A Louisville, Kentucky, homeowner is now facing a murder charge for chasing down and fatally shooting an alleged home invader.
Authorities say the incident happened around 12:23 a.m. when two men broke into the home of 22-year-old Deontae Yarnell.
Yarnell confronted the men in his home and opened fire, sending them running for their lives. However, instead of allowing them to flee, Yarnell chased them and fired at one as he was attempting to climb a fence.
Yarnell hit the suspect, killing him. It’s not clear as to whether the suspect was armed. The suspect has yet to be identified.
“I kept hearing people crying and I kept hearing the cops and the noise,” said a neighbor, according to WAVE3 News. “You can’t help but think here is a poor man that is laying deceased on my yard.”
Meanwhile, the incident raises several legal questions about self-defense and Kentucky’s firearm laws, including the state’s controversial ’Stand Your Ground’ law.
Attorney Thomas Clay told WAVE3 News that the state’s SYG covers “defensive” circumstances.
“It is not one where a person is authorized to chase after an intruder and then run him down and shoot him,” said Clay. “I think it would be very questionable if that defense would be available under the circumstance of this case.”
Yarnell is being arraigned on Monday, it’s not clear what degree murder charge he will face.
A few quick thoughts… First off, details are sill emerging so any kind of analysis is pure conjecture at this point. That said, based upon the bare bones evidence of the case, it doesn’t look good for Yarnell. From my experience covering defensive gun use and stand your ground stories, the homeowner or victim has to demonstrate reasonable behavior under the circumstances. To explicate, is it reasonable for one to assume that Yarnell’s life was in imminent danger if the alleged suspect was on the run and climbing a fence to get away?
If Yarnell’s defense attorney can paint a picture whereby it’s clear that his client reasonably feared for his life during the chase and subsequent shooting, then he has a chance at getting off. But, again, it’s going to be a tall hill to climb if it’s clear that the suspect was (a) unarmed and (b) fleeing the scene.
Various other factors will come into play: Yarnell, did he know the burglars? Does he have a criminal record? Did the suspects have prior criminal records? Were any of the suspects armed? What was the emotional state of Yarnell?