Sailors: Georgia Man Charged In Killing Of Driver Who Pulled Into Driveway Due To Faulty GPS Directions

Sailorsarticle-2270105-173BCBED000005DC-566_306x423Phillip Walker Sailors, 69, has been charged with malice murder in the killing of Rodrigo Abad Diaz, a 22-year-old Cuban immigrant who mistakenly pulled into his driveway due to faulty GPS directions.

Friends in the car told police that they were trying to pick up a friend to go ice skating on Saturday when their GPS directed them to Sailors’ address. They waited in the driveway for a few minutes when Sailors emerged and fired a shot in the air. They told police that Diaz was trying to turn around the car when Sailors then fired a round into the car, killing him. Sailors then held the group at gunpoint until police arrived.

Sailors was a war veteran and a former church missionary.

His attorney has already said that Sailors thought he was defending his home and that he was going to be run down, even though the fatal bullet was fired when the car was moving away from the home and Sailors. The comments suggest a type of mistaken Castle Doctrine defense. Georgia is one of the states with a Castle Doctrine law. The Georgia law states:

O.C.G.A. § 16-3-23
Use of force in defense of habitation

A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack upon a habitation; however, such person is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if:

(1) The entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner and he or she reasonably believes that the entry is attempted or made for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the assault or offer of personal violence;

(2) That force is used against another person who is not a member of the family or household and who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using such force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred; or

(3) The person using such force reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony.

Thus it is based on a “reasonable belief.” The lawyer was quick to point out that another neighbor had recently been burglarized. However, that would not be enough for a reasonable belief. Then there is the question of the use of the law for a driveway. I have seen cases where these laws have been extended down driveways as a curtilage of the home, but that is a matter of state interpretation. The picture below shows a long driveway at the scene.

The decision to charge “malice murder” is interesting since it requires a higher level of intent of scienter:

16-5-1 Murder/Felony Murder | Georgia Law
(a) A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

(b) Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

(c) A person also commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

(d) A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for life.

Malice murder is a term that is not common in many states but clearly distinguishes an act as more premeditated than manslaughter.

If the defense lawyer’s comments are any indication, it appears that the claim will turn on Sailors responding to noise in his driveway and then facing a car that was moving toward him. He may argue that he fired after avoiding the car to stop what he thought were felons. It is a tough claim to make when you have a car full of witnesses testifying to the contrary.

At his age, it would not take much of a sentence to be the equivalent of life for Sailors. Prison tends to speed up the aging process and older incarcerated tend to do poorly. He may also face a civil wrongful death action from the family that could complicate matters in terms of legal fees etc.

Source: Atlanta Journal


35 thoughts on “Sailors: Georgia Man Charged In Killing Of Driver Who Pulled Into Driveway Due To Faulty GPS Directions”

  1. Mike A,

    The only thing wrong with your post….. I didn’t say it… Succinct and to the point…. Thank you…

  2. No question this guy is mental…you don’t go OUT of your house to shoot someone…who you THINK…MAY pose a danger.

    Just wonder if dementia has set in…

  3. Pete, I’m glad you mentioned the iced tea and skittles. Professor does not seem to think Sailors had a right to shoot his target, but in point of fact, the shooter in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case had a lot LESS to complain about than a car in his own driveway. Yet Professor was very defensive of Zimmerman’s position in killing unarmed Trayvon Martin.

    This castle doctrine stuff needs to stay IN THE CASTLE. Don’t go outside and cross the moat and then talk about defending yourself. If you need a defense, don’t fling yourself out in the line of any fire you may be imagining, especially if YOU ARE CARRYING a weapon capable of killing with the pull of a finger.

    This is too simple to be mistaken by rational people. If you’re scared, stay where you’re safe, and call the police. Don’t go clearing the world of people YOU find fearsome; there may be way too many of them.

  4. Balanced
    1, January 30, 2013 at 8:43 am
    Yawn. Now, what if there were in fact burglar tools in the car, then I think this case becomes interesting.

    a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles?

