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Tx store owner charged w. murder after shooting thief

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
This thread could also go in the 2A/politics section, mods move if needed...

A Corpus Christie Texas convenience store owner has been arrested and charged with homicide after he shot and killed a man who was attempting to steal a 12-pack of beer from the store.

There's no indication of the level (degree) of homicide but I'd guess 2nd degree murder. There is also no mention of extenuating circumstances on either side of the issue, as this story is fairly new and no more details are available. Here's the link:

http://www.chron.com/news/texas/article/Texas-store-owner-arrested-after-killing-robber-4854325.php?cmpid=hpts

This is quite unusual for Texas. In Texas, it's "technically" justified defense for shooting or otherwise stopping a thief who's running away with your property "during the hours of darkness" (I don't know why the dark rule).

In other words, in Texas, you can actually use lethal force to prevent someone from stealing your stuff. It's literally in the legal code in "defense against prosecution" language. And normally, this has also applied to store owners who are preventing theft. So these murder charges are pretty uncommon here.

I say "technically justified" because it's not really self defense, as the person can actually be running away at the time.

I know that there are some people who would shoot to kill if someone were stealing a house plant or a matchstick from their property, because there have occasionally been pronouncements here along those lines, "My sacred property line, my stash, mine mine mine and you won't get any!" and so on.

I suppose I might shoot at someone who was stealing my car, but then again, I kind of doubt whether I would... for me, deadly force in self defense is just that, and if the thief had caused no harm to me or anyone else, and was just grabbing my TV set or something, I'm not sure whether that falls under the aspect of when I'd pull the trigger.

I honestly don't know.

Anyway, I occasionally read about a Texas store owner shooting a thief but this is the first time I can remember his being charged for the shoot. So I can only assume there were extenuating circumstances that led the cops to file charges.

What are your thoughts about using deadly force to prevent theft, assuming the perp is running away at the time and nobody was harmed?
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Replies

  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,122 Senior Member
    My understanding of TX law says that it is a LEGALLY justified shoot. Not just the 'Theft in the Nighttime" thing, but also in that it is legal to use deadly force in TX in defense of property if the shooter reasonably believes that there is no other way to protect or recover the property:
    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm
    Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. 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.

    Personally, I cannot imagine pulling the trigger to protect something that probably cost the store owner $6 wholesale cost. Would I use deadly force to protect property? Maybe. Depends on the circumstance. Would I do it for a 12 pack of Natty Light? NO.

    There is probably more to the story. Both on the sides of the store owner (why he shot), and on the sides of the police (why they arrested)

    (as a Texan, I find it funny that they had to include the pronunciation of Nueces)
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    If he's stealing a 6-pack, I doubt if it's worth the hassle of shooting, unless it's an everyday thing like one store owner I heard of had to deal with. The cops refused to act after repeated complaints about the same shoplifter stealing beer, so the store owner finally shot him. A good butt-whipping with a baseball bat might have been a better choice, though. If he's taking a diamond bracelet from a jewelry store after assaulting the clerk, drop him in his tracks!
    Jerry
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    Nueces County is known for crap like this. While I was overseas working they held my son in jail for 3 months with no formal charges. If I'd been stateside I would have gotten the lawyer myself, but I was in Malaysia and my ex wife got a cheap lawyer. I was told later that if we would have had a good lawyer we could have had him out in a week. It was over being caught with a girl in a life guard shack and she said he had given her drugs to make her have sex with him. At the time I don't doubt my son was not above this behavior, he was a wild one. But there were too many witnesses, reliable witnesses, that swore this wasn't the case and the girl was messed up before she left the bar with my son. Anyway, that and a few more incidents from Neuces county make me suspicious of this case.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    As far as shooting someone for taking my stuff.....depends on what the "stuff" is...Trying to steal my firearms is a shooting offense, stealing the beer out of the garage...not so much.

    HOWEVER...It's a little deeper than that....it's really not about stuff...If someone is in my house uninvited with larceny (or whatever) in mind, he was bought and paid for the minute he walked in the door...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    HOWEVER...It's a little deeper than that....it's really not about stuff...If someone is in my house uninvited with larceny (or whatever) in mind, he was bought and paid for the minute he walked in the door...

    Which is why I specified that the person would be fleeing the scene, not discovered in your home. Of course a store is different since people can enter normally.

    You say "bought and paid for" but I ask, what if you first saw him as he was running down the driveway with, say, your golf clubs or a belt sander?
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    bullsi1911 wrote: »
    (as a Texan, I find it funny that they had to include the pronunciation of Nueces)

    First, when you noted it, I realize that the "after dark" phrase has now been deleted from the law. Thanks for the correction.

