Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stand Your Ground

Michigan shooting: Reasonable self-defense or second-degree murder?

By Staff writer / November 15, 2013 

In a case that is drawing comparisons to George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in a gated Florida community, a white homeowner in suburban Detroit was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed young black woman who came to his front door in the middle of the night two weeks ago.

The homeowner, Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was also charged with manslaughter and the possession of a firearm in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Wayne County prosecutors allege Mr. Wafer shot Ms. McBride through the locked screen door of his home after 4 a.m. on Nov. 2.
If convicted Wafer, who was released on bond after his arraignment Friday afternoon, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Key to the case will be assessing how threatened Wafer felt when he came to his door, and whether those feelings were reasonable. Police say Wafer told them he thought someone was breaking into his house and that he accidentally fired his 12-gauge shotgun.

It is uncertain why McBride ended up on Wafer’s front porch; three hours earlier, she crashed her car into a parked vehicle about a mile from the house and walked off in a bloodied condition, according to police.
Prosecutors say Wafer violated Michigan law on self-defense that says the shooter “must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm,” says Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

Racial bias

By Staff writer / August 6, 2013

During the closing arguments of the George Zimmerman trial, defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked the courtroom to be quiet for four long minutes. When he at last broke the silence, he said those four minutes were the amount of time that Trayvon Martin had had to go home.

Mr. O'Mara left no doubts: It was Trayvon's decision not to go home, but instead to "plan" an attack on Mr. Zimmerman, punching and beating him, that caused Zimmerman to fatally shoot him. Because he did not go home, O'Mara said, "Trayvon Martin caused his own death."

The implication in O'Mara's argument was that Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, who was armed, and who ignored a 911 dispatcher's instructions not to follow Trayvon, had more of a right to stand his ground than did 17-year-old Trayvon, who was black. And the verdict suggests the jurors agreed.
Data from other states with stand-your-ground laws indicate that the Zimmerman jury was not alone in being sympathetic to such a claim. Whites are significantly more successful claiming self-defense when their attacker is black than blacks are when fighting back against an attacker who is white, according to one study.

Stand-your-ground laws have begun to change the calculus of self-defense in the United States. The idea behind them is to "expand the legal justification for the use of lethal force in self-defense, thereby lowering the expected cost of using lethal force and increasing the expected cost of committing violent crime," say researchers Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra in a Texas A&M study.
Statistics included in the study bore that out, showing that justifiable homicides rose by 8 percent in stand-your-ground states, amounting to some 600 additional killings.

The laws have spread quickly. Since Florida passed the first stand-your-ground law in 2005, at least 30 other states have followed suit, either though legislative action or court decisions.

September 12, 2013

"Stand Your Ground" and other Shoot First laws lead to tragedy, as we witnessed in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Now Congress is investigating the devastating impact of these laws. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will be holding a hearing to consider how these laws have spread and what effect they've had on civil rights and public safety.1
Senator Dick Durbin, the chair of the committee, is seeking testimony about these laws for committee members to consider. This is an important opportunity to show support for repeal of these deadly laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click here for sample text.
The NRA, backed by gun manufacturers and politicians associated with the shadowy right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), helped shepherd Shoot First laws through dozens of states.2 These laws dangerously offer a legal stamp of approval to a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality.
Throw in the eye-popping number of concealed-carry permits (which now stands at 8 million nationally) and lax gun laws generally, and you have a dangerous recipe for unnecessarily violent, often fatal conflict.3
In Florida, for example, the rate of "justifiable" homicides has tripled since the state passed its Shoot First law, in 2005.4 Now it's time for the public to push back against these dangerous laws.
Submit your testimony telling the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stand up to the NRA and stop the spread of Stand Your Ground laws. Click the link below for sample text:
Thank you for standing up to the NRA.
Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Take action now ►
1. "'Stand Your Ground' Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force." Senate Judiciary Committee.
2. Adam Weinstein, "How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide." Mother Jones, June 7, 2012.
3. "Shoot First Laws Policy Summary." Law center to Prevent Gun violence, July 18, 2013.
4. Alex Seitz-Wald, "Stand Your Ground Laws Coincide With Jump In ‘Justifiable Homicides’." ThinkProgress, April 9, 2012.

