Texas Couple Kills Seven-Year-Old and Wounds Adult Who Trespassed on Property

2398616Texas is proud of its laws allowing citizens to shoot and kill intruders into their homes under so-called Castle Doctrine or “Make My Day” laws. However, critics have charged that these laws have encouraged homeowners who are predisposed to use violence as the first response to intrusions as in the recent cases of Joe Horn and other homeowners. Those critics may have another case in Sheila Muhs, 45, and her husband, Gayle Muhs, 45. The couple did not wait for a home intrusion before allegedly killing seven-year-old Donald Coffey Jr. and seriously wounding Patrick Cammack, 30. Five-year-old Destiny Coffey and her father and Donald Coffey Sr. were also wounded. The family (including a 5-year-old sister) were off-roading when they stopped to allow the kids to go to the bathroom.

The Muhs live in a small house with rebel flag flying from the roof and a sign that reads: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will.”

The boy was hit in the head.

It is not clear that the off-roaders were actually trespassing. Sheila Muhs reportedly fired once with a 12-gauge shotgun and then handed it to her husband, who also fired once. Sheila told a dispatcher that “They’re out here tearing up the levee, so I shot them.”

What is notable is that with a shotgun, they could not have been too far away to cause this level of injuries — close enough to see the children. By handing over the gun, they also showed obvious pre-meditation.

For the full story, click here.

60 thoughts on “Texas Couple Kills Seven-Year-Old and Wounds Adult Who Trespassed on Property”

  1. mespo727272,

    Unless I’m reading it wrong, you missed the “and”. You’ve got to come up with something under part 3 as well, and that’s the stickier part.

  2. FFLEO,

    My stance against the death penalty is not that cut and dry. While there are some crimes that should require one to take one for the team (pedophilia, mass murder, cannibalism as a lifestyle choice, etc.), my opposition is primarily to the economics of the death penalty and the occasional error. Not all liberals are carte blanc against the death penalty and brining the subject up is far from fruitless. Discussion is always welcome. Is the death penalty merited in this case? Probably not. This crime reeks of both stupid and evil, but mostly stupid. I want a little more premeditation to justify death, even in such a heinous crime as this. Prison is just about right for these two although I’ll stipulate I like mespo’s island idea. But I say not only restock the sharks around the island, give the prisoners sunscreen.

    Bacon scented sunscreen.

    Then not only will they be in danger from the sharks, but they might turn on each other in a fit of cannibalistic karma and cancel each other out like a stupid matter/anti-matter explosion. Or it’d just be a treat for the sharks. Everything is better with bacon.

  3. Rafflaw:

    My main point was not we should execute for deterrence.
    It was that vengence (among other reasons) is a viable motivation for the death penalty, presuming a reliable conviction.

    For those who oppose the death penalty for reasons of missed innocence, I agree that is a strong argument.
    But there are some situations where there is no question of guilt, like where the perp admits to it, or when there is indisputable video evidence, or other situations I am not conjuring here.

    Additionally, I think the rules of evidence need to be seriously shored up, particularly for capital trials where death is a possible penalty. I think the standard has to be higher than beyond a reasonable doubt, if we are going to kill someone upon conviction, and I think a colorable claim of prosecutorial misconduct should automatically preempt a possible death sentence.

  4. The only reason I’m against the death penalty has nothing to do with religion or political ideology. It is simply for this reason:

    Sometimes the justice system gets it wrong.

    We have seen time after time people being being released from prison for crimes they never committed. People who were jailed for years, decades in many cases, and they were innocent all along.

    It is horrible enough to think that somebody has been robbed of their freedom and their years with their families because mistakes were made in the process, but can you imagine the horror of being wrongly accused of a crime and then not only being convicted but eventually being put to death for a crime you never committed?

    That, I believe, is the strongest case against the death penalty. Sometimes the system fails.

    Let them live out their lives in confinement, stripped of the freedoms we enjoy, but at least in the few cases where those who are truly innocent are concerned, give them the opportunity to gain their freedom if it in fact deserved.

    I realize that in a case like this it seems pretty clear-cut … but isn’t that the slippery slope we tread upon?

    Did anyone here see that 60 Minutes story a month or two ago about the woman who was raped and got the wrong man convicted?

    Fascinating, heart-breaking story and enough to make me rethink my stance on the death penalty …

  5. I would be arguing 9.42(2)A) since our child assassins were in uncontrollable fear and did in fact say that the dangerous 7 year old and his 5 year old henchmen were “tearing down the levees,” at night. Presto-chango and viola you have perpetrating criminal mischief. If Texas condones this murder, I say make ’em secede.

