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Fatal shooting raises two prominent domestic violence defenses

| Jul 9, 2021 | Assault, Battery And Domestic Violence |

A person charged with domestic violence has a number of available defenses even if the events of the alleged crime are essentially undisputed. A recent shooting in the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston may implicate the self-defense rule or the so-called Castle Doctrine, or both.

The incident

Officers from the Houston Police Department responded to the report of a shooting on Larchmont Road just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday. When the officers arrived, they found a middle-aged man who had been shot in the torso. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The woman who allegedly fired the fatal shot told police that the deceased had been staying at her home and that he had been acting aggressively over the past few days. The woman said that the man was “the friend of a friend” and that she was trying to do him a favor by allowing him to stay in her home for a few days. The woman said that the man’s behavior had become increasingly hostile over the last few days and that she told him to move out and never return on Wednesday evening. At about 11 p.m., the man showed up on her door step and refused to move. He then tried to force his way into the home. The woman described the man as extremely aggressive and extremely agitated. The woman shot the man as he stood in her doorway.

What will happen to the shooter?

After the wounded man was removed from the premises, police questioned the woman extensively. She was not arrested or charged, and by Thursday morning, she appeared to have returned to her ordinary daily routine. The police will turn over the results of their investigation to a Harris County grand jury.

The grand jury could refuse to return an indictment, or it could indict the woman on one or more manslaughter or murder charges. If she were to be indicted, the woman could claim that was acting out of self-defense, or than she was defending her home against an intruder (the so-called Castle Doctrine). Anyone facing similar charges may benefit from retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide an evaluation of the evidence, suggest various legal defenses, and provide an estimate of the likelihood of a conviction or acquittal.