Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good neighbor policy

Now that cloning of humans is becoming an increasingly likely prospect, I have an important question: Can I get a copy of Joe Horn to move in as my next-door neighbor?

Horn is the Pasadena, Texas, resident who called 911 when he saw two burglars breaking into his neighbors' home. While he stayed on the phone with a 911 operator, the burglars ransacked the house. After long, painful minutes of waiting, with no sign of the police, it looked as if the burglars were going to make good their escape. Horn told the operator that he was going out to confront the burglars with a shotgun. That's exactly what he did. The burglars ended up dead.

A few of the usual ninnies are whining about how terrible it is that Horn shot criminals over "mere" home invasion and property. Asks one letter-writer in the pages of the Houston Chronicle, "Does not human life trump some cash, or an iPod, in Texas?."

Well, no -- at least, it shouldn't. When we're talking about thieves caught in the act, we're talking about people whose lives are worth less than lint. I certainly wouldn't execute them once they've surrendered and been taken into custody, but when they attempt to escape, as these two did when confronted by Horn, shooting them is perfectly justified -- and a step toward neighborhood beautification.

Yep, when the science is perfected I'll be first in line for a Joe Horn clone to install next door.


Fuller coverage of the Joe Horn episode

The Pasadena man who killed two suspected burglars as they left his next-door neighbor's home did not intend to kill them when he stepped outside with his 12-gauge shotgun, his lawyer said Friday. In portraying Joe Horn as a victim of circumstances, lawyer and longtime friend Tom Lambright called the 61-year-old computer consultant "a good family man" who has been devastated by the Wednesday afternoon burglary and shooting.

Killed in the incident in the 7400 block of Timberline were Miguel Antonio DeJesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30, both of Houston. Each had a minor previous brush with the law. Records show DeJesus was charged with failure to identify himself to a police officer in July 2004. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. Ortiz was charged with possession of marijuana in July 2005, but it was later dismissed.

"He (Horn) was just doing what everyone is supposed to do," Lambright said at a news conference in front of the Houston police memorial near downtown. "He called the police. He was cooperating with them as best he could, trying to give the police the direction of the burglars. He knew there was danger going outside."

Horn ignored repeated instructions from a 911 dispatcher to remain in his home. He told the dispatcher, "I'm not going to let them get away with it. I can't take a chance in getting killed over this. OK? I'm gonna shoot. I'm gonna shoot."

While lawyers and legal experts across the city continued to debate the legality of Horn's actions, he has left town with his family, Lambright said. "Hopefully he will see a doctor and maybe get a sedative," he said. "He is not well mentally. This has devastated him. Not in his wildest dreams could he fathom this event." Lambright said Horn, whom he has considered a friend for 41 years, wept inconsolably during their conversations. "Joe is the absolute opposite of what everyone thinks he is," Lambright said. "He is not a cowboy. He is not physical. He's 61 years old and overweight. He's not confrontational. He's just a good guy." Lambright read a written statement in which Horn said the killings would "weigh heavily on me for the rest of my life. My thoughts go out to the loved ones of the deceased." Lambright said Horn was a hunter, but kept the shotgun in his pickup "for security."

Horn lives with his daughter and granddaughter and does not keep firearms in the house, his lawyer said. Lambright said Horn was upstairs working at a computer about 2 p.m. when he heard the sound of breaking glass next door. Horn called 911, engaging in a protracted conversation with the dispatcher, who repeatedly advised him to wait inside until police arrived. "Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house. You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun," the dispatcher told Horn at one point. "You wanna make a bet," Horn responded. "I'm gonna kill them. They're gonna get away."

Lambright contended that Horn was startled to find the burglars just 15 feet from his front door when he stepped onto his porch. "He was petrified at that point," the lawyer said. "You hear him say, 'I'll shoot. Stop!' They jumped. Joe thought they were coming for him. It's a self-defense issue." Attorneys and legal experts said Horn's defense probably will be based on state law that allows people to use deadly force to protect neighbors' property. "If you see someone stealing your neighbor's property, you can get involved and help to stop it," said Sandra Guerra Thompson, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Others disagreed. The statutes that allow people to use deadly force to stop a burglary appear to require that the incident be occurring at night, said Craig Jett, a Dallas criminal defense attorney and president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association. "It can't be during the day," Jett said.

