Friday, April 21, 2006

Kansas City, Missouri

From Kansas City’s of April 21, 2006
Guilty: Self-defense case has activists up in arms

A guilty verdict in a self-defense case has upset activists claiming a person should have the right to shoot intruders when they break into their home.

A Jackson County Judge found Mitchell Robinson guilty of manslaughter Thursday. The case hinged on whether he should have locked the door to keep out the intruder and how far he could go to protect himself.

"(Robinson) goes inside, shuts the door, the backs up as far back as he can inside the kitchen and gets a shotgun out," said Robinson's defense attorney Lucy McShane.

McShane says Robinson thought he was acting in self-defense when he shot a neighbor in his building on W. 39th Street near Roanoke.

Lawyers say the victim was angry and on drugs and chased Robinson up some narrow stairs. Robinson ran inside his apartment and shut – but did not lock – the door. He shot after the victim broke in and confronted him.

"He was afraid for his life," McShane said. "That's what he told the judge. He said it was a situation where 'either it was him or me.'"

What happened in the apartment building may have lead to a different outcome in court if a bill making its way through the Missouri Legislature had passed yet. Self-defense activists call it the "castle doctrine" and say it will expand the opportunity for people to protect themselves in their homes.

Kevin Jamison of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance promotes self-defense rights. He says the intruder should not have barged in and could have turned back when he saw the shotgun.

"I'm tremendously frustrated in cases like this when it goes bad on you," Jamison said. "If we had a pure castle doctrine law in Missouri, and it hadn't passed yet, then the judge would have had other factors to look at – might have come to a different decision."

The defense is not too upset about the verdict – the judge found Robinson guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than the more serious charge of second degree murder.

Robinson is out on bond until he is sentenced.

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