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Old July 17, 2011, 08:48 AM   #251
thallub
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I just spent quite a bit of time going over video taped statements by Ersland and if nothing else, he is guilty of being stupid giving interviews to police and local media without an attorney present. Unfortunately, he changes his statements which is not good. He was on Fox news on the factor and told a different story again.

I believe his own statements did him in. If he had kept his mouth shut, he might have worked out a manslaughter deal. Oh well, dumb is dumb I guess.

The lying by Ersland is the point that lots of folks are missing. Folks are also missing the fact that Ersland went on TV, with and without his sorry lawyer. Ersland injured his arm and claimed that two pieces of a .22 bullet hit him in the arm: Fired by a gun in the hands of the late perp. Ersland claimed to find .22 casing/s near where the body of the late perp lay. Ersland even lied about his military record.

The Ersland and his lawyer got the first judge relieved from the case. Then Ersland and his lawyer claimed that the second judge assigned to the case made a racist comment in court. This second judge is the one who tried Ersland.

Let's see what we have here:

1. Ersland initially had the police on his side until he told a plethora of lies.
2. Then Ersland went on TV and told more lies.
3. Ersland and his sorry lawyer badmouthed the judge assigned to hear his case.
4. Finally the DA had seen enough and charged Ersland with murder.

i don't know how this kind of stuff plays out in other states, but:

1. Here in OK if you lie to the cops they get p'od. There is a good chance they will give the prosecutor a bad report.
2. If the prosecutor gets a bad report from the cops and then sees you on TV telling lies about a shooting you committed he gets p'od fast.
3. If you try to get the judge off your shooting case based on trumped up trash he may get p'od. P'od judges can do subtle little things that can have a grave impact on the defendant in a murder trial. i'm not saying this judge did that....just saying.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:29 AM   #252
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Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in! Even if he didn't say anything, I'm pretty sure the forensic evidence spoke for itself.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:31 AM   #253
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And the jury convicted on the evidence, not the judge.
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:03 AM   #254
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Looking at that perspective, are you so cool headed that you would not "lose control" with a gun pointed at your head and that you could stop the hormonal fight or flight response and be a cool hand Luke in that situation.

In a word...Yes.
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:08 AM   #255
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I think Ersland did commit Murder 1, and got what he deserved.
I Agree.
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:15 AM   #256
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It's a shame no one gets in schoolyard fights anymore. Back in the day, every young man was expected to develop enough self control to NOT kick the other guy when he was down. You might be mad enough to beat him to a bloody pulp, but no matter how mad you were or how badly you wanted to mash his nose into jelly, you wouldn't kick him in the head when he was on the ground and couldn't fight back.

Darn this modern life that's allowed so many men to reach adulthood without knowing they could control their murderous impulses like that.

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Old July 17, 2011, 11:37 AM   #257
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Darn this modern life that's allowed so many men to reach adulthood without knowing they could control their murderous impulses like that.
I never once thought of that aspect!!!

Having been the "butt kicker" and "butt kickee" plenty and I can say I have a respect for those that beat me fair and square!

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Old July 17, 2011, 11:52 AM   #258
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+1 Pax!
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:59 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by Nnobby45
You may think one act driven by fear and anger, in what was originally a survival situation, makes a person a scumbag.

But when you do, you lose sight of the fact that violent repeat criminal defenders don't make bad decisions. They make choices when they're as rational as they'll ever be.
Nnobby, that brings us back to something JohnKSa wrote earlier in this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
I think a lot of people... are completely missing the point of this thread.

NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO THINK CLEARLY.


NOW is the time for you to make decisions about what you will and won't do in a deadly force encounter. You can choose NOW to do the right thing or you can persist in the idea that it's simply out of your hands once the adrenaline starts coursing through your system. Or worse you can decide right now that you're going to kill your attacker whether you have to break the law to do it or not.
Right now, everyone participating in this thread is as rational as we will ever be. So right now is the time we need to decide that, if we are ever in a similar situation, we will NOT keep going after the threat is down... that we will STOP when the threat stops and that we will shoot only to protect and defend innocent life.

Creating a criminal mindset in advance leads to criminal choices under stress. Creating a good mindset in advance leads to good choices under stress.

