Lawyer and Former West Virginia Candidate For Attorney General Claims Castle Doctrine Defense In Home Shooting

A West Virginia lawyer Hiram C. Lewis IV, 41, narrowly lost a race to become the state attorney general in 2008 but has now found himself on the other side of the courtroom charged with malicious wounding and wanton endangerment with a firearm. Lewis is accused of shooting a man at his home in Procious, West Virgina. He is invoking the Castle Doctrine, which allows citizens to use lethal force in defense of their homes. I have been a long critic of Castle Doctrine laws, which have spinned off various extensions for the work place, cars, and other locations. Called “Make My Day” laws in some states, we now have “Make My Day Better” laws allowing people to use lethal force in defense of other property like cars as well as laws like “Stand Your Ground” involved in the Zimmerman case and other cases in Florida.

Lewis claimed the man, Stephen Bogart, tried to break into his home and he shot him in the leg. He told reporters “I was totally within my rights. I was in my home when I made the, when I shot him, after he barged in my residence and busted the door down. It’s in God’s hands now, but we are a Castle Doctrine state.”

However, Bogart says that he was living at Lewis’ house. Yet, Lewis said Bogart was not a house guest or roommate. Rather, he says that he is a homeless veteran he had allowed to live for a week at his camp while he looked for work

Lewis is a sole practitioner who served as the GOP treasurer and ran against Robert C. Byrd for US Senate in 2006. He also lost a bid for West Virginia Attorney General against Darrell McGraw.

These laws are generally written, making it difficult to prosecute homeowners even in cases of mistaken intrusion as when drunken neighbors come into a home.

Here is the code provision:

§55-7-22. Civil relief for persons resisting certain criminal activities.
(a) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence is justified in using reasonable and proportionate force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker to prevent a forcible entry into the home or residence or to terminate the intruder’s or attacker’s unlawful entry if the occupant reasonably apprehends that the intruder or attacker may kill or inflict serious bodily harm upon the occupant or others in the home or residence or if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder or attacker intends to commit a felony in the home or residence and the occupant reasonably believes deadly force is necessary.
(b) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder or attacker in the circumstances described in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) A person not engaged in unlawful activity who is attacked in any place he or she has a legal right to be outside of his or her home or residence may use reasonable and proportionate force against an intruder or attacker: Provided, That such person may use deadly force against an intruder or attacker in a place that is not his or her residence without a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that he or she or another is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from which he or she or another can only be saved by the use of deadly force against the intruder or attacker.

(d) The justified use of reasonable and proportionate force under this section shall constitute a full and complete defense to any civil action brought by an intruder or attacker against a person using such force.

(e) The full and complete civil defense created by the provisions of this section is not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing or escaping from the commission of a felony;

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself, herself or another with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; or

(3) Otherwise initially provokes the use of force against himself, herself or another, unless he or she withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

(f) The provisions of this section do not apply to the creation of a hazardous or dangerous condition on or in any real or personal property designed to prevent criminal conduct or cause injury to a person engaging in criminal conduct.

(g) Nothing in this section shall authorize or justify a person to resist or obstruct a law-enforcement officer acting in the course of his or her duty.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2011 4th Special Session

Note the standard is “reasonably apprehends that the intruder or attacker may kill or inflict serious bodily harm upon the occupant or others in the home or residence or if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder or attacker intends to commit a felony in the home or residence and the occupant reasonably believes deadly force is necessary.” The question is whether Lewis reasonably apprehended that Bogart was there to harm him or commit a felony in the residence if he knew him. The key in the case may turn on the different accounts on whether Bogart was staying at the residence. Some reports state that Bogart was able to show that he had possessions in the home as proof that he was living there.

Lewis does not appear able to pay the $100,000 bail and remains in jail.

Source: West Virginia Recordas first seen on ABA Journal

81 thoughts on “Lawyer and Former West Virginia Candidate For Attorney General Claims Castle Doctrine Defense In Home Shooting”

  1. I707, as you probably know, drug addiction has a complex history. From talking to many addicts, they often get started by thinking they can just “try it out,” and cannot conceive a drug taking over their lives. Until it is too late.

