A Nevada man said this week that he was innocent under Nevada’s “stand your ground” law after he fatally shot an unarmed man and wounded a woman who were sleeping inside one of his vacant properties.
According to Sparks police, 73-year-old Wayne Burgarello was told that someone was trespassing at one of his vacant properties on Feb. 13, and armed himself with two handguns, KTVN reported.
Burgarello found 34-year-old Cody Devine and 29-year-old Janai Wilson sleeping inside the home, and shot them. Devine was killed, while Wilson was seriously wounded.
Following the shooting, Wilson told police that she and Devine had fallen asleep in the vacant duplex after injecting methamphetamine. She said that the property was often unlocked, and that she had occasionally slept there over the last 3 years.
Wilson recalled that the shooting began after Burgarello entered the building and ordered the couple to get off the floor.
“The arm came up like a gun, and I reacted,” Burgarello told police, according to an affidavit.
An autopsy found that Devine had been shot five times, including one shot that struck him in the head. Wilson was shot in the leg and the stomach, but she was able to flee to contact police.
Three months after the investigation began, Sparks police arrested Burgarello Tuesday on charges of first degree murder and attempted murder.
Devine’s mother, Debbie Peckham, told reporters on Wednesday that her son had been unarmed when he was killed for being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I usually knew where he was,” she said. “We would assume that my son saw stuff in the house and would’ve assumed it was okay for him to stay there. That’s just what I’m assuming in a mother’s heart.”
Pastor Rev. Howard Dotson, who organized candlelight vigils following the shootings, has criticized police for acting slowly in charging Burgarello.
“You can’t hide behind ‘stand your ground,'” Dotson explained.
“These stand your ground laws — people are getting killed for Skittles,” the pastor pointed out. “People are getting killed for throwing a popcorn box or having loud music, and now Cody was killed for being on a date.”
Watch the video below from KTVN, broadcast May 29, 2014.