Since the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, stand-your-ground laws and
their relation to criminal defense have been in the news across the country.
More recently, Texas's stand-your-ground law, referred to as the Castle
Doctrine, has also been in the local news because of a deadly dispute
Last week, a retired Houston-area firefighter was found guilty on the charge
of murder for shooting a 36-year-old neighbor during an argument over
a loud house party. The 47-year-old, retired firefighter claimed he exercised
proper self-defense, but jurors believed he was outside his right to use
Texas's stand-your-ground law.
In 2010, the retired firefighter was upset about noise coming from a loud
nearby house party hosted by his 36-year-old neighbor. The 36-year-old
neighbor, an elementary school teacher, was hosting a joint birthday party
for his wife and daughter. The 47-year-old went to the home and got into
an argument with the 36-year-old and two other men attending the party.
According to the prosecutor of the case, the retired firefighter started
the confrontation when he armed himself with a handgun and lured the 36-year-old
and two other men onto the street instead of asking his neighbor to turn
down the music. The retired firefighter also documented the interaction
with a video camera, and after one of the men grabbed his camera, the
firefighter shot and killed the neighbor. The neighbor and the two men
Texas's stand-your-ground law is referred to as the Castle Doctrine,
and five years ago it was expanded to include the right to use deadly
force. The law allows people to defend themselves in their home, workplace
and vehicle. However, the law does not allow a person using force to provoke
the attacker or be involved in other criminal activity at the time of incident.
The prosecutor of the case said the retired firefighter cannot use the
stand-your-ground argument because he provoked the attack. The defense
attorney representing the firefighter said his client felt threatened
in the street and that he did not provoke anyone.
Source: The Associated Press, "Texas Jury Convicts Man in Stand-Your-Ground
Case," Juan A. Lozano, June 14, 2012