  5. “This is one of the more horrific stories I’ve seen in a while. Not because of the level of carnage — there’s much, much worse. But because of the mix of fear, bad luck, rapid resorts to violence and what I can’t help but think is a generous dollop of gonzo press hype about crime and how you need to rapidly resort to your gun. Unlike some other recent stories, you can’t reduce this to the gun issue or the race issue. But they’re both there.

    From NBCLatino …

    Rodrigo Diaz, 22, was driving around with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking they had arrived at another friend’s house, his brother says. But instead he pulled into the driveway of Phillip Sailors, 69, who thought his home was being robbed, his lawyer says. Sailors then shot Diaz, according to the police report, citing what Sailors told officers at the scene. Diaz later died after surgery.

    “Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” says his brother David E. Diaz-Valencia, 23. “The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”

    The car’s GPS apparently led Diaz and his friends to the wrong home. Sailors’ lawyer says Sailors feared he and his wife were about to be the victim of a home invasion. He’s now in the county jail charged with murder.” Josh Marshall. TPM

  6. bettykath has it exactly right. Watch the local news in any city, what do you see? Fire, murder, burglary, assault. Studies have shown there is a direct relation between the amount of news you watch and the amount of crime you think there is. Crime is rare but if you watch the news you’re convinced that you’re the next victim. So carry a gun and be prepared for the stranger that pulls up to your house.

    And now with international news at our fingertips, we hear of every child abduction, home invasion, etc. that happens anywhere in the country. So if we watch the news a lot, we are convinced crime is everywhere and if I don’t take the matter into my hands I’ll be the next victim.

    Don’t be so fearful, most people are good. Most people will help you if you ask. Very few people take advantage of you or will harm you.

  7. I am just speculating here since I don’t have the case report to review, but in my opinion I am having a tough time with the defendant’s excuse for what happened.

    The witness said in the video on the newscast’s website the defendant walked outside then returned to the house and then came out with the gun, firing a warning shot and then shot the victim.

    The defendant claims he feared he was about to be run over.

    The ballistics are going to sort this out more apparently but what strikes me is that the victim was hit in the left side of his head. I don’t know where the bullet entered the vehicle but to me this would be consistent with either the bullet entering from the left side of the vehicle (and therefore the suspect was not in front of it) or the bullet was fired from the front and the victim was hit while he was turning to his right side to to look rearward toback down the drive way. The driveway curves slightly to camera left so it might require the victim/driver to turn his head more to the right to see the curve.

    It is not conclusive either way, having not much info to look here. But it doesn’t support, in my opinion, the defendant’s view that he was firing on a vehicle that was driving at him.

    My gut feeling on this, and it is just an opinion, is the defendant might have been more of the mindset “nobody is going to rob my house” and took an aggresssive posturing to what he might have truly perceived as being a threat but it went way too far. I do belive the folks in the car were trying to get out of there after the warning shot and to me it was likely the defendant was not “going to let them get away with it.” He then got caught up in the moment and his emotions got the best of his thinking.

    I’m not trying to minimize the death of this man by saying this, because in my view his death is more tragic than the attention giving to the man who murdered him but for others to take something away from this incident it is another example of going to an extreme measure blindly and not thinking, whereas if one kept a level head and didn’t put themselves into a stupid situation, none of this would have happened.

    The charges have merit in my view.

  8. I did not send any holy warriors any where. it was changed. it originally said that they would take it upon themselves, and people like, to include the lending institutions would use MY name to prosper and that there would be a great deal of fraud because nobody would listen to GOD. and that MY church ( not yours ) would struggle for a thousand years to get started because all religions have denied GOD. recall the last presidential election when churches said that I am a republican, and used it to get elected. so who is bearing false witness and say, and I quote that you are to listen to GOD. and that fraud would be everywhere.

    although I explained how that was to be figured out it was censored. now the antichrist has control over GOD as written on a different site. it was censored so now you have less of the story, while every one wants to make themselves known to GOD they are the ones that it is written about that they will deny everything and try to place it the PROPHET that GOD sent to save the world. there are books that the vatican refuses to make known because they claim it will give out to much information about GOD.

    There is a very good reason that it is written that the world will think that God turned his back on the world, and that the PROPHET WILL BE CALLED A LIAR.

  9. I wonder if “God Was On His Side” like God is purported to be when our nation, on a mission, sends our holy warriors to do something like that?

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