“I’m Glad this is on Video, I’m Very Glad:” Texas Shooting Raises Difficult Questions Under Texas Self-Defense Law

Chad Read’s widow files petition to take custody of his children from their mother, releases...

Carruth is a land developer and the house may be both his home and his office. Read’s widow, Jennifer, alleges that he and Christina Read plan to get married once his divorce is finalized (The widow is seeking custody of her two step sons and saying that the relationship is harmful to the boys since they know that Carruth shot by their father when he was trying to see them).

The videotapes show Carruth ordering Read off his property as Read demands to see his son. Chad Read can be heard saying “I don’t care if you wanted to see him or not. I get him at 3:15 p.m. If you want to see him, you see him up until 3:15. You keep trying to keep my son from me.” He then threatens to subpoena multiple people, including Judge Carruth.

As the couple argues about the court order, Carruth goes back into the house and retrieves his rifle. That is when things rapidly escalate.

Carruth can be said “I’m glad this is on video, I’m very glad.”

Carruth keeps the gun pointed at the ground as the two men bump chests and Read dares him to use the weapon.

Read says “Do it. You better f*cking use it, motherf*cker.”

Carruth then fired a shot at the ground near Read’s feet, and Read grabbed the barrel of the rifle and pushed away. Carruth then moved back a few steps and immediately fired twice at Read who collapses in front of the house. Just before he is fatally shot, Read can be heard saying “Think I’m f*cking scared?”

Immediately after her husband is shot, Jennifer Read remains remarkably focused assigning responsibility as opposed to Chad Read who is now lying dead in front of the house. She is heard saying “You did it, not him.”

Kyle responds, telling her “I told all of y’all to leave. None of you all should be here. I asked you to leave. I did everything … I did not want to do any of this.”

There are two videos in evidence: one taken from the house and one taken from the truck by the current wife of Chad Read.

Carruth from House Video

Carruth from Truck Video

As a threshold matter, it does seem like this tragedy could have been avoided if Carruth had just called police and not escalated the encounter. Read was unarmed and has no criminal record. He remained six feet from his ex-wife during their altercation.

Yet, the question is not what Carruth “should” have done but what he is legally required to do.

The common law protects not just self-defense but mistaken self-defense where a person may have erroneously (but reasonably) thought that he was under attack. The common law has always recognized the right to stand your ground and did not require a person to retreat before using force.

The Texas  SYG law states in part:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

Under this law, Carruth is not required to retreat or avoid the confrontation, but still must show a reasonable belief that deadly force is immediately necessary. Carruth is likely to argue that, when Read grabbed his weapon, he was acting to stop the “attempted use of unlawful deadly force.”  He will use Read’s threat that “You better f*cking use it, motherf*cker” as further supporting his view that he was being threatened.

However, those words are commonly used in anger and could be viewed as standard bravado or defiance to the threat presented by Carruth. While the videos are not entirely clear, it does not appear that, after pushing him away, Read was charging or moving toward Carruth. Carruth still was the only person with a weapon at the scene.

Read notably kept his arms rigidly by his side through much of the encounter. The chest bump could be cited by Carruth as assault or, at least, a physical escalation justifying his firing of a warning shot.

In addition to a claim that he was acting in self-defense (§ 9.31. Self-defense) or defense of others (§ 9.33. Defense of third person), Carruth could raise a claim under the Texas Castle doctrine.

Under Texas Penal Code § 9.31, a person is allowed to use deadly force in their homes to repel intruders.  The law requires that the use of force is “reasonable.” However, it is reasonable if there is unlawful and forceful entry or attempted entry. It can also be based on an attempt to remove the actor from the home. Moreover, he could claim that Read was attempting to take his weapon (though Read’s estate can claim that this was an act of self-defense).

The use of the Castle doctrine would be based on the claim that the struggle, while not in the home, was within the “curtilage,” the area immediately around a home. The curtilage is often discussed in search and seizure cases under the Fourth Amendment. The area of the struggle would be within that area. However, Carruth then drops back from the front of the door and a court may have to decide if position of the shooting was within the curtilage. Again, it is likely within that area.