    In our area, there seems to be at lest one meth lab bust a day. That is, if they do not blow themselves up first. One meth lab in a mobile home blew up last year. Killed all three guys in the trailer. On the TV news, the end of the trailer had a hole in it that looked as if it had been made by a giant gingerbread man cookie cutter. Reminded me of one of those cartoons where Sylvester or Wiley Coyote gets blown through a wall, leaving a person shaped hole. The blast was big enough that it blew the fellow through the front end of the trailer, leaving a hole the shape of his body.

  2. OS,

    Make sure the corpse is in the house. That’s what rifled slugs are for.

    Play your shrink game someplace else.

  3. ID707,

    You are smarter than I am. I’m sorry for telling you to stay in Sweden. Really.

  4. OS,
    And the source of meth addiction?
    Can’t give any drug figures from here. No cash, you pay for your coffee with a card. Nobody owns a camera, only smartphones. And if it is stolen, then your IP will close down the phone via remote control. So quick sales are important I presume here.

    Jhunky dory, here. The violence potential is
    sickening Did they check to see if the dead rapist was on drugs?

  5. I707, IMHO, the main cause of much of our local crime is drugs. Meth is a real problem in our area and many robberies are carried out in order to get money for drugs–mostly meth. They like cash, but also steal stuff to pawn for money. There has been a rash of automobile break-ins recently. The main thing they steal seems to be audio equipment and stuff like cameras that are easily pawned.

  6. Matt, I agree on the so called “non lethal” rounds. I work with law enforcement and have access to bean bags and “rubber” bullets, but all those do is slow the perp down, without truly disabling. If someone breaks into my home, I assume they mean business. Well, so do I, and in a case like that, I won’t mess around–I am not playing.

    A former district attorney once told me that if I ever did have to use lethal force, just make sure the body is found inside the house, not outside. I thought that was kind of obvious, but it was good advice. A long time ago, I worked on a case where a city police officer came home from work and found a naked teenager on top of his wife, raping her while holding a knife to her throat. Their four year old daughter was standing beside the bed screaming and crying. He held the young man at gunpoint, marching him down the road a hundred yards or so to a bridge where he made the fellow stand at the railing. He shot him in the back of the head and threw the body into the river. His attorney, the district attorney and myself all told him that if he had shot the man in the house, there would not have been any charges filed against him. His reply was that he did not want to kill his wife’s rapist in front of their child, that she was traumatized enough already.

  7. OS,

    Does the Reverend hire out for weed killing jobs?

    And you poor folks, you’d be so bored here.

    The only ones who get robbed are old folks out in the country. And they are waylaid then. No home attacks here.

    The only ones in danger are young girls who follow two guys home, get raped, protest, and “hop” over the balcony railing. Happened recently. The guys are being investigated for possible murder. She did not have a sawed off, but don’t usually need one.

    Only nuts rape a Swedish woman. If she doesn’t want to now, she will next week. And I respect them and their choices.

    All this violent crime. Is it money or is it “getting back” at society, who has abused you, one feels???

  8. Matt, any large bird shot, or even squirrel shot should be OK if you absolutely have to use it indoors. I would not even think of a slug for indoor use. Two reasons. The slug is just a big rifle shot, and if you miss it will end up on the other side of a wall. I want to spray the perp with the biggest spread of shot I can muster. At close range, even squirrel shot can be lethal, but if the perp is not killed, it will definitely do more than make him mad. If you have to shoot somebody; even a crook threatening your family, you are much better off disabling him than killing him. However, if he keeps coming, you can shoot again if you have to. Hope it never comes to that, but in the case of a home invasion, I am looking out for #1, not the health and well being of the crook.

  9. OS,

    How about the dove rounds? You don’t want to get hit at close range with that.

    I prefer rifled slugs because it’s precision. The dove rounds are scattershot. But they usually know where they’re aiming.

  10. Hey, Ay

    Potatoes. Do you know that potatoes have all the nutrients necessary to keep you alive? Potatoes are tubers. Too bad about the tuber blight. There are more Irish in the United States than there are in Ireland.