Last year, our son Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased down and killed by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman received no punishment whatsoever. That's in large part because Florida is one of at least 21 states with some form of 'Stand Your Ground' law which enables people like George Zimmerman to claim self-defense.
'Stand Your Ground' was never meant to give aggressors the opportunity to get away with murder, but that is what happened when our son Trayvon was killed. After Trayvon's death, law enforcement used the law as an excuse to refuse to arrest George Zimmerman. Even worse, the jury in the case was instructed to think of what Zimmerman did as self-defense, even though Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police and instigated conflict with our son, who was just trying to get home to his father.
We are shocked and heartbroken by the jury’s decision to allow our son’s killer to go free. Despite our despair, we must honor Trayvon’s legacy by doing all that we can to protect other young people from being targeted, pursued, and senselessly murdered.
We started a petition on calling on 21 governors whose states have some form of 'Stand Your Ground' laws to review those laws and amend them so that people who instigate conflicts -- people like George Zimmerman -- won't be able to use these laws to get away with murder.
We are not the only ones calling for 'Stand Your Ground' laws to be reviewed. President Obama spoke out on the need for review, and prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain have joined him. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s not ‘black’ or ‘white’ issue, it’s a wrong and right issue.
This is a matter of making sure that no other family will ever have to go through what we have been through. No parents should ever have to know what it feels like to watch your child's killer walk free.
Our hearts broke on the night of February 26, 2012 when George Zimmerman killed our son -- and we were stunned and devastated when the police refused to arrest Zimmerman. We petitioned for Zimmerman's arrest on, and after more than 2 million people joined our call, Zimmerman was charged with our son's murder. We felt so much closer to justice for Trayvon, and so grateful for the support of those who signed our petition.
But on July 13, 2013, our hearts broke again when the jury set Zimmerman free. Our hearts broke because it is so hard to accept that we can't protect Trayvon anymore. But we can fight to make sure that this never happens again. 
Please sign our petition calling for a thorough review of all 'Stand Your Ground' laws to prevent killers like George Zimmerman from going free.
We want to say thank you to all of you who have stood up for our son. Because of all your efforts, Trayvon’s life is celebrated all over the world. Please continue to stand with us as we fight to ensure that his legacy is to leave behind a safer and more peaceful world for all our sons and daughters.
Thank you,
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton

The Joe Horn shooting controversy refers to the events of November 14, 2007, in Pasadena, Texas, United States, when local resident Joe Horn shot and killed two men burglarizing his neighbor's home. Publicized recordings of Horn's exchange with emergency dispatch indicate that he was asked repeatedly not to interfere with the burglary because the police would soon be on hand.[1] The shootings have resulted in debate regarding self-defense, Castle Doctrine laws, and Texas laws relating to use of deadly force to prevent or stop property crimes. The illegal alien status of the burglars has been highlighted because of the U.S. border controversy.[2] On June 30, 2008, Joe Horn was cleared by a grand jury in the Pasadena shootings.

Joe Horn, 61, spotted two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor's home in Pasadena, Texas. He called 9-1-1 to summon police to the scene. While on the phone with emergency dispatch, Horn stated that he had the right to use deadly force to defend property, referring to a law (Texas Penal Code §§ 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) which justified the use of deadly force to protect Horn's home. Horn exited his home with his shotgun, while the 9-1-1 operator tried to dissuade him from that action. On the 9-1-1 tape, he is heard confronting the suspects, saying, "Move, and you're dead",[3] immediately followed by the sound of a shotgun blast, followed by two more.[4] Following the shootings Mr. Horn told the 9-1-1 operator, "They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice!" [5]