Nevertheless, there are other possible problems in applying the law. To use the law, you must show that you did not “provoke the person against whom the force was used.” Carruth can claim (correctly) that he has every right to brandish a weapon, even if many of us believe it was ill-advised and provocative. It was Read who approached him. Yet, it was Carruth who first fired a shot at Read’s feet — triggering the response from Read. This can be the ultimate jury question.

Moreover, the law expressly says that it is not to be used for “verbal provocations.” The encounter with Read (before Carruth pulled out a gun) was a purely verbal provocation. However, it then escalated. Again, Carruth had a right to brandish his weapon. When Read grabbed the gun, it was no longer a verbal confrontation.

This is not an open-and-shut case but Carruth has cognizable defense claims. I say that even though I have little sympathy for him. I do not see the need to use lethal force in this circumstance. He had separation and he had the gun. He could have waited. Instead, he immediately fired the rounds. Indeed, I do believe that he escalated the situation unnecessarily and that this death could have been avoided by simply waiting for the police. Moreover, his relationship with the ex-wife creates concerns over his motivation in using force. That is similar to a prior case we discussed where a Montana man was accused of luring the enraged lover of his wife into a garage and then shooting him. (He was cleared under the state Castle doctrine law).

Castle doctrine cases often raise concerns over enabling the wrong people; empowering those who are predisposed to the use of force as in the infamous case of Tom Horn in Texas.

On all of these different defenses, Carruth will argue that he was fully within his rights in coming outside of his house and demanding that Read get off his property. He did not point the weapon at Read until the physical struggle. The question then becomes that, once he gains separation, was it justified to fire the two rounds killing Read. That will have to be based on the fear that Read was intent on disarming him and taking his weapon.

There is still no decision on whether Carruth will face charges. There is already a civil lawsuit filed by the widow of Read.

Here is the Castle doctrine law;

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.  The actor’s belief that the force was immediately necessary as described by this subsection is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;  or

(C) was committing or attempting to commit aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery;

(2) did not provoke the person against whom the force was used;  and

(3) was not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic at the time the force was used.

(b) The use of force against another is not justified:

(1) in response to verbal provocation alone;

(2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);

(3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;

(4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

(A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter;  and

(B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor;  or

(5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:

(A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02 ;  or

(B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05 .

(c) The use of force to resist an arrest or search is justified:

(1) if, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search;  and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.

(d) The use of deadly force is not justified under this subchapter except as provided in Sections 9.32 , 9.33 , and 9.34 .

(e) A person who has a right to be present at the location where the force is used, who has not provoked the person against whom the force is used, and who is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used is not required to retreat before using force as described by this section.

(f) For purposes of Subsection (a), in determining whether an actor described by Subsection (e) reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary, a finder of fact may not consider whether the actor failed to retreat.

 

 

 

127 thoughts on ““I’m Glad this is on Video, I’m Very Glad:” Texas Shooting Raises Difficult Questions Under Texas Self-Defense Law”

  1. Read had no criminal record!!?? Read has a federal felony conviction, two state domestic violence convictions, a DUI conviction, and a public drunk conviction. LOL, no criminal record my ass.

      1. The fact that you failed to do even a cursory criminal history check, or was unable to find a criminal history that is so readily available to anyone with a PC and Google before declaring that Read had “no criminal record”, makes me question everything else you have written here. If you screw up something so basic, how can anyone trust you to get the hard stuff right?

  2. There will surely be debates about what the law is for a while to come. But there can be no debate about one thing: That killer did not act defensively. He killed his victim maliciously.

  3. Darren, many others, & I would add to it, If any situation one finds themselves in starts turning violent it’s also advisable to Fast attempt to diffuse the situation & retreat if need be. Only use force if it’s called for.

    JT presented details of this case out of Lubbock Tx & from what I’ve seen of it was at least 4 to 6 people that seem to all be running for the number #1 Darwin award winner of 2021.

    One of them is now dead & they all lost as far as I can see.

    Everything happened within a couple of minutes. That Fast.

    Anyway P Turley did pretty good job of throwing together his comments.

    To add to that here below is a link I viewed last night of attorneys Viva Feir & Robert Barnes interviewing an attorney that’s made his career as an expert(?) in self defence cases across the US.

