Georgia Man Shoots and Kills Driver Who Mistakenly Pulled Into His Driveway . . . Allowed To Plead To A Single Misdemeanor With No Jail Time and A $500 Fine

Sailorslilburn-victimThere is a surprising plea deal in Georgia this week where Philip Sailors, 69, (left) was accused of responding to Rodrigo Diaz (right) pulling into his driveway by mistake by shooting him in the head and killing him. Sailors has now been allowed to plead out on a single misdemeanor for involuntary manslaughter with no jail time. He was facing a murder charge. Under the plea bargain, Sailors will serve 12-months’ probation and pay a $500 fine. What is equally striking is that Sailors declined to say a word of apology to the family of Diaz when he appeared in court to accept the plea bargain of lifetime. We previously discussed this case.

Diaz appears to have pulled into the wrong driveway while following a mistaken GPS in January 2013. He was trying to find the driveway of his friend across the street to go roller-skating. When Sailors saw a strange car, he came out shooting: firing once in the air and once through the windshield of the car. The second round struck Diaz in the head.

There was evidence that Diaz was pulling out of the driveway when Sailor killed him.

What is also astonishing is that District Attorney Danny Porter said the family agreed with the plea deal. He said that “[t]hey are not in a position where they want to have Mr. Sailors sent to prison for the rest of his life.” OK, but where is the state in this emotive “position” on a person killing someone without cause and not going to prison? Porter said that the only thing that the family wanted was to make clear that Diaz “was not engaged in any unlawful activity, was not engaged in anything even improper.”

It is true that the victim’s father Rodrigo Diaz Senior is quoted as saying that he did not want to destroy two families. Yet, Sailor did not even offer an apology in the courtroom or even address the family. The father asked him why he was using a special type of ammunition that was more damaging on impact. He got no answer. Sailor stayed silent and just walked out.

The family did sue Sailors and there was a settlement. It is not clear if that settlement influenced the family’s position on sentencing.

According to news reports, Sailors is a retired BellSouth employee and active church member who has traveled internationally on missions.

As discussed earlier, the state law protecting homeowners in the use of lethal force may have weighed heavily on the prosecutor. 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 defense 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.

The decision to charge “malice murder” is interesting since it requires a higher level of intent of scienter. However, in the use of the Castle Doctrine defense, Sailors had to still show a reasonable belief of danger. Here the evidence suggested that Diaz was pulling back though his lawyer suggested that he was initially in fear of being run over.

 

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Source: WSBTV

Kudos: Michael Blott

40 thoughts on “Georgia Man Shoots and Kills Driver Who Mistakenly Pulled Into His Driveway . . . Allowed To Plead To A Single Misdemeanor With No Jail Time and A $500 Fine

  1. So tell me Issac, exactly how does this have any bearing on the conversation. The firearm here was legally owned, being transported in a safe manner by a person who was highly trained in both the use of a firearm and the law. I’m sorry to say, but you are comparing apples to oranges.

  2. Another log on the fire.

    Victoria judge says he’s astonished by careless attitude in U.S. toward guns
    LOUISE DICKSON / TIMES COLONIST
    NOVEMBER 22, 2014 10:09 PM

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    The Victoria Courthouse. Photograph By LYLE STAFFORD, Times Colonist
    A Victoria provincial court judge has told an American lawyer in training he is astonished by the careless attitude he and many of his countrymen have toward firearms.

    Judge Wayne Smith made the remark at the sentencing hearing last week of Gabor Falvy, who pleaded guilty to smuggling a handgun into Canada after border officials in Sidney found a gun in his trunk last month.

    “You’ve got a firearm casually lying in the trunk of your vehicle,” Smith said. “That’s the difference between our perception of firearms and the American perception. It’s amazing.

    “It would seem to me that anyone who was transporting such an object would want to put it in a secure location as soon as possible.”

    Smith ordered Falvy to make a $1,000 donation to Our Place Society, which serves Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens, by April 15. Falvy will be granted a conditional discharge after he completes a period of probation.

    The 43-year-old former deputy sheriff and U.S. army reserve officer, who earned three purple hearts in Iraq, was arrested Oct. 19 after arriving in Sidney on a Washington state ferry, prosecutor Jill Vivian told the court.

    Canadian border officers became suspicious when Falvy, who was driving a 2011 Corvette with California plates, told them he had recently moved to Bellingham. An officer asked him if he had any firearms. Falvy said no.

    Falvy was referred for a secondary search, Vivian said, and he and his girlfriend got out of the car. When the officer began opening the trunk, Falvy told him there was a gun inside.

    Falvy was in lawful possession of the gun, which was poorly maintained but usable. However, there was no ammunition in the car, said Vivian, who asked Smith to impose a $5,000 fine.

    Defence lawyer Bob Jones said Falvy could not afford $5,000.

    While waiting for admission to the California bar, Falvy is making $15 an hour working as a legal advocate for a domestic-violence program in Snohomish County, Jones said. After his arrest, he spent 32 hours in custody and paid $1,000 to get his car out of impound.