Police initially identified the dead men in Horn's yard as 38-year-old Miguel Antonio DeJesus and Diego Ortiz, 30, both currently resident in Houston and of Afro Latino descent. However, DeJesus was actually an alias of an individual named Hernando Riascos Torres.[3] Torres and Ortiz were carrying a sack with cash and jewelry taken from the home next door to Joe Horn. Both were criminals from Colombia who had been convicted on drug trafficking charges.[1] Police found a Puerto Rican identification card on Ortiz. Torres had three identification cards from Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, and had been previously sent to prison for dealing cocaine. Torres had been deported in 1999.[6]

A plain clothes police detective responding to the 9-1-1 call arrived at the scene before the shooting, and witnessed the escalation and shootings while remaining in his car.[3] His report on the incident indicated that the men who were killed "received gunfire from the rear".[1] Police Capt. A.H. Corbett stated the two men ignored Mr. Horn's order to freeze and that one of the suspects ran towards Joe Horn before angling away from Horn toward the street when the suspect was shot in the back. The medical examiner's report could not specify whether they were shot in the back due to the ballistics of the shotgun wound.[7] Pasadena police confirmed that the two men were shot after they ventured into Horn's front yard. The detective did not arrest Horn.

The incident touched off protests, led by Quanell X, leader of the Houston chapter of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that were met by counter-protests from Horn's neighbors and other supporters, with the NBPP protesters rapidly leaving.

Former President Bill Clinton said the “tragedy” of the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“There are different stories being told,” the former president said, “so the first thing I have to say is that it’s important to find out the facts.”

Clinton continued “but to me, beyond the incredible personal tragedy- this young man was not armed, he clearly presented no threat to anybody’s life — is, the most important thing I’ve read was from the former police chief in Florida in the community, he was one of many law enforcement officers testifying against that Stand Your Ground law. And he said, you know this is going to create all kinds of problems. And it’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened.”

Clinton said “people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home- to protect their homes- then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90′s into this decade, far — if you will — to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

“And now the Stand Your Ground law,” he continued. “I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can — anyone who doesn’t have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks — can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

“So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws,” President Clinton said, “and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain- it’s just terrible. Whatever the facts were — all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life- that’s irrelevant because unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss.”

He said: “the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?”

