Testing Missouri's 'Castle doctrine'

Testing Missouri's 'Castle doctrine'

Date: October 2, 2008
By: Jack Cunningham
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: A northern Missouri murder trial is renewing debate over a recent law that legalizes the right to kill home intruders.

Jack Cunningham has more from the State Capitol.

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The trial falls under the one-year-old law called the "Castle Doctrine", which passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. The law establishes a legal right to use deadly force against someone who enters your home or car without your permission. Previously, the law allowed deadly force only to protect one's life. Otherwise, the person was expected to retreat. Kirksville woman Jackie Gleason shot and killed her estranged boyfriend Rogelio Johnson in her own home in May. Johnson was violating a court-order prohibiting him from visiting Gleason's property. A coroner's jury determined the cause of death was a homicide. St. Louis County Democratic Senator Joan Bray was one of just three Senators against the "Castle Doctrine".

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Description: And so it takes that kind of law in a new direction by saying no, just stand your ground and be more violent, rather than try and get out of the way.
Bray says the case sounds complicated with domestic violence involved. County Prosecutor Mark Williams asked the Attorney General's office to review the case because he says he does not think the jury understands the law.
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Description: The problem we have with the "castle doctrine" right now is we do not have, and did not have at the time in August when we presented the case to the coroner's jury, an approved jury instruction for the "castle doctrine".

Williams says juries have trouble ruling on "castle doctrine" cases because they don't have exact instructions to follow the new law.
Cape Girardeau Republican Senator Jason Crowell says he sees no loop-hole in the law and strongly supports it. 
 
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Description: I think if you end up in someone's home, unannounced, uninvited, you can assume, safely, that you're not there because either you're the Easter Bunny wanting to leave eggs and treats or Santa Claus wanting to leave presents.

Crowell says he wants Missourians to be able to defend themselves on a level playing field.
 
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Description: These are law abiding citizens that respect the 2nd Amendment rights, you know, criminals are always going to have guns and the question is: Do we allow law-abiding citizens the right to protect and defend themselves?

Crowell says people get too mixed up trying to protect criminals in these cases.
The Missouri Supreme Court appointed a committee of circuit judges to write instructions to help clear up the confusion on the "Castle Doctrine." Missouri circuit judge Charles Atwell serves on that committee and says they are just following orders. 
 
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Description: The committee has nothing to do with the policy involved.  The committee's job is to write an instruction consistent with the policy that the legislature put in the legislation. So we have no stake in the policy. Our job is to write instruction that fits the law.

Atwell says it is a complicated issue and they are currently writing instructions for the courts. Gleason's trial date is unknown until the Attorney General reviews the case. Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Jack Cunningham.
Intro: Missouri castle doctrine hits main stage at a Kirksville murder trial.

Jack Cunningham has more to report from the State Capitol. 

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Kirksville woman Jackie Gleason says her estranged boyfriend Rogelio Johnson broke in through a window before she shot and killed him in May.

The coroner's jury determined the case was a homicide. A Kirksville prosecutor believes this case falls under the new "Castle doctrine" that gives Missourians the right to kill an intruder. St. Louis County Democratic Senator Joan Bray says she wants to see the case to be explored more in depth.

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Description: It sounds to me like there may be nuances and there may be a lot more to explore in terms of the domestic violence situation. If the woman got a restraining order, there are clearly serious, serious issues in that relationship.

Bray says the "Castle doctrine" takes the law in the wrong direction.
Cape Girardeau Republican Senator Jason Crowell says he strongly supports the law and thinks Missourians should defend themselves on an even playing-field with criminals.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Jack Cunningham.


Intro: A Kirksville murder case sparks debate over the one-year-old "Castle Doctrine".

Jack Cunningham has more to report from the State Capitol. 

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Cape Girardeau Republican Senator Jason Crowell says there is no problem with the "castle doctrine", even when a Kirksville murder case complicates the law.

Kirksville woman Jackie Gleason killed her estranged boyfriend Rogelio Johnson in May, because she said he broke into her home through a window.

Gleason obtained a court order that prevented Johnson from entering her property, but the coroner's jury said the case is a homicide.

Crowell says a person has the right to defend themselves, and their home, and should not be penalized for doing so.

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Description: I think people get wrapped around the axle and want to make excuses for criminals.  I'm not at all opposed to assuming that they're there for bad reason.

Crowell says it is clear that intruders are not in a house to leave presents.

St. Louis County Democratic Senator Joan Bray says she finds the "castle doctrine" offensive and says it takes the law in the wrong direction.

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Jack Cunningham.
```Intro: The Adair County Prosecutor awaits the Attorney General's review so a Kirksville murder case can begin.

Jack Cunningham has more from the State Capitol. 

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Kirksville woman Jackie Gleason shot and killed her estranged boyfriend Rogelio Johnson when he broke his restraining order and broke into her home last May. Adair County Prosecutor Mark Williams says the "Castle doctrine" allows Missourians to kill unlawful intruders, but that the coroner's jury did not understand the law. Williams says he wants the Attorney General to review the case.

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Description: If the intent of the doctrine is to grant immunity, then say it in the statute. If certain facts are there then, grant the immunity to the potential defendant. Don't leave it up to either a prosecutor or a jury to say whether or not the defense has been met and is completed.
 
Williams says juries need specific instructions for "Castle doctrine" cases.
Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Jack Cunningham.

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