Thanks for bringing that up. It was a good point even though I took it in a direction you almost certainly didn't intend.

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Old July 17, 2011, 12:15 PM   #260
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Excellent post Pax!

Gives me a moment's pause to think a few things over. I'm sure your words had the same effect on others as well. Thank you.
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Old July 17, 2011, 12:18 PM   #261
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pax

Right now, everyone participating in this thread is as rational as we will ever be. So right now is the time we need to decide that, if we are ever in a similar situation, we will NOT keep going after the threat is down... that we will STOP when the threat stops and that we will shoot only to protect and defend innocent life.

Creating a criminal mindset in advance leads to criminal choices under stress. Creating a good mindset in advance leads to good choices under stress.

Thanks for bringing that up. It was a good point even though I took it in a direction you almost certainly didn't intend.
This sort of post is one of the pearls that I appreciate when reading this forum. This could be a life lesson for readers here.

Thank you Pax.
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Old July 17, 2011, 01:39 PM   #262
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Ersland was born back in the day, however. However, back in the day, the same thing likely would have happened in such a robbery.
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Old July 17, 2011, 02:48 PM   #263
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I feel that the first 30 expain the killing. They don't excuse it but to ignore the fact that the pharmacist was the victim moments before the killing is just plain silly.
Being a victim moments earlier doesn't give a person a free pass to commit murder.

The justification for deadly force VANISHES once the threat is over. If you kill someone when there is no justification for the use of deadly force you're committing murder. If your actions make it plain that you killed them deliberately and with intent then you're committing murder 1.
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Why is the heat of passion manslaughter not a viable option?
If you want my opinion then here it is.

1. Ersland doesn't give any evidence of being a man "in the heat of passion". He goes about his task methodically.

2. Too much time elapsed between the initial incident and the murder.

But here's an even better answer:

The jury examined all the evidence and felt that it didn't apply because his actions and the evidence warranted a conviction for murder 1 rather than a lesser charge.
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I still have difficulty declaring premeditation in this circumstance.
I can see that, but your difficulty arises from something other than the clear evidence in the video. Ersland walks over to retrieve his gun and then walks back across the room to the robber, walking both directions without giving the slightest evidence that he is concerned about any threat from the robber. A person doesn't have to plan a murder for days to make it premeditated. The law just says they have to kill someone deliberately and with intent. Ersland clearly did that.
Quote:
In his interview, Reston mentions grappling with the suspect prior to being shot, not after.
In the link I gave provided it clearly states that the attacker was on top of Reston and that Reston had to flip them both over to free his gun arm so he could make the final shots.
Quote:
My point only being that sometimes the only way immediately stop a threat, is to, like you said, take out the CNS. Which equals killing someone.
It does not equal killing someone and we just had a very high profile case that proves it. The Gabby Giffords shooting.

Besides, it doesn't matter. It is legally acceptable to kill someone in self-defense. The key is the phrase "in self-defense". That means that the killing takes place during the course of self-defense. It means that the goal is self-defense, NOT killing.

As I said earlier, what's the point of killing the attacker if you or your loved ones die soon after? What does it matter if you and your loved ones are kept safe but the attacker survives? Neither one matters if the goal is self-defense and that's the way it should be.

If you train yourself either intentionally or unintentionally to seek the death of your attacker you've done yourself a disservice.

1. You may let your true goal slip at an inopportune moment and severely complicate what might otherwise be a very simple case of self-defense.

2. Your mindset may drive you to make unwise decisions or take unwise actions during a self-defense encounter which could put you in the same jam Ersland is in.

3. Your mindset may cause your tactics to suffer. While in some ways using deadly force to kill is very similar to using deadly force in self-defense, it is different in other ways. Losing track of what your true goal is may expose you, your loved ones, or innocent bystanders to unnecessary danger. You don't want to take an ill-advised shot in an effort to kill when it really isn't necessary to stop the encounter. That shot is one more shot that requires you to expose yourself to return fire. It's one more shot that could miss or pass through or ricochet and hit an innocent bystander. It's one less shot that you will have available if a threat that you haven't identified yet presents itself. It's a shot that you may not be able to explain when questioned later. And so on...

