Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Man Cleared for Killing Neighbor's Burglars

A Texas man who shot and killed two men he believed to be burglars while he was talking to a 911 dispatcher won't be going to trial. A grand jury on Monday declined to indict Joe Horn, a 61-year-old computer technician who lives in Pasadena, Texas, just outside Houston.
Before making its decision, the grand jury listened to the dramatic 911 tapes from Nov. 14, 2007, when Horn called to say two burglars were robbing his neighbor's home. Horn ignored the dispatcher's pleas not to open fire.
Joe Horn: "I've got a shotgun; you want me to stop him?"
Dispatcher: "Nope. Don't do that. Ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?"
Joe Horn: "Hurry up, man, catch these guys, will you? Because I ain't gonna let them go. I'm gonna kill him."
Dispatcher: "OK, stay in the house
Joe Horn: "They're getting away!"
Dispatcher: "That's alright."
Joe Horn: (Shouts to suspects) "Move, you're dead."
Three gunshots can be heard on the tape. Both suspects were shot in the back and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson stood by the grand jury's decision.
"I understand the concerns of some in the community regarding Mr. Horn's conduct," Magidson told reporters at the courthouse. "The use of deadly force is carefully limited in Texas law to certain circumstances. ... In this case, however, the grand jury concluded that Mr. Horn's use of deadly force did not rise to a criminal offense
The dead men, Diego Ortiz and Miguel de Jesus, were two illegal immigrants from Colombia. Family and friends wanted to see Horn prosecuted.
"This man took the law into his own hands," Stephanie Storey, De Jesus' fiancée, told ABC News just after the shootings. "He shot two individuals in the back after having been told over and over to stay inside. It was his choice to go outside and his choice to take two lives."
Monday's decision ignited a firestorm in Houston on both sides of the issue. Debate raged on local talk radio, on street corners and on blogs. One resident, Keith Sabharwal, said, "That's what I want my neighbor to do; I really don't think he should have gotten into trouble for it."
But another resident, Ronald Elkins, disagreed. "His actions were rash and he did not take into account [what] the consequences of his actions were going to be".
The same debate raged on Timberline Drive, where Horn still lives
He's going to get his karma... you live by the gun. You die by the gun.


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