Texan kills burglars next door, citing 'castle doctrine'
A so-called "castle doctrine" law recently passed in Texas allows people to use deadly force to protect their homes and property. However, a case in which a Houston-area man in his 70's killed two apparent burglars he observed breaking into his neighbor's house has raised new questions about how far that doctrine might extend.
The man called an emergency dispatcher when he first saw the alleged burglars, saying "I've got a shotgun, do you want me to stop them?"
"Nope, don't do that," replied the dispatcher. "Ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, ok? ... I've got officers coming out there. I don't want you to go outside that house."
"I understand that," the caller replied, "but I have a right to protect myself too, sir, and you understand that. And the laws have been changed in this country since September the 1st, and you know it and I know it."
After five minutes, the dispatcher was no longer able to restrain the caller, who stepped outside and shot both men, reporting, "Here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going. ... Boom, you're dead. ... I had no choice."
A grand jury will decide whether the man can be charged with a crime. He will probably be found to have acted legally if it is determined that the neighbor whose house was broken into had asked him to protect his property, but not otherwise.
The Texas state senator who wrote the law said it was not meant to apply to anyone's property but your own and "is not designed to have kind of a 'Law West of the Pecos' mentality or action."
Similar laws are on the books in other states and have already given rise to a number of controversial incidents.
The following video is from CBS's Early Show, broadcast on November 15, 2007.