  11. CLH, I am with you on at least some of your observations. My preference for a home defense weapon is a Mossberg 500 12 gauge pump shotgun. There is nothing on earth that sounds like a round being shucked into the chamber of a pump gun. Also, the Mossberg has a clatter to it that is even more distinct than the sound of an AK-47 cycling. My preference for home defense is the short-barrel option. For those who do not know, Mossberg makes a short barrel for their shotgun that is about 1/4 inch longer than the minimum legal minimum. That means it is not classified as a sawed-off shotgun. The shorter the barrel, the larger the spread of shot and more likely you will hit what you are shooting at, even in poor light conditions.

    I have always felt a handgun was a lousy choice for home defense unless you are a truly fantastic marksman, such as Jerry Miculek. I also prefer goose shot to buckshot if you think you are going to have to use it indoors. Buckshot, like a pistol round, is more likely to go through a wall and hit someone or something on the other side. Sheet rock wall paneling is not bulletproof. Heavy bird shot is safer.

    We have had two instances of home invasions in recent months. Both times it ended badly for the home invaders. The victims were elderly men in their 80s. Up here in the mountains, there is at least one gun for every man, woman and child, so the odds are already stacked against the home invader. At any rate, the score was one crook dead and the other eligible for a Darwin award since, although not killed, he was removed from the gene pool. Both homeowners used 12 gauge shotguns at close range. One crook was hit in the center chest and killed instantly. The other was shot in the groin and lost the family jewels, disabling him until the police and EMTs got there. No charges have been filed against the homeowners.

    This is Jerry Miculek. They actually pay him to do this. Some people have all the luck in their choice of occupation….

  12. And to think he was the “first place loser for Attorney General”…….I’m scared of the next crop of candidates…..

  13. Malisha,

    Where is the gun? Well, lets see, it’s in a secure, safe place. The gun is always maintained with greatest security. Why? Well, that’s classified. You have to have a security clearance to find out.

  14. I707, I once read a book on the art of cursing. One anecdote has stuck in my mind all these years.

    Seems this very devout man of the cloth was also an avid golfer. A truly bad golfer. He was out with a friend one day making divots and putting his ball into the rough, when his friend asked him, “Reverend, you are an awful golfer, but you never seem to get upset when you hit into the rough or a water hazard. How do you manage to keep from cussing?”

    The minister replied calmly, “Notice whenever I miss a shot, I always spit on the ground? Grass never grows on that spot again!”

  15. I pointed out sexual links before, but got no reaction.
    Cruising for the needy to use/abuse is stardard practice.
    Read Patti Smith’s account of her life with an active homosexual man.

    As for being held for moderation, it happened to me a couple of days ago. Wrote around and it went through.
    Don’t know but is seemed to be a count fllter. None of the words themselves were new. But if the list is changed then old filter experience does not apply.

    In a way, the use of four-letters are getting a bit boring. One reason is due to overuse, IMO, on talk shows. “The thrill is gone”.

    Besides, it is more challenging to find more telling ways to insult. But some would not understand the latter, and the former are universal except with nuns.
    Although Mespo or Rafflaw might take exception to the last.

  16. It occurs to me that when you’re holding a gun, you’re putting yourself in a certain position. Either you’re putting yourself in a position to feel pretty damn defensive or you’re putting yourself in a position to feel pretty damn OFFENSIVE. Either way, the weapon is contributing to a state of mind.

    One important point is: Where do you have the gun?
    Another is: WHY?

  17. In all fairness, I did notice earlier today that our host has added four words (and only four) to the moderation filter. And while two of those words are some of my favorite profanity, they are nothing that prevents anyone from getting their point across and given the nature of some of our recent drive-by trolls and their postings, I can certainly understand the decision.

    Speaking of missing postings, where the Hell has eniobob been?

    I haven’t seen that cat in awhile.

    Anybody got a line on him? I hope nothing is wrong. He’s a good guy and he’s been here a long time.

  18. Barking dog, I just lost a posting to you, I have lost two postings to this blawg today. I lose a lot of postings to this blawg. It’s a WordPress problem, not censorship.

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