In Ersland's case he clearly went to an extreme to try to kill one robber by chasing him down the street firing at him. That exposed him to needless danger of return fire, it exposed others to danger from his shots and possible return fire from the robber and it was almost certainly a contributing factor in helping the jury determine what his true goals were. And although he verbally expresses concern about his "people" in the 911 recording, if he were really concerned about them, his time would have been far better spent insuring they were safe or summoning help if necessary instead of running down the street firing at a fleeing robber.

(By the way, this is another piece of evidence that Ersland either didn't consider the robber on the floor to be a danger to anyone or didn't really care about his "people". If he really thought that the robber on the floor was a threat and cared about his employees he would have had no choice but to stay behind and insure that the robber didn't cause any injury to his employees.)

In Reston's case it made sense to go for a CNS shot because he was desperately trying to survive and realized that his time had run out. Had he simply decided to kill the guy, had he decided that he was going to die anyway so he might as well take his attacker with him, a higher percentage approach to that end would have been to riddle the attacker's chest with bullets. Hunters understand that shooting an animal through the chest offers the best chance for killing it even though it may not result in an instant kill. That's because bullets to the chest have a better chance of scoring a hit, a better chance of hitting something vital and a smaller chance of being deflected by protective structures. The lower power of a pistol round makes avoiding bullet deflection even more critical.
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Old July 17, 2011, 03:51 PM   #264
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Originally Posted by pax
Right now, everyone participating in this thread is as rational as we will ever be. So right now is the time we need to decide that, if we are ever in a similar situation, we will NOT keep going after the threat is down... that we will STOP when the threat stops and that we will shoot only to protect and defend innocent life.
This is why we have the T&T section of TFL and I think that this thread has helped me refocus on that fact.

This thread caused me a great deal of concern and I've spent a lot of time thinking about it and the implications of many of the responses on it. Last night I actually began to consider if perhaps I should re-evaluate my views on gun control. If there is really this much confusion in the gun community about what constitutes murder and how it differs from self-defense then maybe private gun ownership isn't really as good an idea as I've always thought. But today I realized that the problem with this thread is that the focus has been wrong.

Why should we debate whether Ersland was right or wrong or about how wrong or how right he was? Given that he's been convicted of murder 1 and is now serving life in prison, he clearly did something wrong--no matter how you break things down, ending up with a life sentence in OK for shooting an armed robber is a pretty good indication that the wheels definitely came off somewhere along the line. Therefore, our focus should be on how we can avoid similar mistakes.

So with that in mind...

How not to screw up like Ersland did.

Prepare Physically
  • Have a gun you can use and that fits your application.
  • Practice with it. Make sure you can make good hits rapidly with it. Make sure you can access it when you need it and operate all the controls even in the event that you suffer an injury during an encounter. Had Ersland rapidly scored multiple solid hits on BOTH attackers before the first robber ran, this scenario would have played out MUCH differently.**
  • Get training. Even if you are a great shot, odds are that there are some things you don't know or haven't thought of or practiced that may be of critical utility in an emergency. And if you are questioned about your actions later you can cite your training to explain your actions.
  • If you think you might need more shots than your carry gun holds then carry a reload or a second gun. First of all, you may not have time to go find a second gun or another magazine during a scenario and if you do, it may not reflect well on your defense to admit that in the middle of a fast-paced, life-threatening situation you had time to go over, open the cabinet and fish around for another gun and then come back to end the encounter. If Ersland had a reload or a second gun on him and had he shot the robber immediately upon returning to the store it would have been MUCH harder to prove murder 1.**
  • Compete. The stress of competition doesn't equal the stress of a life-or-death situation but even so it's a good place to start. This is especially important for those who feel like they may not handle stress well.