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

See more from the interview here.
-Jake Tapper

Trayvon Martin's alleged attacker not covered under law I wrote

Published March 21, 2012

The tragic story of Trayvon Martin's death in Sanford, Florida has ignited a great deal of passion and concern regarding the circumstances of his death and the defense applied by the attacker, George Zimmerman. The fact that Trayvon Martin unnecessarily lost his life is troubling and an investigation into the surrounding circumstances is certainly warranted.
First of all I'd like to extend my condolences to the Martin family. 
I have been in the funeral services profession for over 40 years; I've walked with families through many tragic circumstances and I know how difficult it is.
I would like to emphasize that the approach that is currently developing in this situation, to convene a grand jury, is the proper one in which to discern the facts of this case. I certainly agree with everyone that justice must be served.
During the debate concerning this incident, some have brought into question the "Stand Your Ground" law, more commonly referred to as the "castle doctrine," which has been used by the attacker to pardon his actions. 
As the prime sponsor of this legislation in the Florida House, I'd like to clarify that this law does not seem to be applicable to the tragedy that happened in Sanford. There is nothing in the castle doctrine as found in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense.
When the "stand your ground" or "castle doctrine" legislation passed in 2005, the catalytic event that brought the issue to the attention of the Florida Legislature was the looting of property in the aftermath of hurricanes. 
Specifically, there was a situation in the panhandle of Florida where a citizen moved an RV onto his property, to protect the remains of his home from being looted. One evening, a perpetrator broke into the RV and attacked the property owner. The property owner, acting in self-defense in his home, shot and killed the perpetrator. 
It was months before the property owner knew if he would be charged with a crime because of the lack of concrete definition in the statutes regarding self-defense and a perceived duty to retreat by the potential victim.
Until 2005, the castle doctrine had never been canonized into Florida law, but had been used with differing definition and application to the concept of self-defense. The focus of the law was to provide clear definition to acts of self-defense. 
The facets of the castle doctrine deal with using force to meet force as an act of self-defense when in your home, in your car, on your property, or anywhere you are legally able to be. The law also protects property owners and their homeowner's insurance from being wrongfully sued by perpetrators who claim to be harmed while committing a crime.
The castle doctrine as passed, clarified that individuals are lawfully able to defend themselves when attacked and there is no duty to retreat when an individual is attacked on their property. Since the passage of this law in Florida, 26 other states have implemented similar statues. 
Additionally, the American Legislative Exchange Council used the Florida version of the castle doctrine as model legislation for other states. 
Quite simply the castle doctrine is a good law which now protects individuals in a majority of states. However, the castle doctrine does not provide protection to individuals who seek to pursue and confront others, as is allegedly the case in the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford.
The information that has been publicly reported concerning Trayvon Martin's death indicates that the castle doctrine may not be applicable to justify the actions of the attacker, Mr. Zimmerman. 
Media stories sharing the transcripts of the 911 tapes from the evening of the incident clearly show that Mr. Zimmerman was instructed by authorities to remain in his vehicle and to cease pursuit of Mr. Martin. George Zimmerman seems to have ignored the direction of the authorities and continued his pursuit of Mr. Martin. 
Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the "Stand Your Ground" law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.
I have great sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin and am grateful that things are finally moving in the right direction to further explore what actually happened on that night in Sanford, Florida. Awaiting the convening of the grand jury, I trust that justice will be served and healing will begin for all of those affected.
Republican Dennis Baxley represents the 24th district in Florida's House of Representatives. He was the prime sponsor of the "Stand Your Ground" law in 2005. He is the principal owner and vice president of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services.

Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances attack an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution.[1] Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases "when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another".[1] The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states.

The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle". This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628.[2] This was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "Englishman" from the phrase, thereby becoming simply the Castle Doctrine.[2] The term has been used to imply a person's absolute right in England to exclude anyone from their home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.[3]

The term "Make My Day Law" arose at the time of the 1985 Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home.[4] The law's nickname is a reference to the line "Go ahead, make my day" uttered by actor Clint Eastwood's character Harry Callahan in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, inviting a suspect to make himself liable to deadly retaliation by attacking Eastwood's character.

Intruder stopped for snack before fatal shooting

Can you imagine that he was in the couple's place, making a meal in the kitchen, opening the fridge, and they only woke up when he came upstairs to wake up the couple? Someone needs a guard dog.

Good for the husband that he 86'd him with only 1 round to the chest.

The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.

Wow - what an arrogant burglar. Props to the homeowner. I can remember more than one 'drive me to an ATM' story where the perp later killed the abducted victim.

I agree with the may not be held liable for civil damages also. Some people don't understand that when you kill an intruder in your home you may not be criminally liable, but the person's family/heirs often sue you, and win.

Sounds like Darwin's natural selection was at work again. As for civil lawsuits, these are getting less common because juries aren't buying that b.s. anymore

Don't we criticize urban youth who shoot and kill each other over a pair of sneakers that cost a hundred bucks? But it's OK for adults to shoot and kill each other over what? A guy wanted a sandwich and was asking for a couple hundred bucks? A human life was worth less to this homeowner than a small amount of money. And now everyone is praising him over it. Jesus would have fed a hungry man.

I specifically created an account so I could respond to your RIDICULOUS comment. Did you not read the part where there were THREE children under the age of 5 in the house? Or that the intruder BROKE INTO THEIR HOME and said he had a gun? I would have pulled the trigger too. No one is welcome to threaten my family that way. There are other ways to get a couple hundred bucks - breaking into a home with small children and stating that you have a weapon is not one of them.

This is why I own a gun. And don't reply with all your statistics about how somebody is more likely to die in my family then an intruder.

SPRINGVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Police say a man who broke into a Springville home was killed after he was shot by a resident.

The Springville Police Department told ABC 4 News that officers responded to the area of 800 South 475 East at around 3:00 a.m. on reports of a home invasion robbery.

When police arrived, officers say they found the alleged robber deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

Police say the crime scene was being investigated but preliminary reports suggest that the home invasion victim reportedly shot the suspect who entered the residence through an unlocked back door.

The suspect's name was not immediately released, although investigators identified him and were trying to contact his next-of-kin.

Police say that it appears the suspect had rummaged throughout the neighborhood in an effort to find unlocked homes and vehicles.

Police say that tracks left in the snow around other homes an vehicles in the neighborhood matches those found at the home where the break-in happened.

Police say the suspect broke a latch and entered the home, where he changed out of his wet clothes and into some of the resident's clothing, and then made a ham sandwich tortilla wrap.

According to police, after the suspect helped himself to the food and clothes, he entered the master bedroom where a man and his wife were sleeping, woke them up, told the victims that he had a gun he'd recently stolen, and demanded that he be taken to an ATM.

Police say that's when the resident went to his closet to retrieve some clothes, but instead reached for a hand gun and shot the suspect in the chest, killing him.

Springville Police say that the home invasion victims were safe and uninjured, including three children who were also sleeping in the home at the time of the break in.

Springville police responded to a call of a home invasion robbery at 2:48 a.m. in the area of 800 South and 475 East. When officers arrived they found Martinez had been fatally shot in the bedroom.

Lt. Dave Caron with the Springville Police Department said Martinez entered the home through a back sliding glass door. The door was locked with a child lock, but Martinez apparently disabled it by pulling hard on the door.

Once inside, Martinez took off clothes that had become wet while traipsing through the snow and change into some of the resident's clothes, which were folded on the couch in the living room. Caron said Martinez then went to the kitchen, made a tortilla and ham wrap, ate some of it and returned the uneaten portion to the refrigerator before going upstairs.

Martinez then entered the master bedroom, told the homeowner and his wife that he had a gun, and ordered them to get keys to drive him to an ATM. Under the guise of getting ready to leave, the homeowner walked into a closet, got his .9-mm gun and shot Martinez , striking him once in the chest, Caron said.

Investigators say it appears that prior to entering this home, Martinez had walked through the neighborhood, checking at least 20 homes and several cars for unlocked doors. There are no reports of anything missing or any other homes or cars being broken into. Police are currently trying to document the route before the tracks melt.

Caron said Martinez matches the general description of a man wanted in connection with a similar incident last week.

"In that case he went into the home, stole a gun and apparently a cellphone," Caron said. "He told these homeowners tonight that he had stolen a gun before, so we're pretty sure it's the same guy."

Caron said neither the gun nor cellphone from the previous robbery was recovered at the scene of Thursday's shooting. In fact, while the suspect claimed to have had a gun Thursday morning, none was found.

Investigators are treating the incident as a case of self-defense, but Caron said police are conducting a full investigation that will be treated just like any other. Still, the incident appears straightforward.

"I don't see any reason to think it's anything but (self-defense)," Caron said. "They don't know this guy. This guy came into the house, threatened them, claimed he had a gun and, to protect his family, (the homeowner) took that action."

There were three children — 3-year-old twin boys and an infant girl — in the home at the time. None of the family was injured, and police said the family is handling the situation well.

"It's a pretty traumatic experience to have someone break into your home and then threaten you," Caron said. "Then, to actually take the man's life in your bedroom is pretty upsetting. All things considered, they were hanging in there pretty well."

Neighbor Bridger Frampton said he spoke to the homeowner and said he sounded rattled and was still in shock. He was one of a number of neighbors who said they would have done the same thing if they had found themselves in a similar situation.

The incident was mentioned Thursday morning in the Utah Legislature where the Utah Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that clarifies a person is justified in defending their home and family against criminal activity and may not be held civilly liable for damage or injury to perpetrators.


