Family Upset As Homeowner Avoids Charges for Shooting Shirtless Partygoer

The homeowner who fatally shot an intoxicated partygoer in Woodbine, Maryland last month will not face criminal charges, a state attorney announced this week.

Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said Tuesday that “there was no criminal violation in this incident,” noting that the “horrible loss of life in this case is a product of a series of unfortunate coincidences that all came together to end in a horrific result.” 

On July 21, around 1:04 a.m., Gerardo “Gary” Espinoza began banging on the door of Charles Dorsey.  Espinoza, whose blood alcohol content was .22 (almost three times the legal limit for drivers (.08) in the state), was confused.  He mistakenly believed he was at the front door of his friend’s house who had hosted the pool party he had attended that day.  

Dorsey, not knowing the situation and having no idea who the shirtless man at his door was, grabbed a firearm and, from inside the home, instructed Espinoza to wait on the driveway.  Dorsey’s wife, meanwhile, was on the phone with 911. 

Frustrated that a person he believed was his “friend” was not letting him back inside the house, Espinoza began losing his temper.  Doorbell footage, recently released by Gibson’s office, details the exchange. 

“I’m going to f*ck you up,” exclaims Espinoza.  “You want a piece of this sh*t,”

Dorsey tells Espinoza to “get away from the door,” and to go back to the driveway.  

“This was done in an effort to make [it] easier for the police to apprehend Espinoza,” Gibson explained.

When Espinoza returned from the driveway he had about enough of what he must’ve perceived was an elaborate prank.  He attempted to force his way inside the residence. 

“Due to a defect in the door lock, the door when being physically jostled by Mr. Espinoza gives way [and] Mr. Espinoza breaches the household with his arm,” Gibson said.

“Espinoza’s behavior seemed to indicate a desire to harm the people in the house,” Gibson continued. “Espinoza did not literally mean the words he was saying at the door. But it’s equally clear there was no way for the Dorsey family to know that he did not intend exactly what he stated.”

SEE ALSO: Texas Homeowner Shoots Crazed Intruder Searching for Woman

Dorsey fired one shot, hitting Espinoza in the shoulder and puncturing his lung.  He would die as a result of the gunshot wound.  

Espinoza’s family was disappointed that there were no criminal charges brought against Dorsey, a lawful gun owner.  

“I’m just dumbfounded they aren’t going to pursue anything,” Espinoza’s sister, Rebecca Allen, told The Baltimore Sun. “My brother clearly had been outside the door, and it was clearly locked. It’s not like he tried to break his way in. He didn’t break a window. We don’t think this is right.”

Gibson clearly saw the situation differently, as it does appear that Espinoza did try to enter the residence, but he sympathized with the family’s reaction to the decision.

“I think it’s reasonable that they not be thrilled with the outcome in the terms of our decision in this matter. But I’d like to believe that they understand why we reached the conclusion that we reached. We didn’t just look at the [doorbell camera] video and say, ‘Ah, case closed; we got enough.’ We looked at the other factors.”

“My honest belief is that Mr. Espinoza thought he was being pranked and the prank had gone on too far,” he continued.

Although Maryland has strict laws governing the use of lethal force in self-defense situations, including a duty to retreat when confronted with a threat outside the home, the state recognizes the Castle Doctrine, which says essentially that a man’s home is his castle and his ultimate retreat.

Though it was, indeed, a tragedy, Dorsey acted lawfully when he used lethal force against Espinoza. Our thoughts and prayers to both the Espinoza family and the Dorsey family.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Jason Jennings July 27, 2021, 11:57 am

    I feel for the family of the partygoer, to a certain extent, especially those not at the party. However, the wife of her “wonderful husband of 23 years”apparently was there and bears much of the responsibility. She knew of his extreme impairment, but didn’t attempt to redirect him and have someone else or herself go to retrieve it… or at least realize he was gone for an inordinate amount of time and look for him. At 1am, there should have, at least, been enough noise to realize there was an issue, unless the party hosts lives on a vast palatial estate or have an indoor pool.

    Lastly, one wonders what sort of guest feels justified in “fighting his way back into” a friends home after being disallowed entry intoxicated or not? My gut tells me that the decedent is, at best, determined, aggressive and belligerent when under the influence and that the grieving family and friends left it up to unfamiliar neighbors to deduce that the guy currently trying to break into their home, by utilizing and inherent strength disadvantage between an adult male and adult female was actually in line for a Nobel Prize and further humanitarian accolades.

    I’d be astonished if there weren’t multiple attempts at civil litigation by the quite culpable family.

  • Justin May 1, 2020, 2:37 pm

    Another unfortunate alcohol related incident that ended poorly. Drink responsibly. If you want to get hammered do it in a safe environment and don’t leave until sober unless you are in the mutually understood custody of someone who you trust with your life. My condolences to the family of the deceased but in all fairness I couldn’t guarantee the safety of someone behaving in this manner at my door.

  • Robert April 7, 2020, 10:04 am

    1) You can’t have a castle (stand your ground) doctrine AND a duty to retreat at the same time.
    2) to claim that you know what was on his mind (drunk or otherwise) and what he, or anyone else for that matter is capable of— well, I think the ‘clairvoyance’ thing is pure B.S..