    I also thought the Nueces explanation was funny. They never help us with "Bexar" (pronounced via Spanish as "bear") or more helpful would be "New York", pronounced "nuu yawk".
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,122 Senior Member
    It still says " theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime" (which, BTW, includes someone TPing your house... that is criminal mischief)
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • timctimc Senior Member Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    Like said above we all have to decide what out line of using deadly force is, for the store owner a few beers was his. I don't condem the man for that because IMHO you steal you deserve what ever you get! I say the store owner should get a pat on the back. If more thieves were worried about getting killed they would be less
    Likely to steal! I think he was justified period.
    timc - formerly known as timc on the last G&A forum and timc on the G&A forum before that and the G&A forum before that.....
    AKA: Former Founding Member
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    timc wrote: »
    Like said above we all have to decide what out line of using deadly force is, for the store owner a few beers was his. I don't condem the man for that because IMHO you steal you deserve what ever you get! I say the store owner should get a pat on the back. If more thieves were worried about getting killed they would be less
    Likely to steal! I think he was justified period.

    Amen, me too! When you steal or kill you should have given up all rights except to trial if you survive.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    Which is why I specified that the person would be fleeing the scene, not discovered in your home. Of course a store is different since people can enter normally.

    You say "bought and paid for" but I ask, what if you first saw him as he was running down the driveway with, say, your golf clubs or a belt sander?

    The short answer is...no. We would call the Sheriff (In spite of the fact that there is no hope of them getting here in time to do anything but take a report)....Petty thievery has a way of getting "worked out" around here. Everyone knows who the "problems" are and there aren't many of them.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    I guarauntee if I see somebody running down the street with some of MY possessions he better hope I'm not packing. I'm not going to just let him leave with it. I will at least brandish the gun in his face while instructing him to drop it.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    timc wrote: »
    Like said above we all have to decide what out line of using deadly force is, for the store owner a few beers was his. I don't condem the man for that because IMHO you steal you deserve what ever you get! I say the store owner should get a pat on the back. If more thieves were worried about getting killed they would be less
    Likely to steal! I think he was justified period.

    I am still unsure although I fully understand the need to make a stand and prevent theft. I'm just still a bit confused on why he was charged, despite snake's admonition of that county being goofy. I somehow think that there will be other circumstances that will come out. I dunno, really. Except that we did have a case, about 2 months ago here in Houston, where exactly the same thing happened, a thief grabbed a 12-pack and was shot by the clerk, didn't die but nevertheless the clerk was not charged and the police even said it was technically a legal shoot. And being a big city, Houston is a bit more liberal leaning than most more rural Tx counties.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    I guarauntee if I see somebody running down the street with some of MY possessions he better hope I'm not packing. I'm not going to just let him leave with it. I will at least brandish the gun in his face while instructing him to drop it.

    If you confront him, I agree. By "confronting" I suppose I mean face to face. But if he's running away, could you backshoot him, even knowing that he's stolen, say, your chainsaw or whatever (enough property to make it a felony theft)?

    I'd have to think long and hard about that one, and I kind of think that this falls, at least for me, on the "Yell and threaten but don't fire" side of the line. This is assuming that nobody was assaulted and that he poses no physical threat and that in fact he's running away at the time?

    I really don't think I could shoot. I'd WANT to, but probably would not.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    Amen, me too! When you steal or kill you should have given up all rights except to trial if you survive.

    I can't however be the jury if there's no assault or physical harm, only theft.

    About 3 years ago, we had an incident right in front of my apartment (as you all know, I'm a lowly apartment dweller)... Late night, 3am and I'm watching a DVD movie, and a huge crash out in front!

    I grabbed my XD (.45) and went to the door. The upstairs neighbor gal's brand new car, parked properly along the curb, had been rear ended by a junky pickup, both vehicles of course smashed up. Everyone came out to see, and my neighbor gal shrieked when she saw her car totaled. Staggering around near the pickup was this thin young Hispanic guy, head all bloody.

    He'd been driving and he got back into his truck, and amazingly it started, and he reversed and pulled free from the wreckage. Then he started to drive away.

    "Stop him!" the gal yelled, "Somebody stop him!" And I stood there, loaded .45 in hand, perfectly equipped to do so. It would have been a clear easy shot, too.

    But I did not. I laid my pistol inside and then waited. Cops arrived in 3-4 minutes (we've got excellent 911 response in our neighborhood) and one car took off for the guy, who was headed slowly down the street. They got him stopped about 2 blocks further, naturally the guy was falling down drunk, an illegal, no license or insurance or anything legal at all.

    But here was a case where I could have prevented a felon from fleeing and did not. Because the only way to prevent his leaving would be to shoot.

