There is a tragic case out of Chicopee, Massachusetts where a 15-year-old boy was shot after he appeared to go to the wrong house after a night of drinking. 42-year-old Jeffrey Lovell is accused of shooting through the door and killing teenager Dylan Francisco. Lowell is facing a murder charge.
It is a case reminiscent of the most notorious case involving the shooting of a Japanese student in Baton Rouge. The 16-year-old Japanese exchange student, Yoshihiro Hattori, was looking for a Halloween party and scared the wife of Rodney Peairs when he spoke a strange language and approached the house. Peairs shot him in the chest with a .44 Magnum handgun and was later cleared under a Make My Day law as mistaken defense of his home and self. We also saw a tragic such case involving the killing of a law student last year.
Francisco was trying to find a friend with another teenager after drinking a bit. The similarity of the homes in the neighborhood probably contributed to the confusion. The teenagers knocked on the door and they may have broken a pane of glass on the door.
Lovell is known to pose with various guns and has been a vocal advocate of the Second Amendment.
These cases often raise “Castle doctrine” issues where home owners are allowed to use lethal force in the cases of intruders within their domicile or home. In Massachusetts, you generally must show that you are acting in reasonable self-defense. However, there is an exception under G.L. c. 278, § 8A :
In the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in his dwelling at the time of the offense and that he acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling, and that said occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or such other person lawfully in said dwelling. There shall be no duty on said occupant to retreat from such person unlawfully in said dwelling.
Thus there is no duty to retreat but you must show (1) that he or she reasonably believed that the intruder was unlawfully entering the dwelling, (2) that he or she reasonably believed that the intruder was about to inflict death or serious bodily injury upon the defendant or someone else who is lawfully in the dwelling, and (3) the defendant acted with reasonable means of self-defense or defense of another person who was lawfully present. Here Francisco did not enter the dwelling but may have broken the pane of a window in the door. There is also the question of whether it is reasonable to believe that he was facing either death of serious bodily injury. Again that pane of glass could be key to a defense. Moreover, Lowell says that he first tried to speak with the teenager but fired after the breaking of the glass.
What do you think?
Source: Washington Post