In rare event, user of deadly defensive force not charged and prosecuted.
It has long been standard prosecutorial practice in Massachusetts to put any use of deadly force in claimed self-defense in front of a jury. The attitude of prosecutors is that it might have been lawful self-defense, but it might not have been, so they’re going to make you prove it to a jury before they’ll cut you loose.
Of course, with a trial defense of a murder (or similar) charge easily running into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, this policy has the effect of “making the process the punishment.” Even if acquitted, one’s life is largely destroyed economically, and likely emotionally.
Even here in the Commonwealth, however, there is the occasional act of self-defense that is so obviously justified that the authorities are simply unwilling to present it to a jury as legitimate grounds for long-term incarceration.
Once such case occurred last week in Springfield MA, a town I personally would never visit unless armed, hence my very rare visits–and then only to go to the Smith & Wesson facility still located there. Indeed, it was such an open-and-shut case of lawful self-defense, even by Massachusetts standards, that the police announced within hours that they did not intend to bring charges against the defender.
WSHM news out of Springfield reports that brothers Jordan and Jason Eady began ringing the doorbell and kicking the door of a local residence shortly after midnight.
When these actions failed to gain them entrance, they threatened to “light up the house,” and then kicked in the front door. Confronting the homeowner, they refused to leave.
The homeowner convinced them of the prudence of departing by shooting at them, striking one of the brothers in the chest. Fleeing the scene, the brothers were promptly arrested by arriving officers.
So, what are the facts of this shooting that contributed to the authorities electing to not bring charges?
Already mentioned, of course, is that this was a home invasion of genuine intruders. Even in MA, that’s a tough case to put before a jury and expect to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
In addition, the defender was a woman. Another favorable building block for a compelling narrative of innocence on the part of the defensive shooter.
Furthermore, the woman was at home with her three-year-old child. Yep, that’s going to be a tough sell.
And, to put the icing on the cake, the woman possessed a valid MA license to carry a firearm.
Even in Massachusetts, under these facts it took the police less than 10 hours to conclude that charges would not be brought against the homeowner in this case.
Of course, had almost any of those facts varied, the outcome could well have been far different. For example:
Had the homeowner and intruders been known to each other.
Had the homeowner been a male (particularly as the Eady brothers were apparently unarmed).
Had the homeowner not possessed a firearms license (which is required under MA even for possession of a gun in one’s home).
Fortunately, in this instance the defender was not walked out of their home in handcuffs. Instead, it was the Eady brothers who were charged with armed burglary, threat to murder, and defacement of real property.
NOTE: Featured image courtesy of Glock’s “Wrong House” video:
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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.DONATE
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