Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pennsylvania man who shoots robber in the back half-hour after robbery charged with murder

A Franklin County man, Mickle Joe Shaffer, was charged with homicide after pursuing and shooting a stranger who entered Shaffer's home on Christmas morning to commit a robbery with an assault rifle, reported The York Daily Record.

The shooting comes more than two years after Pennsylvania adopted the "stand-your-ground" or "Castle Doctrine" law. Act 10 of 2011 allows a person to use deadly force in self-defense against an intruder or attacker. It states that people have "a right to remain unmolested within their homes or vehicles" and should not be required "to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack outside" their homes or vehicles.

The law is specific in its protection of a person who stands his or her ground in a building or vehicle and outside a building or vehicle.

According to the state police account, Shaffer went after the armed robber Janorris Hughes once Hughes ran away from the house. Shaffer caught up with Hughes and shot him when Hughes turned to run.

The elements are present for a stand-your-ground defense, but the timing is off. Shaffer's reported actions conflict with the legal standard:

• Hughes either had to be "in the process" of unlawfully and forcefully entering the house or inside the house after unlawfully and forcefully entering it. According to the police account, a stranger (Hughes) entered Shaffer's home with an assault rifle and ordered the people to a bedroom. Terry "Dread" L. Fulton, 36, fought with Hughes. Both Hughes and Fulton ran from the house.

• Outside the house, Shaffer had the right to use deadly force under Act 10 if he believed that it was "immediately necessary" to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury from an attacker. According to authorities, Shaffer shot Hughes in the back about a half-hour after the attempted robbery.

• Act 10 also requires that a person using deadly force outside a building or vehicle actually see an attacker displaying or using a firearm or a replica of a firearm. Police did not say whether Hughes was armed when he was shot, but mentioned only an assault rifle in their court document.

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