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Grand Jury Clears Texan in the Killing of 2 Burglars

Published: July 1, 2008

HOUSTON — A grand jury on Monday refused to indict a 62-year-old man who fatally shot two burglars last November as they fled his neighbor’s house.

In a case that raised questions of ethnic bias, self-defense and property rights, the jury rejected charges against the man, Joe Horn, who is white. Both victims were illegal immigrants from Colombia.

“Joe is not some wild cowboy,” Mr. Horn’s lawyer, Charles T. Lambright, said at a news conference on Monday. “He was put in a place where he didn’t have any other choice.”

But others reacted angrily to the decision. “There is not a snowflake’s chance in hell that an African-American man could do what Joe Horn did and get away with it,” said Quanell X, a local black activist. “The message that Harris County sent to the entire world is that Houston, Tex., is God’s city. There is no longer a need for the criminal justice system, police, judge or jury. You can be all of that on your own.”

Mr. Horn, a retired computer manager who testified before the grand jury, called 911 on Nov. 14, saying two men were burglarizing his neighbor’s house in Pasadena, a Houston suburb. He described the men as black.

“I’m not going to let them get away with it,” he told the emergency operator. “I’m going to shoot.” He added, “I’m going to kill them.”

The operator repeatedly told Mr. Horn not to shoot, and the police had just arrived at the scene when Mr. Horn fired three blasts of 00 buckshot from his 12-gauge, striking the men in their backs.

The men — Hernando Riascos Torres, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30 — ran short distances before collapsing and dying, leaving behind a tire iron used to break a window and a pillowcase holding jewelry and about $2,000 from the neighbors.

Many questions went unanswered, including the events that transpired before Mr. Horn told the operator, “I had no choice,” adding, “Man, they came running in my yard.”

The Texas Penal Code allows the use of deadly force if the “actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary.” Deadly force can also be used to protect property when “the other is fleeing immediately after committing burglary.”

One lawyer, while endorsing the grand jury’s decision, raised questions about the process.

“I wonder if Joe Horn were black if he would be free tonight or in the Harris County Jail,” said the lawyer, Joseph Gutheinz Jr., of the National Republican Lawyers Association. “It’s a sea of white faces that doesn’t look anything like the county,” Mr. Gutheinz said.

In a news release, District Attorney Kenneth Magidson of Harris County said the grand jury had “conducted a thorough review of the evidence and testimony” and noted that every case involving deadly force “stands or falls on its own particular facts.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/us/01texas.html
 

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I wish I had neighbors like this guy, and the same law Texas has about protecting property. How's that for deterrence.
 

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Sounds like a reasonable situation.
 

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:? :? :? good for him

i dont think it should be a question of race
black white green or blue, a thief is a thief
 

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Good for him. Justice is blind, so skin color is not an issue. Dirtbag are dirtbags, they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Those that are trying to make this a race issue are missing the point that they were shot while commiting a felony. Hell he just saved the tax payer $80,000 a year to imprison the two of them. I'd buy him a beer.
 

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How long do you think it will be before ANYONE on Mr. Horns street gets robbed again?
This is one of the laws that I wish my home state would adopt. In principal, I don't agree that property is worth a human life, but by the same token, I feel that I should be allowed to use deadly force to protect it. (Double standard? - Maybe)
Secondly, Joe saved this country more than any $80K/yr! These two were both illegal aliens, who most of the time, are recieving free social security benefits, free medical care and working tax free on top of that. Never mind the deterrant to future crimes.
Issues of race shouldn't even enter into this discussion. He called to report two thieves next door, not two Hispanics. (In fact if you listen to the 911 call, he reported that they were Black)
If given the chance, I would slap this man on the back and buy him a beer!

My hats off to you Mr. Horn!
 

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I had heard the audio of this and I am so happy that he was not charged. Especially since there was a cop present and he wasn't arresting the two thiefs insted he choose to sit there and just watch what happened. I personally think that if the cop had done his job the thiefs would be in jail insted of being sent to the morge.

One other thing. There was an undercover cop present but the article does not say anything about that. The people being robbed were immigrants from Asia and that is the reason they were being robbed because they knew they would be less likely to have a gun. But they did not think about the people next door. I hate when the news is lacking all the correct information. Thank you Glen Beck......
 
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