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April 01, 2007

More Detail On Texas "Rapist" Shooting Case

Dogstar sends this account of the story, which contains a detail I didn't notice in the other one. The detail seems to support the grand jury's refusal to indict the husband:

When he arrived, Roberson saw his wife, clad in a robe and underwear, with a man in a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, police have said. After Tracy Roberson claimed that the man was trying to rape her, her husband fired four shots at the vehicle as the man tried to drive away with his wife, police have said.

So, from his perspective, his wife was being raped and also abducted by her rapist. He believed he was stopping a serious crime (or several of them, actually) in progress. What else could he have done?

Sure, he could have fired warning shots or shouted for the man to stop driving and all that stuff, but that frankly strikes me as fantasy.

Given those facts, lawyers believe the grand jury's finding was perfectly reasonable and logical.

Legal experts said they have never heard of a case quite like this before but that the legal theory behind it seems sound.

"It certainly is different," said George E. Dix, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. "But the theory sounds perfectly acceptable to me. That is interesting."

Jason Gillmer, an associate professor at Texas Wesleyan School of Law in downtown Fort Worth, agreed.

"I've never heard of a case like this, but if you think about the theory behind it, it makes sense," Gillmer said. "He is entitled to defend his wife and his family against aggravated assault. If he believes that is what is happening, he is entitled to use force. She didn't intend for her husband to kill her lover, but she recklessly caused it.

"Whether or not a jury will be convinced remains to be seen."

It's basic law that a crime requires both an "bad act" and a "bad thought." Lacking either, you don't have a crime. We definitel have a bad outcome here -- an innocent (well, legally so) man was shot dead; that's definitely a "bad act" -- but we have no bad thought that caused it. From the husband's perspective, he was acting legally, justifiably, and, well, somewhat heroically in attempting to save his wife from her "rapist/kidnapper."

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posted by Ace at 04:25 PM

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