    Even though he said he was from the East Coast, NYC, I tried to set that aside best I could, yet I feel I & some might learn something from the 2hr interview if we ever confront one or more confrontations in life.

    ( And if your wife is telling you she’s going to kill, but she’s Serbian, no concern she’s just making sexual advances towards you. LOL, according to a poster in the comment section.)

    *******

    Sidebar with Law of Self-Defense Attorney Andrew Branca – Viva & Barnes LIVE
    54,047 views
    Streamed live on Dec 1, 2021

    1. It was well known that Al Capone had a reputation of being overly friendly with the media. During one such Q&A Capone was asked if he’d ever killed anyone: His answer is quite revealing: “I never killed nobody that didn’t need killin.”

  4. Could disparity of force be used as a self-defense reason for shooting the man? The man shot was considerably larger physically than the man doing the shooting.

  5. Under Texas Penal code Carruth appears to have committed a felon by interfering with child custody and denying Read access to his son. Read by trying to get his son lawfully most likely nullifies any “trespass” arguments. Carruth’s house in this situation isn’t a church in “Highlander” where he can retreat and be immune from attack.

    https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/penal-code/penal-sect-25-03.html

    Carruth brought a gun to his own felonious actions. It can even be argued that Read might have been in fear for his children to be around someone reacting so violently and was trying to protect them. Unfortunately we can’t ask him for his state of mind at the time.

  6. “The question then becomes that, once he gains separation, was it justified to fire the two rounds killing Read. That will have to be based on the fear that Read was intent on disarming him and taking his weapon.”

    Specifically, whether that fear was reasonable. If it was, then Carruth has perfect self defense and is innocent. If not, then the next question is whether the Carruth’s fear was genuine so he was acting under imperfect self defense. If so, then manslaughter. If not, then murder.

    These are the only real significant questions of fact, and they should put before a Jury.

  7. Read had the rights to protect his son @ 3:15 PM, Father had legal rights to visit, and child custody rights, and that includes to protect from abuse or kidnaping. It looks like forced kidnapping and murder. I think the ex-wife kept abusing the fathers’ rights by not having his son on time.

  8. Not that simple George.

    He’s not a trespasser.

    Something that Turley said makes this a case that should go to trial.

    However, those words are commonly used in anger and could be viewed as standard bravado or defiance to the threat presented by Carruth. While the videos are not entirely clear, it does not appear that, after pushing him away, Read was charging or moving toward Carruth. Carruth still was the only person with a weapon at the scene.

    -=-
    Once distance was achieved. Read wasn’t a threat.
    Also if Read’s visitation was being violated. Then Carruth could be considered a kidnapper. ;-P (This may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

    1. Not that simple George.

      He’s not a trespasser.

      Sure, he’s a trespasser.
      He refused to leave private property, when ordered to do so.

      Maybe you can get into Black’s law Dictionary and find a different definition, but I can’t.

      1. The Father had the rights to protect his son @ 3:15 PM, Father had legal rights to visit, and child custody rights, and that includes to protect from abuse or kidnaping.

        1. Father had legal rights to visit, and

          Visit. Not to refuse to leave. At that moment, he is a trespasser

          We just had a trial that seemed to settle the notion of vigilante justice. That trial concerned criminal acts. Now we are speaking of civil judgements. Something that an officer of the law could not enforce without the proper paperwork.

    2. So stipulated: The trespasser was not a threat…until he was.
      ________________________________________________

      “If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.”

      – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
      ____________________

      “He who hesitates is lost.”

      – Cato
      _____

      “There are two kinds of bayonet fighters: The quick and the dead.”

      – Drill Sargent
      ___________

      “He’s not a trespasser” – citation please.

  9. Man Rules:

    Rule 1: Don’t get into a heated argument with a man holding a rifle;
    Rule 2: If you violate Rule 2, be sure you are likewise are armed;
    Rule 3: If you violate Rules 1 & 2, do not question the bravery of the man holding the rifle;
    Rule 4: If you violate Rules 1-3 then make sure your will in solid and your funeral arrangements are complete.

  10. This story reminds me of a cartoon. A mouse stands defiantly with his middle finger raised in the air as an eagle comes swooping in for the kill. We may admire the bravery of the mouse but we still see his rebellion as very stupid. Arguing with a man with a rifle is just as stupid. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape you don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask on the old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess with a guy with a loaded rifle. While I’m borrowing words of wisdom “stupid is as stupid does.”