Prepare Mentally
  • Understand that self-defense is exclusively about DEFENSE.
  • Understand that your right to use deadly force is ONLY to prevent or stop certain very serious crimes that are either in progress or immediately about to start.
  • Understand that it's not your right nor responsibility to mete out punishment, to take revenge or enact retribution, nor to rid society of criminals. Your right to use deadly force ends when the threat ends. I firmly believe that if Ersland had understood this and had made a conscious decision to work within the framework this realization provides he would truly be the hero many initially thought he was. He certainly wouldn't be in jail today.
  • Make important decisions about what you will and won't do BEFORE you end up in a deadly force scenario.
  • Don't train yourself to think that you're "doing the world a favor" if you end a criminal's life and avoid making statements to that effect that in public. You don't want people to be able to use your own quotes to call your motives into question later.
  • Realize that you will probably be under more stress than you've ever been under before. Learn the symptoms of extreme stress and also how to deal with those symptoms as constructively as possible. Learn what things you probably shouldn't try to do or expect to do well while under extreme stress.

Do the right thing.
  • Do stop the threat as soon as is reasonably possible using whatever legal means you have at your disposal.
  • Do take cover if you can.
  • Do what you can to avoid shooting in ill-advised directions so you can feel good later about not hitting any innocents with your missed shots or pass-throughs.
  • Do take reasonable precautions after the attack is "over". Just because an attacker is down doesn't mean he's harmless. Even a head shot won't always stop and even a brain shot doesn't always kill. Besides being a smart idea in general, if you DO have to shoot a criminal who's already down, it will help a LOT if video evidence and/or witnesses clearly indicate that your actions demonstrated that you still believed a threat existed.**

Don't do the wrong thing.
  • Don't keep shooting after the threat is over.
  • Don't do things you will have a hard time explaining later.
  • Don't assume that no one's watching. Cameras are everywhere.
  • Don't assume you'll be hailed as a hero.
  • Don't shoot your mouth off. Saying stupid or ill-advised things can get you into serious trouble or can make an already difficult situation even worse. Ersland's willingness to talk a lot didn't help his case, especially since his stories didn't always agree with one another. **

** I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm not providing these comments as a primer on how to get away with the crime Ersland committed, I'm making these comments to point out things that Ersland did that we should avoid so that our actions won't falsely give the same appearance that his did.
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Old July 17, 2011, 04:05 PM   #265
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Great post, great discussion. I am still torn on the murder 1 vs manslaughter issue. What he did was wrong indeed. He is not a hero as some wrongly assert and he has done great disservice to CCW holders nationwide. If the definition of murder 1 is that he intended to kill and not just stop, then so be it, perhaps the jury got it right.

God bless,

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Old July 17, 2011, 04:56 PM   #266
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Originally Posted by JohnKSa

Your mindset may cause your tactics to suffer. While in some ways using deadly force to kill is very similar to using deadly force in self-defense, it is different in other ways. Losing track of what your true goal is may expose you, your loved ones, or innocent bystanders to unnecessary danger.
This.

We see the same mindset challenge on home defense threads all the time, too. A lot of us really want to defend our 'stuff' and punish the bad guy for coming into our homes in the first place. That's why we get so agitated when someone tells us the best tactics are to hide and call the cops. The safest thing to do -- the thing that gives you the best chance of surviving unscathed -- is to hole up behind a locked bedroom door, determined and prepared to fire if the intruder enters your safe haven, while you wait for the cops to arrive and deal with the situation. When our true goal is to stay safe, that advice isn't a problem for us. But if our goal is actually something other than staying safe (protecting our 'stuff,' punishing the criminal, deterring other would-be robbers, looking like a hero to the spouse and kids), then advice to stay in a safe room and avoid confronting the criminal is very hard to take.

The goal dictates the tactics.

If the goal really is self defense, the tactics you naturally use in support of that goal will keep you and your family much safer than tactics designed to reach any other goal.

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Old July 17, 2011, 09:38 PM   #267
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It's a shame no one gets in schoolyard fights anymore. Back in the day, every young man was expected to develop enough self control to NOT kick the other guy when he was down.
Very true. It is amazing to me how many guys my age have never been in a fight. Fights taught me a lot growing up. Mostly, avoid them if possible. But also, self control - controlling my actions and my mouth. Nowadays the idea of hurting someone is repulsive.


I agree that it is time to refocus on learning from the shooting. Nobody is going to change their minds anyway.