    “The problem is, when a U.S. citizen is entitled to carry a weapon and does so lawfully in the U.S. and decides to come up to Canada, things are overlooked,” Jones said. “But he did recall just before the car was searched that he had a weapon and he did tell the customs officer.”

    Falvy explained that when he moved from California to Bellingham in August, he put everything he owned in the car and just left the gun there.

    In the end, Smith accepted that Falvy had simply forgotten the firearm. “I have no hesitation in concluding that you have served your country well in many, many respects,” Smith said. “You are now performing a service with your legal education. That is impressive. … This aberrant behaviour is not likely to recur.”

    – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-judge-says-he-s-astonished-by-careless-attitude-in-u-s-toward-guns-1.1617291#sthash.wnymbtCf.dpuf

  3. To all of you negatively commenting about Southerners and white people, you yourselves are showing that you are the prejudiced bigots. Think about it. And stay out of our driveways.

  4. IMHO there is no doubt that if the ethnicities were reversed Mr. Diaz would be facing 20 to life in prison.

  5. I really don’t understand how the statute applies in this case. No entry was made or attempted into the home. Does the statute also apply to the curtilage? I can’t believe the legislature intended it thus. Then again, I’m not an attorney, just an educated citizen.

  6. Wow. Is it possible for people to analyze a homicide apart from racial motivations?. I have little doubt the killer should not be trusted with a gun. It seems to me that the race of the victim had nothing to do with this incident.

  7. Nick – being independent is only cool if you’re an urban farmer with organic chickens, and a front yard garden.

    For some reason, the exact same behavior becomes hick, uncool, and associated with unintelligent people when it takes place in a rural area.

    It’s an interesting phenomena I’ve observed.

  8. In my view the judge should not have allowed this plea deal.

    I also do not see this as the castle doctrine as being applicable because the actions were not reasonable by any measure. The fact that he was burglarized previously was not a permit to engage in shooting of others who were merely in a homeowner’s driveway. Someone in the driveway could have been engaging in a lawful purpose and that had not been determined otherwise at the time of the shooting.

    Another is the state law on making involuntary manslaughter a misdemeanor case. The fact this is a misdemeanor and not a felony needs a change in legislation.

  9. We have 2 pioneer women in our midst! Where you live, and what you do for a living, IF ANYTHING, determines your politics more than anything else.

  10. DBQ – We use those clusters of locked mail boxes, too. Funny, because FedEx and UPS deliver packages to us, but our federal postal system will not because we live on a dirt road.

  11. @ Karen

    Up until about 10 years ago we didn’t even HAVE addresses. When they assigned addresses no one could remember what they were because they were of no real use. The post office doesn’t even deliver mail to many areas and we are required to have PO Boxes. In other more remote areas they have those cluster boxes.

    Stealing of tools, equipment, quad-runners, chainsaws, generators, GUNS and other items has really been on the rise lately. Again….it is the catch and release policy of the State and County. It is a revolving door at the jail. NO consequences for repeat offenders. Just turn ’em loose on the citizens.

    One of our friends was driving home and saw his Kubota tractor and some other items being hauled the opposite way down the road. He turned around and followed, called 911 and gave them the license plate number of the truck and trailer hauling his stuff and where they were going. 911 told him to stop following. That there wouldn’t be anyone available for at least 30 minutes to respond. Other than trying to run the thieves off of the road and get into a gun battle, his only choice was to just go home and wait for the sheriff. When he got home, his old truck was gone too. The cops showed up in 2 hours to take a report. Oooooh ahhhhhh!.

    GPS doesn’t work in our area either. We often find people/tourists hopelessly lost in the middle of the area because they were following their GPS instead of having a road map or Forest Service map.

    So…yes….we are armed and have to protect OURSELVES. People in the cities have no idea……well…..maybe those people in Detroit and Chicago have the gist of what it is. Law and order….what a joke.

  12. DBQ – it’s funny that you say that. We live in a rural area, too, with lots of unmarked dirt roads. Plus people with tractors make their own road cuts. It can take police a while to find an address. Home invasions are rare, likely because most people out here own firearms, but it’s quite common for people to sneak onto properties to siphon gas or steal expensive tools.

    It’s also common for people from out of the area to get hopelessly lost. I keep a map of the community in my car, and usually use it to direct people about once a week.

  13. People don’t need to get paranoid. I have knocked on doors @ least 10k times as a PI. Sometimes people who didn’t want to see me. I have been shot @ twice, but both times I was on a public street, in my vehicle. I did have a dog sent @ me when I was serving papers severing a mother’s parental rights, always the nastiest type case. Reggie bars in my jacket pocket saved my fat, white, ass!

  14. This plea deal makes little sense. Must be, at least or hope there is, more info. that we aren’t seeing. If not, then our society

    Either way, maybe I shouldn’t be taking the occasional mail delivered incorrectly to other peoples homes. And definitely have to be more careful with my daughter selling girl scout cookies.

    I wonder if the same plea deal would be reached if the “trespasser” was handing out Christian bibles or the Watchtower?

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