Wednesday, November 28, 2012

W. T. F. Minnesota

You ever have one of those moments where you go WHAT THE FUCK?

Yea, me too.  In this case, it's about this article I read on fark.com.  Here's the facts as I understand them.  Two teens tried to rob a 64-year old retiree while he was in his own home on thanksgiving day.  He shot them both dead.  Today he got convicted of second degree murder.

Now, my initial reaction on reading the article was YES!  Old guy defending his home from ROBBERS!  Way ta go!  Only, apparently, everyone else in the town reacted differently.  maybe i'm a little weird, I admit that, but i do NOT understand the reactions of the townspeople involved here.  Apparently, everyone is shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone could kill these two wonderful teens.  They were so fun-loving, so full of life, they were 17 and 18, and everyone liked them.  Sure, the girl had had substance abuse issues in the past, but she was trying to turn her life around and was a mentor to many girls on her swim team, but the 17 year old boy would never have turned to robbery because he had a good job at his dad's business or something.  A direct quote said something to the effect that they "didn't know whether or not they were there to rob him but regardless of that they shouldn't have been killed."

So now I am confused.  I look up several articles so i can get all my facts straight.  Here's what I know.  The guy, a retired 64 year old ex-employee of the state department, is puttering around in his basement on thanksgiving day.  He's been robbed EIGHT TIMES recently, according to the guy's friend, the last time was in october, where they took $10,000 worth of guns and electronics.  Apparently, the 17 year old came down the stairs first, surprising the guy, who apparently had a rifle and a pistol handy.  He shot the 17 year old in the shoulder (or chest, the articles differ on this), who tumbled down the rest of the stairs, then shot him once in the head.  The 18 year old girl then apparently came down the stairs shortly thereafter, possibly after the older man dragged the body over on a tarp, and he shot her as well.  She fell down the stairs.  He would have shot her again, but his rifle jammed.  Apparently, she laughed at this.  The older man drew his pistol and fired into her chest several times and then shot through the chin into her head.  Apparently, he believed the authorities would be suitably busy on Thanksgiving that he didn't want to bother them, so the next day he called his neighbor to ask if they knew a good lawyer, and then either the neighbor called police or the guy called the neighbor back and asked them to call the police.  The police arrive friday, the guy admits to killing them, they arrest him, he goes to jail.  Sits in jail for the weekend, gets arraigned on monday, and somehow, is convicted by this morning, wednesday, two days later.

Let's just look at the timeline here for a minute.  I don't think I've ever even heard of a murder trial (which this turned out to be) taking two days from start to finish.  He gets arrested friday, arraigned on monday.  How would they even have notified potential jurors or finished selecting the jury by tuesday to begin the trial?  Don't these things usually take years, or at least a few months?

I was discussing this with my nephew this morning.  He told me a few things I had not read in any of the articles.  I'm not sure where he gets his information, but he said the girl was shot 16 times.  Excessive, if true.  He also said the guy was happy he'd killed the two, asking the police if they thought the kill shots were nice and clean.  Doesn't sound like a man who is feeling guilt over doing the shootings to me.  Of course, my nephew also told me his trial only lasted ten minutes, because the guy wanted it that way.  I asked my nephew how an entire murder trial can be conducted in ten minutes.  My nephew said "maybe small scale crimes like this are handled differently?  Maybe the guy was feeling too guilty?"  Well, if the man is feeling guilty and wants his trial over quickly, then that certainly doesn't sound like the guy who was gloating over the kills during the police interrogation, does it?  None of the articles I read mentions her being shot 16 times, nor his gloating, nor the length of the trial, except that, somehow, they found him guilty of second degree murder in 2 days.  I can see a jury taking a couple days to decide the outcome, but the WHOLE TRIAL taking two days is unheard of, let alone ten minutes, which is absolutely outrageous.  And small scale?  A second degree murder conviction with national media attention is small scale??

My nephew was originally on the side of the teens.  How dare an old guy shoot these two wonderful people with so much to live for.  How could he shoot them, instead of getting an alarm system, or getting a dog, or just hiding and calling the police?  One, it's a rural area, authorities might take a while to get there even if he had called the police.  Two, he was in his basement at the time, whether he had a phone down there is questionable.  Three, a dog, really?  Those things poop EVERYWHERE.  Four, an alarm system in a rural area might not have even made a difference.  Sometimes your neighbors can be so far away they wouldn't even hear an alarm.  But that's all just supposition on both our parts.  My nephew had to completely rethink his position by the end of our discussion.

Let's look at the old guy's story.  The 64 year old man filed a police report just last month totaling the ten grand worth of guns and electronics they stole from him.  He's downstairs, working in his basement, according to what he told police.  He hears a sound like glass breaking, and the next thing he knows there is a guy coming down his stairs.  Fearing for his life and thinking they were armed, he shoots him.  A few minutes later, the girl comes downstairs and he shoots her too.  Apparently, the girl's initial wounds are so mild that she laughs when his gun jams, so he pulls his pistol and shoots her a few more times.  Perhaps a bit excessive, I admit.  But second degree murder?  Really?

Let's run through this.  It's legal to use deadly force to defend yourself in this man's state if you think you may be in danger or to defend your home or property.  I think it was minnesota.  Let's check these off.  The incident occurred in his home.  Defending your home, check.  They were there to rob him as they had done so in the past... defending your property, check.  They had stolen guns from him before, so he had every reason to believe they were armed, so defending his life, check.  I don't really see an issue here.