    And that I simply could not do. No, it wasn't my property but the idea's the same -- would you shoot someone, most likely in the back, who's fleeing from a burglary assuming that the guy had not harmed anyone and is in no way presenting a physical threat to you or yours?
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,591 Senior Member
    Easy to say because I wasn't there, but I won't shoot someone over a 6-pack.
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • orchidmanorchidman Senior Member Posts: 8,367 Senior Member
    Hmmmmmmmmmmm..........to shoot or not shoot under those circumstances??????......

    I guess it depends on the brand of beer stolen.

    If it was one of them 'Namby Pamby Low alcohol beers' that a 'Cheeto munchin Nancy boy' would drink...... I guess you couldn't be faulted for emptying a whole mag, reloading and doing it again.........on the basis that such an idiot needs cleaning out of the gene pool.

    If however, it was a premium beer, I guess the circumstances might change......
    Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,484 Senior Member
    So in Tx, what if you shoot a minor for stealing your stuff? Not one that can pass as an adult (Trevon Martin) but a 13 yr old who looks 13? Can a storeowner shoot a kid for stealing a snickers?
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • timctimc Senior Member Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    BAMAAK wrote: »
    So in Tx, what if you shoot a minor for stealing your stuff? Not one that can pass as an adult (Trevon Martin) but a 13 yr old who looks 13? Can a storeowner shoot a kid for stealing a snickers?

    at night most definitely! Thou shalt not steal, now you can go to God and talk about it.

    Would I feel bad for the stupid kid, yes. Would I feel the store owner was wrong, no! I don't lie, cheat, or steal. I hold myself to those standards and think everyone else should be too. If I steal a snickers from you then you are welcome to shoot me!
    timc - formerly known as timc on the last G&A forum and timc on the G&A forum before that and the G&A forum before that.....
    AKA: Former Founding Member
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    BAMAAK wrote: »
    So in Tx, what if you shoot a minor for stealing your stuff? Not one that can pass as an adult (Trevon Martin) but a 13 yr old who looks 13? Can a storeowner shoot a kid for stealing a snickers?

    Shooting someone under those circumstances can easily get you in serious trouble. The law only allows you a defense against prosecution, not carte blanche. Trevon Martin has nothing to do with it. And he was legally an adult.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,465 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    What are your thoughts about using deadly force to prevent theft, assuming the perp is running away at the time and nobody was harmed?

    I think the undertaker is going to have a harder job gearing up for an open-casket funeral if the exit wounds are on the front of the body. Oh well, he can pass the charges along to the dirt bag's family.

    The long and short of it is that many places in this country have a revolving door judiciary penalty system - sell a bunch of meth, steal cars, burglarize homes, etc. . . do three weeks or so in jail. The legal system has no fangs, so if you are lucky enough to live in a place that protects THE VICTIMS of such crimes against prosecution for cleansing the gene pool, rejoice! Somebody mentioned one or another book to me at some point that contained the passage "Thou shalt not steal" - written by a bunch of goatherds, I understand. The simplicity of pastoral wisdom is not without its benefits.

    I dunno. . .it seems to me that many of us have artificially inflated the value of human life in our minds to the point where we delude ourselves into seeing a huge gold bar where in fact there is nothing but a puddle of pig manure (much like many a Gunbroker auction). I find the "You can drop the hammer, but only in the absolutely, positively last extremity" mantra, and the mindset that is ingrained with it to be a bit travel-worn.

    A case of beer, a Snickers, or a ten carat diamond. . . doesn't matter; if everyone enters every store with the clear understanding that you will leave with these goods only after paying in cash, credit, or blood, the world would be a far more civil place.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • timctimc Senior Member Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    I think the undertaker is going to have a harder job gearing up for an open-casket funeral if the exit wounds are on the front of the body. Oh well, he can pass the charges along to the dirt bag's family.

    The long and short of it is that many places in this country have a revolving door judiciary penalty system - sell a bunch of meth, steal cars, burglarize homes, etc. . . do three weeks or so in jail. The legal system has no fangs, so if you are lucky enough to live in a place that protects THE VICTIMS of such crimes against prosecution for cleansing the gene pool, rejoice! Somebody mentioned one or another book to me at some point that contained the passage "Thou shalt not steal" - written by a bunch of goatherds, I understand. The simplicity of pastoral wisdom is not without its benefits.

    I dunno. . .it seems to me that many of us have artificially inflated the value of human life in our minds to the point where we delude ourselves into seeing a huge gold bar where in fact there is nothing but a puddle of pig manure (much like many a Gunbroker auction). I find the "You can drop the hammer, but only in the absolutely, positively last extremity" mantra, and the mindset that is ingrained with it to be a bit travel-worn.

    A case of beer, a Snickers, or a ten carat diamond. . . doesn't matter; if everyone enters every store with the clear understanding that you will leave with these goods only after paying in cash, credit, or blood, the world would be a far more civil place.

