There is no doubt to owning your own home is a dream of every person in this country. It is your territory. Unfortunately, everyday in this country and around the world, a home gets invaded by criminals intent on stealing stuff that people have worked so long and hard to obtain. Many of these criminals are very brazen in their efforts. Some do not care if the home is occupied or not, they will use any force necessary to achieve their intents. In some instances, that means shooting the homeowners or members of their families. That scenario is the worst fear of any homeowner. It is refreshing to know that a homeowner has the right to defend his or her property and family in the case of a burglary; this law is know as “Stand Your Ground”. The owner cannot be prosecuted for using deadly force on an intruder if their is imminent danger to the owner or his or her family, That law has once again been at the center of attention this week in Minnesota and throughout the nation with the Bryon Smith case.
To summarize what happened, Smith is being prosecuted for killing a couple of teenagers who entered his home in November of 2012. Prior to the killing, Smith’s home had been burglarized several times. The way the killings were carried out leaves Smith with an almost certain guilty verdict as well as his actions after the killings. On Thanksgiving Day, 2012, Smith was in the basement of his home when he heard somebody trying to break into his house. The two teenagers, a boy and a girl entered the home with the intent on stealing pain killer drugs. Smith hid in the basement, grab his gun and waited for the teens to come downstairs. The boy was the first to enter the basement where he was promptly shot and killed. The girl did not enter the basement until about 5 minutes later, no doubt to check on her accomplice. As she walked down the basement steps, Smith shot her numerous times, including an execution style shot which he described as a finishing shot. He wrapped the bodies in his basement and did not report the shootings until the next day.
There is little doubt in my mind that Smith went too far in this case. It is obvious that he probably snapped after months of burglaries and growing frustration. The teens were not armed and Smith was not in imminent danger. But at the time, is that a certainty? He had several guns stolen from his home and I can certainly understand his fear. I think many homeowners would have assumed these teens were armed and dangerous. You just never know. This “Stand Your Ground” rightly gives a homeowner certain rights. But it also leaves so many questions that would test even the best prosecutors and defense attorneys. The imminent danger clause is very vague. Suppose a homeowner has a certain prejudice against a certain race and captures kids of that race breaking into his home. He shoots and kills them. He makes up this story that he thought they had weapons when he knew all along he was in no danger. The only reason he shot them was because of the color of their skin. In many cases like this, there are few witnesses so proving beyond any reason can be a difficult task. Just look at what happened in the Trayvon Martin case.
I think the moral of this story is quite simple. If you are thinking about burglarizing some house, just remember that the homeowner could be waiting for you with a gun. That thought should make any potential burglar think twice before unlawfully entering someone’s home. You might pay for your life! I am sure these kids were not thinking that. They were probably thinking this burglary is going to be a peace of cake. Encountering an angry old man with a gun in his basement was those teen’s worst nightmare and hopefully this will deter other criminals young and old from doing the same. Being greeted at somebody’s home with a bullet is any criminal’s worst nightmare.