Experts said that a grand jury may sympathize with Horn. Some people believe that you should be able to protect your neighborhood, said Anthony Osso, a Houston criminal defense attorney. Osso said that Horn's defense might be that he wanted to prevent the robbers from leaving until police arrived, but they tried to flee and he shot them. "His best scenario is that he went out to use the threat of deadly force," Osso said. "But they came at him on his own property."

Osso said Horn's 911 call does not tell the whole story about the shooting. Investigators will need information about where the suspects were shot and if they had stopped when Horn ordered them not to move. "Some people on the grand jury will sympathize with him," said Adam Gershowitz, a law professor at South Texas College of Law. "Maybe he shouldn't have done this, but he was acting in a way a lot of people feel." But that does not mean he won't be charged, Gershowitz added. "There's a reason we don't let people take the law into their own hands," he said. "We have a police force for that. As an established society, we believe we are better off with an authorized police force that has standards and training rather than untrained vigilantes."

A transcript of the 911 call suggests Horn intended to do what he felt necessary to stop the burglars. Despite a concerted effort by the dispatcher to persuade him to let police deal with the break-in, Horn was insistent on trying keep them from getting away. "I don't want you going outside, Mr. Horn," the dispatcher said. "Well, here it goes, buddy," Horn said. "You hear the shotgun clicking, and I'm going." Seconds later three shotgun blasts are heard.


TX: Elderly homeowner shoots intruder: "Police said a 76-year-old homeowner heard his dogs barking at around 3 a.m. at his home in the 3700 block of Fordham. He opened the front door and found a suspect prowling around the front yard. When the door opened, the 28-year-old suspect ran inside. The two began fighting, and the homeowner managed to get a shotgun from under the bed. He fired one shot, and the suspect was struck in the hand, shoulder and face. Police arrived, and he was transported to Baylor

Gun-free zones offer criminals, lunatics no-risk targets: "The recent shooting of a Miami Carol City High School algebra teacher identified as Sergio Miranda will no doubt bring wails from gun control extremists that the nation needs tougher gun laws -- when it really serves as another failure of so-called 'gun-free zones.' By all accounts, Mr. Miranda and a colleague were minding their own business outside the school during a lunch break when two gunmen approached in what has been described as an attempted armed robbery that went bad. ... Our sympathies lie with [those] who have been victimized by a law that was perhaps well-intentioned but is so disastrous in its implementation that it may one day be viewed as one of the worst legislative atrocities foisted upon this nation."


Texas Truth said...

These two low-life criminals will never have to worry about making a bad decision again. Their fate was a result of their own actions. To quote my dear old father: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

The world (in general) and Pasadena (specifically) has two less criminals to deal with now. Kudos goes out to Joe Horn. He did what many of us would like to have the courage to do.

I have posts related to this and other topics at my blog, Texas Truth, as

Please feel free to stop by.

cardiacnp said...

BOTTOM LINE: If those THIEVES had chosen NOT to rob that house, they would not have been shot. THEY put themselves in Harm's way....NO ONE is to blame except themselves.

If you choose CRIME as a means to make a living, it is QUITE REASONABLE to think that YOU MAY ACTUALLY BE SHOT, REGARDLESS OF RACE!! There are plenty of whites who have been killed for the same offense.

Quanell X, affirmative action does not apply to criminal behavior. I and millions of other tax paying citizens (who support such punk thugs through the penal system) work hard to purchase the things we have and YES, it is absolutely WORTH KILLING anyone who thinks they have the right to enter my home and EVEN MY NEIGHBORS home and take what is not theirs...period...I just thank GOD that I live in the GREAT STATE of TEXAS whose legislators feel the same way I do.