  • spktruth March 10, 2020, 12:39 am

    I am So Sorry for Your Loss Rebecca Allen but Your Brother was trying to get into their house, and I agree with what the homeowner did as I would have acted similarly.

  • Chad September 7, 2019, 8:50 pm

    Play stupid games win stupid prizes as far as his wife crying they were wrong about not charging the home owner where was she when he was walking around the neighborhood hammered!

  • Doc Loch September 7, 2019, 1:29 am

    This was NOT “a series of unfortunate coincidences!” The perpetrator chose to drink alcohol. He chose all the consequences of drinking this drug. He did it voluntarily and as a consenting adult. Anything related to his actions afterward are his own responsibility. He chose to allow his brain to loose control and force his way into another’s castle! He chose to die that day. His executioner was an unwilling victim his poor choices. Anyone who has ever drunken alcohol KNOWS that they loose control. Thus, if they choose to drink they choose ANY and ALL responsibility for any consequences of this initial choice. WE DON’T NEED MORE LAWS! WE NEED MORE CONSEQUENCES. This is why stupidity is rampant!

  • Mr. Sparkles September 6, 2019, 3:39 pm

    I am disappointed that the media has not noticed the opportunity to blame the inanimate object for the cause of such a disaster.

    The excessive amount of alcohol that Mr. Espinoza consumed is obviously to blame.

    Because of the actions of this one lawbreaker(public intoxication is a crime) all law abiding citizens should be penalized by

    1) having to register their alcohol, bottle by bottle,
    2) keep their alcohol under lock and key,
    3) have the capacity of their bottles limited to 10 oz(who needs more booze then that?)
    4) be held accountable for someone stealing their alcohol and using it in a crime, and
    5) be limited in what they drink based on what alcohol was available in 1776.

    And oh by the way, the distiller should be sued for the loss of life resulting from this drunks actions.

    • R. Corrino September 8, 2019, 11:27 pm

      Perfect!

      The homeowner had a right to possess his inanimate object. The “victim” had no such right with his.

  • John E September 6, 2019, 1:31 pm

    Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Every action has consequences. The person went out got drunk and in his blithering stupor threatened and attacked a family in their home. He is responsible for the actions that got him killed.

  • Jeff Kyle September 6, 2019, 1:17 pm

    I think we have a contender for this years Darwin Award.

  • Just1Spark September 6, 2019, 11:10 am

    You notice how the media only interviews the perps or perps family members.

  • SuperG September 6, 2019, 10:55 am

    The family is going to ignore all the laws that the dead man broke, and blame the innocents for the stupidity of the dead man. That is the trouble with society, nobody wants to accept responsibility for their actions, and everybody wants a free pass to do what they want. The dead man was drunk in public, he was trespassing, he was making threats, and he was breaking into a home. Everything HE did, basically ensured the outcome. I’m sorry for the homeowners who were terrorized by this man, and who now have to live with the bad memory, but they did the right thing.

  • Bob September 6, 2019, 10:12 am

    Forceful entry to a premises can be defined as simply as turning the door handle or knob on the door to gain entry. It does not have to be physically breaking the door down. The homeowner was obviously justified in his use of deadly force to stop the drunken intruder. The perpetrator’s family needs to back off instead of trying to cash in on the death of their overly intoxicated loved one.

  • Godfrey Washington September 6, 2019, 9:35 am

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes…

    • Phil Davis September 7, 2019, 9:54 am

      I saw a court video on youtube where an AA man is convicted of three premeditated murders and given life without…the family of the shooter was in the back of the court room and they went absolutely NUTS and the baliff had to get four more court people to restrain them…I guess they thought he should have been give probation….

  • Robert Messmer September 6, 2019, 9:17 am

    Quote: “Espinoza did not literally mean the words he was saying at the door.” Rich Gibson must have 100% conviction rate since he is a mind reader. Espinoza was banging on a door he had no business being at and said “I’m going to f**k you up”. He did not say ‘I am going to huff and puff and blow your house down’. No he communicated a direct threat.

    Quote: “My brother clearly had been outside the door, and it was clearly locked. It’s not like he tried to break his way in. He didn’t break a window. We don’t think this is right.” It is clear from the video that the man clearly did break his way in. You have a complaint sue the party giver for serving your brother too much alcohol.

    • Solvermn October 16, 2019, 3:05 pm

      I wonder if Mr Espinosa was an Illegal alien ??

  • Dr Motown September 6, 2019, 9:13 am

    Once he breeches the door swearing, the Castle Doctrine kicks in….don\’t play drunken games at that hour

  • Merle September 6, 2019, 8:09 am

    Alcohol was more to blame than the gun. Alcohol contributes to vastly more deaths in the US each year vs guns.

    • Doc Loch September 7, 2019, 1:32 am

      Close, but actually alcohol cannot be “to blame.” It has no mind and therefore no ability to respond. It is NOT responsible. Anyone who drinks IS by choice responsible for ANYTHING they do while drunken (or when they are NOT drunken)!

  • Michael Pierce September 5, 2019, 10:06 pm

    The man broke through the door, made serious threats of bodily harm and didn’t back away when instructed. It’s unfortunate that he had to die but he definitely asked for what he received.
    Get drunk and do stupid stuff, win stupid awards.

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