informed about the law.

If the shooting had taken place on their property and the Muhs had shot to protect low value property from being defaced, and if that provision of the code made their act lawful, that might be relevant, and regardless of whether the Texas legislators who enacted Section 9.42 understood that that might happen, it would now be the subject of very legitimate debate. However, it is not relevant.

I think it makes a difference where the boundaries are set in the first place:

OK, just where would you draw them? Would you make the use of deadly force unlawful in all circumstances, reversing a millenium of established law?

Forget Texas for a moment. We've had a homeowner shoot a sleeping drunk in his house Washington, a man try to strike a trespasser in Tennessee with a hammer, and someone kill someone at night with a "warning shot" in Colorado in recent months--all criminal acts. We've had people opine that it's OK to shoot a fleeing felon in Illinois, to point guns at trespassers and tell them to get on the ground in the Southeast, and draw and shoot people "making threatening gestures" somewhere far to the northeast of Texas, all very ignorant of the law, but what "boundaries" are set in such a manner that they made a difference in these misconceptions? None, I think.

I seriously doubt that the Muhs had any more knowledge of the content of Texas Code Section 9.42 than the night watchman in Colorado had about the lethal force laws there (deadly force to protect property is very clearly unlawful) or the Washington State homeowner knew about the appellate court rulings that establish a castle doctrine there . Both face murder charges, but it wasn't because of anything wrong with the way the law is framed.

No, I think the Texas Code contains a provision that is completely unethical and I expect that, should something really bad happen that turns out to be beyond the pale, the law will be amended, either by the legislature or by judicial interpretation. But I do not think that any part of the law as written and as understood by the Muhs contributed at all to the tragedy now at hand.

Actually, for the most part, I think the Texas code is very well written; there's enough specificity in it to minimize the likelihood of misinterpretation by persons not knowledgeable of the case law. I think there are real problems with Section 9.42, but if that section comes up in court in this case it won't be because the Muhs had ever read it.

Texan_Mama1985
December 27, 2010, 03:46 AM
Personally, they should stick them (alive and bloody), in a room filled with hungry hogs to be eaten alive. Then if there is anything left, grind it up and feed it to the gators in the Trinity.

Bernie Lomax
December 27, 2010, 04:36 AM
Does Texas still have the death penalty?

You're joking, right?


TX may lead the country in state executions.

Texas executes the most people in total, but Oklahoma executes the most per capita.

Al Norris
December 27, 2010, 09:02 AM
Bringing back a thread from a year and a half, just to vent.

Closed.