There is a verdict in Colorado where Green Beret Michael Joseph Galvin shot and killed Robert Carrigan after Carrigan broke into his garage. Carrigan was shot three times in the back. The case raised a threshold question of whether the state’s “Make My Day” law applied to a shooting in a garage detached by the home of the shooter. A jury clearly believed that it did and acquitted Galvin from the charge of negligent homicide.
Galvin, 35, is a Fort Carson as a communications sergeant and Arabic language expert who has served in the Army Special Forces for 12 years.
The Colorado law, CRS 18-1-704, states:
The affirmative defense of self-defense is found in section 18-1-704 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
That statute states, in pertinent part, as follows:
(1) … a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.
(2) Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:
(a) The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury….
Prosecutors charged that the garage was not covered by the law because the break in was not within his domicile and that he did not fear for his life to justify the shooting of the unarmed man in the back.
We have previously discussed Castle Doctrine laws or “make my day” laws, including other cases involving garage shootings or shootings off the property of the homeowner. This includes the Montana case of Brice Harper, 24, gunned down Dan Fredenberg, 40, in his garage. Fredenberg, 40, was coming over to confront Harper about having an affair with his wife, Heather Fredenberg. Harper cut the encounter short by shooting him dead and a prosecutor declared that the shooting cannot be prosecuted given the state’s Castle doctrine or “Make My Day” law.
In this case, the jury clearly did not view the nuances of the location or the question over the level of threat to be determinative. While the law contains critical limitations on the use of the doctrine, the jury clearly viewed the purpose of the law as giving license for the use of lethal force for any break into a home (or in this case, a garage near a home).