An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot.

Parents of the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, embraced their attorneys after a judge announced the jury’s verdict, capping a two-week-long civil trial in which business owner Jovan Milanovic and two relatives were painted as vigilantes who plotted a deadly ambush rather than let authorities deal with a string of recent burglaries.

Phillip and Sue Fox, who filed suit for wrongful death in 2010 on behalf of Fox’s 3-year-old daughter, called the jury’s award a victory in their fight to seek accountability for the death of their son, who they say never posed a threat to the heavily armed men.

“Rob was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime,” Sue Fox said afterward. “I can’t excuse his actions, but he didn’t deserve to be executed.”

The exact amount of the award was $269,500, for factors such as loss of companionship and loss of future earnings. The family will also be awarded some of the costs associated with the more than yearlong legal battle.

The jury of three men and three women deliberated for 2½ days over closely contested testimony about the predawn shooting on April 19, 2009.

Fox, 20, was shot after he and a friend scaled a fence to get inside Southwest Auto Sales at 2444 Platte Place in the city’s Knob Hill neighborhood. According to the accomplice, Brian Corbin, they had smoked methamphetamine and were looking to steal anything to buy more drugs.

Corbin testified he saw two armed men charge out of a building and run in their direction, one of them shouting “we’re gonna get you” in an obscenity-laced threat. Corbin, who escaped by climbing over a car and jumping a fence, said he felt a bullet pass by him as someone fired four gunshots.

Fox was standing inside a small shed when a .45-caliber rifle bullet passed through the shed’s door and pierced his heart.

Police said in a 145-page investigative report that the intruder had knives in his pockets and one strapped to his ankle, but never posed a threat to Milanovic or the other men, his father Ljuban Milanovic and brother-in-law Srdjan Novak.

The men are refugees who came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia in 1998.

Jurors found that Fox’s death was the result of “willful and deliberate” conduct by Jovan Milanovic, who was accused of firing the rifle, and Novak, who supplied the semiautomatic Heckler & Koch that Milanovic used in the killing.

Only Ljuban Milanovic emerged without a judgment against him.

The jurors declined to comment after the trial.

"It's been a long two weeks," one said before getting on an elevator.

The three men were accused of keeping an armed vigil over the auto lot and firing on the first burglars they saw. The men were angry over a series of thefts that began when someone broke in a week earlier and stole keys to customers’ automobiles as well as keys to buildings on the property.

Car stereos were taken in the days that followed, according to testimony.

Under Colorado’s self-defense laws, the use of deadly force is justified only under the “reasonable belief” that it’s necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death. The jury found that none of the men had a legitimate claim of self-defense.

Property rights are not a lawful defense for using deadly force in Colorado, and the state’s so-called Make My Day law, which sets lower standard for using force, applies to households, not businesses.

For the plaintiff's attorneys, Terry Rector and Jennifer Stock, Friday's verdict ended an emotionally draining fight for the girl, Sidney Richardson, who has been cared for by the elder Foxes for the past year.

Rector, of Colorado Springs, had represented Fox on traffic matters, and said his death came as a blow.

"I can see him sitting in my office today," an emotional Rector said as participants filed out of the courthouse.

"This is a victory for Sidney Richardson. It's the only measure of justice we have - we cannot bring her father back."

Said Stock: "This jury didn't let sympathy and bias influence them. That's why we got the correct verdict that follows the law."

Milanovic and his father told police a week before the shooting they would shoot any intruders who returned. Police say the men concealed the rifle in the trunk of a car so well that a police detective initially missed it during a search.

The 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office declined to file charges in the shooting, and instead sent the case to a grand jury, which decided against returning an indictment, effectively clearing the trio of criminal wrongdoing.

The civil award has no criminal implications for the Milanovics or Novak.

Defense attorneys John P. Craver and Chelsey Burns declined to comment.

Read more:Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

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