  6. I’m one of those rare pro-gun leftist/progressive types. The gun forum that I read is unanimous in agreeing that these idiots need to either go away for life or be put to death. Also, if they get off, it will be because a jury chooses to ignore the law. As extreme as Texas castle law doctrine is, it still definitely does not allow what happened here. The relevant part of the statute:

    Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

    (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

    (A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or

    (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property; and

    (3) he reasonably believes that:

    (A) the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means; or

    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

    As for the death penalty, there are many legitimate reasons to oppose it. I need only one. The risk of executing the innocent.

  7. Well FF LEO,

    I hear the have a Vacancy on the US District Court for the Southern District of Galveston? Until of course the US kicks Texas out or we go back to being Texas a whole nother Country.

  8. Pardon me?

    Fortunately, you live a good 5 hours’ drive from *that* part of Texas.

  9. I think that it is good that you both Jill and FF LEO have different opinions and values but remain the same in the ability to agree to disagree the greatest act of civility that two people can share.

    Have you thought about going and settling the current affairs of the world? Nah, don’t do that then we would have nothing to talk about.

    To All that may care and read it even if you don’t.

    Hey, this was my first day back in the legal field in nearly 2 years. I am my own boss sort of but I do not have to go back to the courtroom unless I want. I feel like I have only been up for a few hours, so I guess it was a good day. Man the day flew by.

    Then I went to a meeting tonight for depressed attorneys. It feels good to be able to identify what ails me without turning to the ale or stout or lager or . . . .or the sauce of the Vintners to fell this good.

  10. GaryT,
    The death penalty is not a deterrent to future crimes.
    Is there any more reason to do a forced secession from the Union for the great state of Texas? These two mental giants need to see the bad side of a cell for a long, long time.

  11. Leo

    Having an opinion is never pointless. You may or may not find agreement, but you have a point of view that you state convincingly.

    Whether we come to agreement on this or any other issue is not the goal of being here, is it?

    Clearly I have no idea how I might feel about capital punishment had I ever lost a loved one to violent crime. On the other hand, my ideas about torture are definitely informed by my experience as a child of a holocaust survivor and my own experience with anti-Semitism.

    The great issues that divide this nation: abortion, gay marriage and gays in the military, torture and capital punishment, the right for a 12 year old to own an Uzi, reinstatement of the draft among others are not cause for cynicism, or rudeness and I am grateful for your reasonable approach to discussion.

    Clearly you put some thought into life without possibility of parole vs. capital punishment and that is all anyone can or should ask.

  12. FFLEO,

    It’s not pointless. Please don’t assume that I and other people never gave serious consideration to the death penalty. It is true that people who really think about things may come to opposite conclusions. I think that is the case here.

  13. Jill,

    I know that stating what I did on a liberal site is pointless because there is no room for debate on either side of the issue. I hate illegal drugs I have never used them but many here have used them and want to legalize drugs and drug use/legalization on a liberal site is just another pointless debate.


  14. FFLEO,

    I want to say that I am deeply sorry for what happened, both to the person you loved and to everyone who still suffers as the result of such a horrible, terrifying and brutal murder.

    I actually do know someone who was tortured and nearly murdered. They just got lucky.

    There is no reason that housing murderers in prison for life should preclude healthcare treatment for innocent and deserving people. The reason I oppose the death penalty is the reason I oppose torture. There are some things the state should never do. Doing them promotes more violence and cruelty in our society.

    I know we won’t ever agree on the death penalty.
    The most important thing I want to convey here is how deeply sorry I am for what happened to someone you loved and how badly I feel for everyone who suffers now.

  15. Well, just be very thankful that you have not had someone close to you who was tortured, mutilated, and then murdered. No one else who posts here is more individualist than I am. However, in a society we all must obey societal law, honor the rights of others, and ‘fit in’.

    Keeping sociopathic murderers—who have no conscience—alive and well cared for with housing, healthcare, and all of the necessities of life, who can never be an asset to society, over providing healthcare or medicine to other innocent and deserving people, is simply unconscionable in my worldview.

  16. Just when you think you’ve just about heard it all….
    Ages ago, my room mates and I had a daily subscription to the SF Chronicle. Mondays on page 2 featured stuff like this story. We called it Power News and we cut it out and stuck the columns on the walls of out kitchen. Most of it was beyond any fiction we could invent and we were really creative people. I remember a story about a man who cut a hole in the water bed he shared with his wife (someplace in the bible best) and tried to drown her by shoving her head in the hole. He said, when interviewed by the arresting officer, that he did it because he did not like her new hair-do.

    This couple, the Muhs, shot and killed a 7-year old and then called 911 to complain about the off-road vehicle?
    The woman shot the kid and then passed the shotgun to her husband to do more shooting, more killing?

    I, like Jill, do believe that capital punishment is wrong, it serves no one and history has clearly shown that it is not any deterrent to violent crime. Neither is the 3-strikes law. Apparently, if one is determined to shoot/kill someone else the last thing that stops them is the thought that they may be tried and sentenced to death.

    Whether the universe is better off without people like the Muhs is beside the point.

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