Question Of When Deadly Force Can Be Used Generates Comments

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A botched burglary that we first reported yesterday, has many up in arms. Comments on our website about a Sumner County homeowner arrested after shooting men he caught on his property have reached record numbers.

But Sumner County Sheriff Captain Mike Yoder told KAKE News Tuesday that not all of the details about the burglary at the home in Milton, Kansas are out yet.

Captain Yoder says the homeowner fired shots at the suspects. One was hit and is in a Wichita hospital with part of his jaw shattered from the shot.

A question that has many people puzzled is why the homeowner was arrested for aggravated battery in the shooting. That question has generated an avalanche of comments on our KAKE.com website. It's one of the most-commented stories since the website's inception.

One online commenter named Stuart asked the question, "Can't a person protect their property anymore?" Yoder answers, "You still have the right to defend yourself. You still have the right to use force against someone breaking into your house. And you have the right to use deadly force if it's justified." And, whether it is justified gets to the heart of the issue right now.

"In Kansas the statutes say you can use deadly force to protect yourself or someone else if you feel your life is in danger or someone else's life is in danger," Yoder explained. He said the same is true if someone is breaking into your house. However, there is a question about that in this case. "There's a question whether anyone was actually in the house or not," Yoder said.

That question can make a huge difference because Yoder says the homeowner heard something out in his detached garage, went outside, and then fired shots at the burglary suspects.

Investigators still need to interview the suspect in the hospital and find two suspects who are still at large. "We're actively seeking those folks now," Yoder said. Yoder believes that once all the details can come out, people won't be so quick to jump to conclusions or criticize the arrest of the homeowner.

The homeowner was arrested and booked on suspicion of aggravated battery. It'll be up to the county attorney whether to actually formally charge the homeowner. That might not happen. But so far this story is generating a lot of buzz among viewers.


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