    Ahhh someone who gets it! I love you man.
    timc - formerly known as timc on the last G&A forum and timc on the G&A forum before that and the G&A forum before that.....
    AKA: Former Founding Member
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,484 Senior Member
    Would you feel that way if someone killed your kid over a snickers bar? Were you always so morally correct even as a teen? I did some pretty dumb stuff as a kid, most kids do. Not stealing mind you but I'm sure there are a few fathers who would have shot me for what I did to their daughters. As a father of 3 girls, a much worse offense then minor theft IMO. An eye for an eye maybe, a life for a six pack, I dunno.

    Edited to add, I think there should be a difference in this law for home vs a business.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,484 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    I think the undertaker is going to have a harder job gearing up for an open-casket funeral if the exit wounds are on the front of the body. Oh well, he can pass the charges along to the dirt bag's family.

    The long and short of it is that many places in this country have a revolving door judiciary penalty system - sell a bunch of meth, steal cars, burglarize homes, etc. . . do three weeks or so in jail. The legal system has no fangs, so if you are lucky enough to live in a place that protects THE VICTIMS of such crimes against prosecution for cleansing the gene pool, rejoice! Somebody mentioned one or another book to me at some point that contained the passage "Thou shalt not steal" - written by a bunch of goatherds, I understand. The simplicity of pastoral wisdom is not without its benefits.

    I dunno. . .it seems to me that many of us have artificially inflated the value of human life in our minds to the point where we delude ourselves into seeing a huge gold bar where in fact there is nothing but a puddle of pig manure (much like many a Gunbroker auction). I find the "You can drop the hammer, but only in the absolutely, positively last extremity" mantra, and the mindset that is ingrained with it to be a bit travel-worn.

    A case of beer, a Snickers, or a ten carat diamond. . . doesn't matter; if everyone enters every store with the clear understanding that you will leave with these goods only after paying in cash, credit, or blood, the world would be a far more civil place.

    Pretty sure thou shall not kill is in that same book as well a vengeance is mine. Can't pick and choose the parts you like and ignore the rest.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,465 Senior Member
    BAMAAK wrote: »
    Would you feel that way if someone killed your kid over a snickers bar?

    See my earlier comments on pig poo. Now ponder my utter indifference to the feelings of those who raised pig poo.

    See also my earlier comments about motivating the criminal element - blasting the odd miscreant into giblets periodically occasionally kick-starts the brain cells of others, hopefully moving them to a state where they don't have to be blasted into giblets.

    Seven BILLION of us dude. . .they're not all astronauts and curers of cancer. . .or even effective ditch-diggers.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,465 Senior Member
    BAMAAK wrote: »
    Pretty sure thou shall not kill is in that same book as well a vengeance is mine. Can't pick and choose the parts you like and ignore the rest.

    Sure I can.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 8,049 Senior Member
    FYI, its "Thou shalt not do murder" Justifiable homicide is OK
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,918 Senior Member
    FYI, its "Thou shalt not do murder" Justifiable homicide is OK
    Circumstances are even laid out...
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,161 Senior Member
    BAMAAK wrote: »
    Pretty sure thou shall not kill is in that same book as well a vengeance is mine. Can't pick and choose the parts you like and ignore the rest.

    It also says, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"...does this mean it's open season on Wiccans?
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Don't think I'd have shot the guy for stealing beer, but if I was working a stop 'n' rob I'd have both firearm and an aluminum ball bat close to hand. Unarmed robbery like that, run him down and make the ball bat make nice pinging sounds on him until the police arrive. That's called 'aversion therapy'; makes the person not want to do that activity at that location any more.

    Kind of on the old way of dealing with a chicken killing dog. Kill a chicken and tie it tight around the offending dog's neck. By the time the chicken has rotted off, the dog has no further love of chickens.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    I understand your comments, Big, but I still have concerns. I appreciate the somewhat flowery rhetoric about the undertaker but the bottom line is whether we might willingly shoot someone in the back, someone who was clearly fleeing, clearly not a physical threat, after stealing a candy bar?

    I could not do that, shoot someone in the back for theft of 15cents' worth of goods. Maybe others here could do that with impunity. Not I.

    And I might also end up in serious legal problems too.

    Not my cuppa tea. I have assumed a pretty considerable responsibility in having a lethal weapon and I think that it's my responsibility to use or not use that weapon responsibly, and that doesn't include a "zero tolerance" attitude toward theft. We, as a society, used to cut off someone's hand for stealing a loaf of bread. Islamic extremists would still enjoy that. Again, not my cuppa tea.

    Your, um, "essay" on lethal force is pretty rigid and a far too draconian for my own standards of what I think constitutes self defense. And shooting someone in the back while fleeing a petty theft doesn't rise to the occasion.

    I'm not too big on burning at the stake for blasphemy, either.
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