Let's reverse things a bit.  Say it's an 18 year old girl in her basement.  Two 64 year old men break in.  She has reason to believe they have robbed her before and that they are armed.  She shoots them both.  One laughs at her after she shoots him once.  She's only just shot him, so there's no way to tell if he's got a gun on him or not, so she shoots him several more times until he's dead.  Would SHE be charged with murder?  I highly doubt it.

Why is the fact that these two were teens such an issue, that the old guy should never have cut their lives short?  They've convicted 12 year olds of murder and rape before.  Obviously, at least to me, these two teens were career criminals who'd robbed from multiple people multiple times.  One at least was a drug addict, who stole not only from strangers but friends as well.  My nephew said these were "teenage mistakes," but how do you make the same mistake of walking into another person's home and stealing their stuff 10 to 12 times?  Now, who was the old man?  An ex employee of the state department.  Apparently never had a problem with the law before in his entire life of 64 years.  Puttering around in his home on thanksgiving day because he doesn't have family close enough to spend the holiday with.  A couple robbers break in and he shoots them.  If these two had been anyone but a couple teens, the guy would be back in his home right now, puttering around in his basement.

Now I know, you've got questions.  Why did the guy not call the police right away?  Why did he shoot them so many times?  Well, here's how I look at it.  The guy's in his basement.  It's thanksgiving.  Two people break in to rob and possibly kill him.  This is already an old person's worst nightmare.  I'm sure he was rattled.  He manages to shoot one of them, and puts another bullet in him to make sure he's dead, because he's an old man and the gun is his only defense.  There's no way he can fight off two healthy intruders.  Now, let's pause a moment here.  Let's say you are the girl, upstairs, on the ground floor, and you hear two gunshots.  Do you then go downstairs to find out what the noise was? This was a rifle, not a pistol.  These were LOUD RIFLE SHOTS.  No, you don't wander downstairs to see if your cousin is okay.  You RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.  Whether you go to the police or not is questionable, since you are there to rob the guy in the first place, but you almost certainly run if you are of sound mind.  My bet is, she was already high.  Now let's go back to the old guy.  I am pretty sure if I was in the old guy's place, I'd be wondering why the other intruder hadn't bolted at the first sound of gunfire.  So he's in his basement, he's just killed an intruder in his home, who he is almost positive was there to rob and possibly kill him with guns he'd already stolen from him.  He's shaken, doesn't know what to do next.  The phone is upstairs, so he can't call police.  The second intruder, instead of running, comes downstairs after him as well.  He puts a bullet in her leg as she's coming down the stairs, before she can aim and shoot at him for killing her friend.  Keep in mind, this is the first time he's seen her.  Up to the instant he puts a bullet in her, the intruders could have been anyone from Ted Bundy to Mike Tyson to Rambo.  Up til she falls down the stairs, he probably doesn't even know it's a she.  So she falls down the stairs, and the gun jams before he can finish her off.  He's scared, angry, he's just killed one of the intruders, and the other is laughing at him, possibly still armed.  Frankly, I'd have put a few bullets in her myself.  I don't really know any sane people that laugh when they get shot.  I'd have assumed she was laughing because she was nuts, about to shoot ME, or as was probably the case here, high as a kite.  So.  Now you're the only survivor of a gunfight in your basement.  You've killed two teenagers.  You check the bodies and realize they are unarmed.  You're already in a panic because you just had a gunfight, the first time in your life you've ever had this sort of excitement, and you're 64 years old.  What do you do now?

I admit, the old guy handled it badly.  But he had every reason to believe they were armed and dangerous felons who had previously robbed him.  I am sure that they were actually unarmed teens had never even occurred to him.  The mere fact that he'd been robbed 8 times previously would have me pissed off.  Who the hell robs an old man EIGHT TIMES in his own home?  I could never in a million years convict this guy of murder if I was on his jury.  Murder, to me, involves planning and preparation.  I didn't think you could be convicted of murder without that part.  I guess I was wrong, since these two teens surprised him in his basement, ended up dead and somehow he got convicted of second degree murder.  Which again begs the question, how do you get arraigned, tried and convicted of second degree murder in less than 48 hours?

Everything about this case screams WTF to me.  Sure, he didn't report the killings right away, on thanksgiving day.  Sure he panicked.  But he didn't try to hide the bodies.  He admitted right away that he shot and killed the robbers when the police showed up.  How this man is guilty of murder is amazing to me.  How he was arrested, arraigned, tried and convicted in 3 business days is totally unbelievable to me.  I doubt even jury selection would have taken less than a week for such a trial.  So that leaves a deal arranged by the prosecution to convict a guy amid public outcry for killing "these two wonderful teens."  Oh yea, while they were trying to rob him.  Come on minnesota.  I think instead of saying "whether or not they were there to rob him is irrelevant."  and instead say "How many times he shot them is irrelevant."  If they hadn't entered his home to rob him, AGAIN, they'd never have been injured in any way.  So instead of being with their family on thanksgiving day, these TWO WONDERFUL TEENS of which you speak are out robbing old people.  It would have happened eventually, whether they were 18 or 38, if they had gone on robbing people's homes and feeding their drug-fueled binges.  Everyone was outraged because he had cut their lives short, but nobody has mentioned how he cut their life of CRIME short.  Drug addicted career criminals going around robbing people's houses on thanksgiving day!  I mean come on!  I'm surprised the guy was even held over the weekend.  I think as time wears on, this older guy will get exonerated and released.  At least, he should if people come to their senses and really LOOK at the facts of the case.

But what do I know?  I guess Minnesota is different, and in that state, the guy is a vicious killer.  Remind me never to move there.

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