My first thought is: What kind of gun did the pharmacist have in the beginning?
IMO, anything other than a full sized, high capacity pistol unnecesarily handicaps a shooter. I see small .38 specials behind C-Store counters all the time. I would never limit myself unless I was CC the gun.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:21 PM   #268
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We see the same mindset challenge on home defense threads all the time, too. A lot of us really want to defend our 'stuff' and punish the bad guy for coming into our homes in the first place. That's why we get so agitated when someone tells us the best tactics are to hide and call the cops. The safest thing to do -- the thing that gives you the best chance of surviving unscathed -- is to hole up behind a locked bedroom door, determined and prepared to fire if the intruder enters your safe haven, while you wait for the cops to arrive and deal with the situation. When our true goal is to stay safe, that advice isn't a problem for us. But if our goal is actually something other than staying safe (protecting our 'stuff,' punishing the criminal, deterring other would-be robbers, looking like a hero to the spouse and kids), then advice to stay in a safe room and avoid confronting the criminal is very hard to take.
All very true. But, bad guys come back. My ideas of self defense vary greatly depending on where I am.

Basically, if I were away from home I'm working out the odds of what is the most like action, or lack there of, to get me back home safely.
If I'm at home I'm not going to hide in a room and call the cops every time I hear an unexplained "bump in the night". If there is a threat, I'm going after it.
Why? I will not live in fear and I'm not going to have something bad happen to my family that I might have prevented. I'm not macho, I'm not trying to punish anyone, I don't care about "stuff" and I'm not trying to impress anyone. I feel this is a very logical way of looking at things. This isn't saying that I'm going to kill any bad guy that enters my house. I'm just saying he had better shoot quickly, run quickly or surrender quickly.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:43 PM   #269
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I can understand the difference between a criminal and a habitual criminal, but in my opinion that's not nearly as important a distinction as the difference between law-abiding person and criminal.
I'm not trying to make it complicated. Just saying that one who is is a good person can, in the heat of anger and fear (the two are closely related) react in a way that violates the law.

Don't know how many times he'd been a crime victim. Don't know how many times he called the police in vain. Some citizens get damned well tired of low life punks.

The druggist crossed the line and didn't control himself in the heat of battle.

Personally, I'd rather have seen a manslaughter verdict. The other punks who victimized him will be out victimizing other good decent people while the pharmacist is incarcerated for life--if they even serve any time at all.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:47 PM   #270
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Posted by Catfishman: If there is a threat, I'm going after it.
Why? I will not live in fear and I'm not going to have something bad happen to my family that I might have prevented.
Even though pax said this?
Quote:
The safest thing to do -- the thing that gives you the best chance of surviving unscathed -- is to hole up behind a locked bedroom door, determined and prepared to fire if the intruder enters your safe haven, while you wait for the cops to arrive and deal with the situation.
Perhaps you have not considered just how unsafe "going after" a threat can be. Study these:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...11&postcount=8

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...13&postcount=9

If those do not convince you, then heed John's advice:
Quote:
Get training. Even if you are a great shot, odds are that there are some things you don't know or haven't thought of or practiced that may be of critical utility in an emergency. And if you are questioned about your actions later you can cite your training to explain your actions.
And if it is the right kind of training, you will understand fully that the best strategy is always to let the threat come to you, once you have gotten your family together..

Quote:
I'm not going to have something bad happen to my family that I might have prevented.
Good. So stay alive and unhurt. You will not be able to prevent any harm to your family if you are shot because you did not know what you were doing.
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Old July 17, 2011, 10:51 PM   #271
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I agree, I am torn over the 1st degree aspect of it. Technically, it does appear he meant not to stop but to kill. He must have had a terrible lawyer to not get a lesser charge out of the jury, but in reality, he has no one to blame but his own incoherent and contradictory statements over and over. He had no credibility whatsoever if you listen to his public comments available.

The first 36 seconds of his actions could have been interpreted as heroic, if not for the last 10 seconds of shooting a man down on the floor. What was going through his mind? Was this his Walter Mitty moment? It sounds like it, and in that sense, perhaps it was 1st degree. But in general, I am still conflicted over a manslaughter charge.

