Missouri Castle Doctrine is based on Missouri Revised Statutes 563.031, Use of force in defense of persons.
A castle doctrine is a legal concept that a person’s home or any legally occupied place; a vehicle or workplace, that person has certain protections and immunities permitting him or her, in certain circumstances, to use force up to and including deadly force to defend themselves against an intruder.
The castle doctrine removes the duty to retreat when the victim is assaulted in a place where the victim has a right to be, such as within one’s own home. Deadly force may be considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases “when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to him or herself or another”.
On Sunday, November 29th, a 13-year-old child was killed while trying to steal change from a car. Obviously, all the details are not known, but so far it doesn’t seem as if the three kids, ages 11, 13 and 14 posed any type of danger to the person that shot and killed the 13-year-old.
Over the years, I have had cars stolen and broken into several times. My windows have been broken out at times simply for the change in an ashtray, I’ve had parts stolen from my vehicle including a radio and even my catalytic converter (part of the muffler system). As frustrating and upsetting as those events were, I did not then and still do not consider that theft worth someone’s life.
As a society, we are placing too little value on life and seem to believe that making a bad decision or a very poor choice is an excuse to kill. The kids involved made very stupid choices and they should have known that they were placing themselves in danger by going into someone else’s car, but should we authorize the death penalty for breaking into a car or even car theft.
That child’s death is a tragedy and I would bet that the person if given a second chance, would choose not to pull the trigger. My heart goes out to both the family of the child who died and the 60-year-old man who shot the child. I’m certain he was devastated once he learned he had killed a 13-year-old child.
Hopefully, this situation will make thieves think twice before stealing and make people think before pulling the trigger over property. That vehicle could have been how the man made his living, making the car more valuable in his mind than for most. However, stealing from cars should not be punishable by death!
The primary purpose of the castle doctrine is to allow people to protect themselves from harm, not their property. Had the thieves not been kids, but armed criminals, the property owner may have been the one killed.
All kids have the potential to do stupid things and make bad choices. I made a bad decision in the past and I’m sure others reading this have as well.