  11. The criminal trespasser, during his commission of the crime of trespass, criminally assaulted and battered the property owner (or his agent) while attempting to criminally gain possession of the property owner’s firearm.

    The criminal trespasser clearly exhibited an intent to criminally gain possession of and discharge the firearm against the property owner.

    The property owner was provided and obtained no alternative course of action but to defend himself, his family/friends/principal and property.

    Justifiable homicide.

  12. If Read was correct, and he had visitation after 3:15, then he was right. Yet he was still foolish to get into the face and chest bump with an armed homeowner threatening to shoot him unless he left.

    People can be right, and still make foolish choices.

    Carruth may, or may not, have been legally entitled to shoot Read after he grabbed his gun and threatened him. Even if he was right, it was a foolish decision to escalate this to violence, especially with the man’s children inside.

    Both men thought they were right, and that righteousness led them both to do very stupid things. There was a better way to handle this.

    I don’t know about the legality of the matter, but I believe both men did wrong, and I would never have shot in that circumstance.

    My question is, why wouldn’t they turn the kids over to Read? Was there some threat? Some urgency? Or was this the old story of two exes playing tug of war with their children? Exes should make tremendous effort to be cordial and coparent well. Neither should interfere with a responsible, loving parent spending time with their kids.

  13. Tragic.

    1. Comply with court ordered visitation. If the father gets the kids at 3:15, and he’s there, then he gets his kids. Read had a point.
    2. If your ex won’t send your kid(s) out, then call the cops, and wait in your car at the curb. Then do the I Told You So Dance when the cops give you the kids. Read instead got into an altercation and escalated.
    3. Domestic disputes can turn violent. Do not throw gasoline on a candle flame. Your kids can hear you fighting. Go wait in the car for the cops.
    4. Carruth should have called his wife to enter the house, remained there with her, and waited for the cops to come settle this.
    4. Once Carruth exited the house, with a firearm, and told Read to leave the property, Read should have promptly left the property. Don’t argue. Don’t say another word. Drive to a safe place and wait for the police. See item #3.
    5. Once Carruth fired a warning shot into the ground by Read’s feet, he should have left, immediately. It was rapidly escalating. Instead, Read bumped chests with Carruth, daring him to shoot him. Then he grabbed at the gun. The result was inevitable.

    The loser in all this is the kids. Their Dad wanted to see them, Mom interfered, Dad handled it poorly, and now he’s dead. There is no fixing that.

    Step mother has no rights to those kids.

    Carruth and Read both escalated this confrontation. All they had to do was comply with the visitation agreement. They should never have argued where the kids could hear them, anyway. It was really stupid for Read to keep pushing like that once the homeowner got a firearm. At that point, it’s trespassing, and you’re in danger. Time for cops.

    I don’t know any of these people involved. I don’t know if Read was a good guy and a good father, or not. I don’t know if the self defense will stand. Although he had an exit behind him into the house, his girlfriend was outside.

    This is exactly why social workers have no business handling domestic disputes on their own.

    1. This might be one of those cases where Carruth was legally entitled to shoot, but I still think it was uncalled for. Testosterone poisoning in both of them.

      Poor kids.

      1. Karen, I don’t always agree with your position on things, but in this case, you are absolutely correct.
        A brief heated argument handled the wrong way by both parties ended up with children’s lives being changed forever.

    2. > Then do the I Told You So Dance when the cops give you the kids.

      the cops will not come.
      if the cops come, the cops will not give you the kids, they will tell you to go to court.

  14. that is murder. he went to get a gun…when no violence was occurring. They could just have ignored the guy! You can see the post MURDER response…was he GLAD TO MURDER in COLD BLOOD!
    So if I don’t like trick or treators I can just SHOOT THEM?

    1. Agreed – this is simply two super heated guys arguing and no threat that I could see or hear was ever made by the victim towards the man with the gun. A tragic case of emotion ruling the day.

      1. no threat that I could see or hear was ever made by the victim towards the man with the gun.

        Read Chest bumped him, that’s assault. Read attempted to take a weapon away from Crutthers That’s assault.

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