So be it, what he did was really dumb and his post shooting actions were even dumber in some ways. God have mercy on all their souls including the dead kid. I am glad I am not judged by my actions as a 16 yo punk kid.
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Old July 17, 2011, 11:13 PM   #272
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Don't know how many times he'd been a crime victim. Don't know how many times he called the police in vain.
The lesson here is that frustration is not considered a justification for murder. If anything, any hard evidence of frustration from previous incidents would most likely be used AGAINST the defendant as evidence of premeditation.
Quote:
Some citizens get damned well tired of low life punks.
That's certainly true, but as mentioned, the lesson here is that eliminating low life punks is not a legal justification for the use of deadly force.

The bigger lesson is that those who act on the mistaken assumption that it is will find themselves in the same boat as the low life punks they seek to eliminate. Just as Ersland has.
Quote:
Personally, I'd rather have seen a manslaughter verdict.
The lesson here is that what we want should not be confused with what the law says we deserve. Since the evidence clearly supported a charge of murder 1, it doesn't matter what he wanted. And the same general principle will apply to any of us in similar circumstances.
Quote:
The other punks who victimized him will be out victimizing other good decent people while the pharmacist is incarcerated for life--if they even serve any time at all.
In this case the other participants in the crime were convicted of exactly the same crime the pharmacist was (in addition to armed robbery, I assume) and will serve the same sentence or perhaps longer sentences due to additional charges. This was discussed earlier in the thread. The gist of it is that OK law says (more or less) that if you are involved in a felony crime that results in a death then you're guilty of murder 1.

The irony (and the lesson for us all) is that in the eyes of the law, the pharmacist is now more or less equivalent to the armed robbers who attacked him. It will be the same for us if we fall into the trap(s) he did.
Quote:
Technically, it does appear he meant not to stop but to kill.
An odd comment. He clearly didn't mean to "stop" because the robber was already stopped. So there's no "technically" or "appear" involved. He clearly meant to kill a person who posed no threat whatsoever to him. That kind of performance will earn anyone a life sentence and a murder 1 conviction if the system works the way it should assuming that the evidence exists to convict.

Speaking of evidence...
Quote:
He must have had a terrible lawyer to not get a lesser charge out of the jury...
If there's a lesson to be learned it's not that he needed a better lawyer. It's that those who commit murder on video are extremely like to get what they deserve regardless of how good a lawyer they can afford.
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Old July 18, 2011, 10:42 AM   #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catfishman

All very true. But, bad guys come back. My ideas of self defense vary greatly depending on where I am.

Basically, if I were away from home I'm working out the odds of what is the most like action, or lack there of, to get me back home safely.

If I'm at home I'm not going to hide in a room and call the cops every time I hear an unexplained "bump in the night". If there is a threat, I'm going after it.

Why? I will not live in fear ...

Catfishman, I added the bolding above so you could maybe see exactly what I'm talking about. From where I sit, your post adds up to, "Yes, but I have a different goal than protecting myself and my family during the event. My true goal is to deter a second invasion."

That's fine. But it's not the same thing as having the true goal of keeping yourself and your family safe during the encounter. And that is the sort of mindset challenge that could easily add up to trouble during an actual encounter, if not ruthlessly dealt with ahead of time.

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Old July 18, 2011, 11:23 AM   #274
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Interesting thread. I'm still not conviced of 1st degree murder though. He overreacted in the heat of passion, adreneline, etc. 2nd degree murder is probably what he is actually guilty of (murder in the heat of passion). Not that I'm defending his actions after the robbery was over, of course. I'd never shoot someone who's already wounded and on the ground unless he was still armed and conscious and won't disarm himself on command.
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Old July 18, 2011, 11:34 AM   #275
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Quote:
I'm still not conviced of 1st degree murder though. He overreacted in the heat of passion, adreneline, etc. 2nd degree murder is probably what he is actually guilty of. Not that I'm defending his actions after the robbery was over.
You are doing exactly "defending his actions after the robbery was over."

He returned from a foot chase, retrieved a second gun, and then proceeded to shoot a person who was no longer a threat.

He came back, thought about it, then executed someone.

The law provides limits about the use of lethal force, and he blew right past them.

He did not appear to be "heat of passion" or anything but calm and in control.
He then went on to lie repeatedly about the sequence of events.
NOT minor errors, huge differences from the recovered video.
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