On the Fence: Homeowner Charged with Murder For Shooting Fleeing Home Invader

wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather

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.

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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?

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • roy November 6, 2015, 6:53 am

    Cops shoot people in the back whether they have a gun, a rock, a toy gun, or nothing at all and even if there lying down on their stomach. This guy was making sure it wont happen again and I think that its not fair to charge him with murder. He should be put on paid vacation while an “investigation” happens.
    If it was murder I don’t think ANYONE should get away with that. If he was being robbed or burglarized who knows what the person could have done If he had not shot him. Maybe he would of broke into an old ladies home and done something worse. Normal people don’t break into peoples homes. If it was a dumb kid however I feel bad for you son.

  • DRAINO August 13, 2015, 7:40 am

    He did the public a service and saved a lot of money since this criminal doesn’t need to be prosecuted….therefore he must be guilty and punished. Yes, it’s sick that that’s how far gone our society is. The threat hadn’t been eliminated on his property…..therefore, as I see it, he had a right to pursue and eliminate the threat on his property. The guy could have turned and attacked him at any time…..therefore there was still a threat. That’s just my thoughts. Of course common sense doesn’t matter anymore in the Socialist States of America……the criminals have more rights than the law abiding citizens.

    • Chris August 13, 2015, 3:07 pm

      Well you are absolutely wrong. If you want to educate yourself then you should start to read books on self-defense and the law by Massad Ayoob. If you carry a gun or own one for self-defense then you need to do that, otherwise the prosecution will own you and take you to court for being an idiot about the law. You will then be found guilty by twelve people selected and weeded out by the prosecutor who are not NRA members, who do not own a gun, who are not related to any members of the police or military and who basically know nothing about guns. Good luck on that, for shooting a suspect who did not show any signs of being a heinous felon and posing a threat to the general public. Yes he stole and broke into some ones house but at the time he was shot from what is being said, did not poses the 3 things needed in a self-defense or stand your ground law for him to have been legally shot. Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy. You need to have all 3 in order for you to present an affirmative defense for your actions.

      Mark, John Plough & Draino – the three of you need to become more educated on self-defense and the law if you are going to carry. You don’t know what you don’t know.

      Yes I do carry, yes I support the 2nd Amendment, No I am not a democrat or a person who is anti-gun but you guys are the problem. Your Monday quarterback point of views that a prosecutor would love to use against you and you only give ammunition to the anti-gunners with your careless remarks. Nice job painting the rest of us as a bunch of gun toting idiots “that don’t know nuttin better” than to “shoot first and ask questions later” good job! Also what if he had missed and killed an innocent bystander, possibly a young child sleeping in the house next door. Also you morons don’t consider what sort of an emotional dilemma this is going to be for him (the man who killed the man) and his family emotionally and financially. He could go to jail and have to live with the fact that he killed someone. If you don’t think that this isn’t going to truly affect him because he’s a man and you think that he did the right thing then you truly are stupid. If so then sell your guns, give back your concealed carry permits and leave that to the real men of the world, not you couch commandos.

      • PAUL November 7, 2015, 11:01 am

        Chris, well said

      • Ken Keith November 8, 2015, 12:37 pm

        Chris – The “criminal” is laying dead in the man’s yard——–problem solved……. Bet nobody else will try to break into Deontae’s house. What a great deterrent!!!!! If the law disagrees with his action, then the law is wrong………
        It’s not like this guy saw him drop his wallet, and instead of returning it, slipped it into his own pocket, which would imply a lack of character and a crime of opportunity. He was in the man’s house!!! This required “fore-thought” and planning. His intent is obvious. If this would occur a couple hundred more times in this country, maybe the thieves would get the message that “breaking and entering” could be a capital offense, and carry the death penalty, if the property owner catches you in the act. GOOD JOB Deontae……….. be sure and re-load……..

        • Mikial April 7, 2017, 5:57 pm

          Ken, I am sure Deontae will have no idea what’s even happening at his house since he will likely be in prison. That’s all Chris is trying to point out. I have absolutely zero concern for the dead criminal, but i do have concern for both the armed citizen who went a step too far and for the rest of us who have to deal with the idiot Liberals who try to use stories like this against us.

          Another consideration is the simple fact that if this were legal, then anyone could shoot someone in the back and claim they were a fleeing from the scene of a felony. I’ve worked in a lot of Third World hellholes where the rule of law is nonexistent and trust me, you don’t want that here.

      • flyR March 18, 2016, 11:49 am

        I don’t disagree with you on the current state of the law in many states. However, I do disagree on our ACCEPTANCE of the civil rights of the fleeing felon, to be free from the threat of police or citizen use of deadly force to apprehend .

        WHY NOT JUST LET THE INTRUDER FLEE IN SAFETY?

        There are very few crimes other than attempted assignation where the crime is so inherently dangerous to the victim as is the case in a the invasion of an occupied home. Time and again , while the intruder may not have gone in with the intent to harm, when surprised by an equally surprised homeowner the outcome is murder, great bodily harm, rape, kidnapping and always terror.

        The liberals love to pretend that little Treyvon Martin or Mr Brown just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time the truth is that they were career thugs. As another ghetto mother sought to have the defending citizen prosecuted for killing her home invading son – my boy had no way to get the money he needs other than robbing folks .

        Thuggery is a career choice in which the population is divided into hunters and victims. It is not just a once in a lifetime event but a daily or weekly event in the life of the thug until he dies, goes to jail or makes a better career choice. Treating thugs with a catch and release program or taking the risk out of fleeing from an armed homeowner only passes the danger on to others.

        The thug is entitles to protection from being shot when he is standing with his hands raised or prone on the ground with his arms outstretched. Every time we tighten the rules of engagement for police or citizens we only increase the number of thugs on the streets.

        We need honest politicians with the courage to confront the Black Lies Matter folks with the simple concept ….. if you want black lives to matter stop killing eachother ( 96% of blacks die at the hands of other blacks or during the commission of a felony) , stop running from or even challenging the police – you are not entitled to a “fair fight” with a police officer or citizen.

        And finally – when seconds count the police are only minutes away, perhaps 20-30 minutes in many jurisdictions.

        Let’s not stay stuck on stupid. You don’t see dirtbags running out onto the freeways to try and rob passing motorists because they know they will die. If they had a well reasoned belief that either great harm or incarceration would follow a home invasion the crime would cease to be a problem.

  • john Plough August 11, 2015, 4:58 pm

    He shouldn’t claim self defense. He should claim he was shooting at a fleeing felon to protect the general public. Hope he has a good lawyer, citizens are allowed to use force to affect an arrest. This varies by state.

  • Mark August 11, 2015, 9:17 am

    What’s the problem. Cops shoot people all the time.

    • Chris from Cali February 13, 2017, 5:25 am

      Yes, but they’re more equal than you. ;D

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