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.



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. Colombians have a wide range of coloring. Most are mestizo, like the victim in this case. But, there are black Colombians, mostly from the Pacific coast area. Colombia is the only South American country w/ Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera are 2 Colombians who had very good MLB careers. Renteria is black, Cabrera mestizo.

  2. That is Colombia, not Columbia,Michaelb. I had to correct THREE of my son’s grammar school teachers on the correct spelling of the country he was born.

  3. Was he looking at his GPS while he pulled into the driveway, so the man thought he was trying to run him over on purpose?

    This plea deal makes no sense on the surface. Either we’re missing more information, or the DA is negligent.

  4. This is the worst plea deal ever.

    If a stranger pulling into your driveway gives you reasonable fear for your life, then we finally have found the solution to end soliciting. And we can cross the Girl Scout Cookie Drive off the list of visitors this year.

    This lame defense does not sound plausible even 100 years ago.

    Did the family already have a settlement, and that influenced this decision? Did they ask for this deal, and the Prosecutor complied, or was it the other way around? Did he have signs of dementia, so they felt sorry for him?

    A similar scenario happened to one of my coworkers. He was caravanning with some people from work, and somehow followed the wrong car. The other driver began frantically trying to evade him, which he thought was his friend playing around. She drove home, pulled into her garage, and shut the door, while he got out in her driveway, laughing. Well, her hulking beast man husband was home, and was most displeased at the hysterical state his wife was in. The light bulb finally went off for my coworker, who scrambled into his car and burned rubber.

  5. Boy, this story really brings out the wacko comments, and a couple of racist ones, too. Brown skin, Carlyle?? The photo of Diaz clearly shows he is white. And “fueled by racism, paranoia, and his entitlement as a white male Southerner” isn’t a bigoted, racist comment?

    An old white man with a gun is automatically the villain according to the very politically correct these days, but there has to be a lot more unknown facts behind this story than will ever be revealed. In general, the media keeps everyone fearful for their lives, particularly the elderly (of all races), by the stories they publish about all the killings, home invasions, and terrorist activities (real or imagined) day after day. Civil suit settlements, payoffs, and other monetary considerations may have had a bearing on the outcome of this, as well as a lot of other things that might have happened in that community, neighborhood, or to Sailor and his wife themselves that led up to this event as a result. On the surface, this case seems like justice was inadequately applied, but that in itself would suggest there were things happening behind the scenes which were never publicized that influenced the circumstances and the outcome. My odds would be on media-caused fear and paranoia being the main motivation, not racial prejudice, and money being the biggest factor in the final sentencing.

  6. The family settled for an undisclosed amount before the criminal sentencing. They were supportive of the sentence, chiefly being concerned that their son was not portrayed as a criminal. ( immigrants from Columbia)

  7. What reasonable person comes out of their house shooting at a car that has pulled into driveway? They don’t.

    That’s right. You wait until they get OUT of the car. You get a better shot that way.

    Semi serious.

    I live in a very rural area. Anyone driving down our driveway at night is there for no good reason, especially since we have a gate on the property that is closed at night….they really don’t belong there. People call first if they are coming by after dark. During the day, if you don’t recognize the car or truck, you do keep your armaments handy. I really don’t want to shoot a Jehovah’s Witness, no matter how annoying they can be.

    There have been too many robberies, even in broad daylight, vandalism, and due to the influx of illegals growing illegal marijuana in the area lots of robberies, meth cookers also out in the forests, the catch and release program for criminals and the growing homeless population. There is no real police or sheriff coverage either. A 911 call is a joke. You might get a response in about 45 minutes.

    You are on your own. Be prepared. Almost everyone is armed.

    1. DBQ – I tell visitors that I take “sound shots.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it means taking shots at the sound rather than actually seeing something. It lets them know that they are in danger at all times. 😉

  8. Maybe they are trying to change the statute by making a so obviously crazy rendition and deal, that the outrage will bubble up back to he legislature?

  9. Works for me – any stranger in my driveway should expect the same reception. Call first. llamar primero.

    And as for demented people – what are you going to do? The president just allowed another 35 million of them to remain here legally.

  10. Just so you know kids, next time you’re in Mr. Diaz’ predicament, duck under the dash and floor it. Best you wreck a nice car whilst taking out the shooter vs. losing your life to a nutjob.

  11. So, Paul, if someone is in your driveway for, what?, 30 seconds, a minute, 2 minutes, then aim the loaded gun in case they exit the vehicle? I have pulled into a driveway to look for a hidden address marker, to deliver magazines and surprise flowers, to look at a map while turning around, Any number of things. To justify killing someone who is in their car because you think they are there too long is remarkable. Almost as remarkable as Sailor being ‘active church member who has traveled internationally on missions.’ God told me to kill him would have been a good a reason as any then.. ….Beware collection agencies, girl scout cookie sales parents, Kirby salespersons, etc…..Make sure you have your hands raised if you have to exit your vehicle, or face the consequences.

    1. Lloyd – Arizona is an open carry state. And you would not spend 2 minutes in someone’s driveway without a good reason and it better be damn good. You want to check your map, that is what Circle K is for. And it has been years since I shot a girl scout. She should have been faster and run in a zig-zag pattern. If she had been a boy scout I would have never hit her.

  12. Does Ga.’s New Gun Law Expand ‘Stand Your Ground’?

    Georgia’s controversial new gun law allows firearms in schools, churches, and bars (with some exceptions). But does it also expand the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense provision?

    What does the new gun law actually say, and how does it affect Georgia’s existing “Stand Your Ground” provision?
    Georgia is one of dozens of states with some form of “Stand Your Ground” law — not requiring victims to retreat before resorting to deadly force in self-defense cases.

  13. “The quality of mercy is not strained.” Portia, Merchant of Venice. The Diaz family personify this famous quote.

    Having seen many plea bargains, I know they are often not understood. But, when you unravel them, they make more sense. For me, this plea bargain makes no sense and I have tried to played out scenarios where it would.

  14. I am sure that the insurance company had their hand up his backside for any comments he made to the family. Do we know how the kid mistakenly pulled into the driveway?
    To the person who said the drive into driveways all the time, I too have done it from time to time, but I would never be there long enough for the home owner to come out with a weapon and take a shot at me. I am also aware that the home owner could do this, so I am in and out of their drive-way as fast as possible.
    This wasn’t just a mistake, it was mistake mistake.

  15. Defending castle was was not a good defense, but one that typical of Southern mentality and a bad DA. This family obviously capitulated, most likely out of fear and a large payoff. Not to offer even an I’m sorry smacks of the red-neck, low-hanging fruit the shooter is.

  16. What reasonable person comes out of their house shooting at a car that has pulled into driveway? They don’t. A reasonable person wouldn’t automatically be in paranoid mode as to be suspect of motive. I’ve pulled into countless stranger’s driveways being lost, g ., and spend virtually little time on that act. I do not linger.

    I would venture this individual floats in the realm fueled by racism, paranoia, and his entitlement as a white male Southerner.

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