Homeless Man Stabs Students, Claims He was Defending His Box ‘Home’ Under the Castle Doctrine

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, February 28th, 2017. (Photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)

Can a box be considered a “home” and defended with deadly force under New York’s castle doctrine?

A judge in New York will decide exactly that in a case involving a homeless man who stabbed two college students after they kicked the boxes he sleeps in on the East Side.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. They should be prosecuting those two guys,” Joseph Matos said in an interview with the New York Times. He’s referring to Jorge Morales and Jose Bosch, two students from Guatemala who attend Boston College.

One night in 2018, Morales and Bosch were out drinking and looking for a strip club, according to court documents obtained by the Times. Walking past the boxes where Matos was sleeping, Morales kicked one of the boxes.

“I was pretty drunk, so I don’t remember some stuff,” Morales said. “Jose told me I kicked the box where he was sleeping, and that’s the reason he got mad.”

Morales claims he thought the boxes were trash and didn’t know anyone was in them. But Matos says he believed his life was in danger, which is why he grabbed a knife and attacked the two students. Matos claims the students came back to confront him.

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“When he goes past me, he rubs his shoulder at my chest like, like, ‘You ain’t nothin’,’ and like, ‘Yes, so what?’” Mr. Matos told investigators.

But prosecutors say that Matos was the aggressor and acted out of revenge rather than self-defense. They say he chased after the young men, stabbing one of them in his shoulder and back, lacerating his liver, and slashing the other above the eye.

In this telling of the story, Matos’ castle doctrine defense likely would not apply since he was away from his “home” at the time of the attack.

Even if Matos’ version of the events is true, the district attorney’s office argues in court documents that the man’s box does not meet the legal definition of a home because it was “not a permanent structure with walls and a roof.”

New York’s penal code, which would likely dictate whether Matos’ box constitutes a “home,” defines “building” and “dwelling” as follows:

“Building,” in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes any structure, vehicle or watercraft used for overnight lodging of persons, or used by persons for carrying on business therein, or used as an elementary or secondary school, or an inclosed motor truck, or an inclosed motor truck trailer. Where a building consists of two or more units separately secured or occupied, each unit shall be deemed both a separate building in itself and a part of the main building.

“Dwelling” means a building which is usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night.

While New York has a castle doctrine, it is not a “stand your ground” state, which means that Matos had a duty to retreat if possible. According to the Times, Mr. Matos admitted to investigators that he could have walked away and never said he thought the two young men were armed.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Paul Lech December 7, 2020, 1:54 pm

    If this was college go drunk a ran a truck throw someone house the would be in trouble. That boxes is that man’s house weather you think so or not. That what he can afford. Your car dose not have an address but it is covered under the Castle Doctrine. What if the car is not worth a given amount it’s not covered. God forbide that may be you some day. No money living on the street and some snot nosed punk living on dad’s money going to reck what little you have. Let see what you say then!!!

  • john joyce December 1, 2020, 11:25 pm

    dude screwed up. I would have knifed the two a$$ cracks and went back to my box. When the cops showed up my defense would have been “don’t know nothing, ain’t seen nothing and that’s all I got to say”…….

  • InnerEar November 30, 2020, 11:26 am

    A home has an address, this box did not. In the State of NY you cannot ‘shoot’ someone unless they have entered your home or chase a person and do them harm after they run OUT of the home. Some of these comments sound like homeless idiots blaming their lot in life on everyone; but themselves. I guess if justice is served box man will get an address and a place to receive mail.

  • Jim November 30, 2020, 11:02 am

    No, this was NOT a “Castle Doctrine” case at all. !. he was not near his ‘Home’ when he stabbed these two. 2. He knew they were both unarmed and he had to chase after them. 3. He did not feel that his life was in danger. He is nothing more than a mean alcoholic homeless guy who hates everyone and is willing to kill anyone that he thinks ‘disrespects’ him. He does not need to be called ‘Homeless’ any longer as his new home should be the State Prison and sent there for two charges of assault with intent!

  • Abby Normal November 30, 2020, 10:29 am

    NY – this guy is so screwed. Even the liberals that have completely destroyed that city don’t like it

  • LJ November 30, 2020, 8:53 am

    Sounds to me like two drunken college idiots of means went looking for trouble in the big apple and found it. They should have been sent back to Guatemala.

  • a11four1 November 28, 2020, 4:52 pm

    Students have uncultivated thought processes; and undeserved superiority complexes. Whether a castle doctrine or not, are receiving lessons not likely offered in a liberal arts lab.
    So, it will be awhile before in the words of a favorite character will be “Here end’th the lesson”.

  • Kole November 28, 2020, 12:50 am

    Well legal or not, maybe people shouldn’t mess with others. Especially when they are down and out. The guy is screwed because he chased. However they deserved what they got. All three should be charged in some fashion. The homeless man should be held accountable for his actions as well as the other two. They should be deported for kicking someone while they sleep. I would of retaliated too. They should of known better and been respectful to the guy.

  • Michael J November 27, 2020, 2:06 pm

    Somebody started the ball rolling, I don’t think it was the box dweller. A little respect from the privileged foreigners for Americas down and out.

  • jim November 27, 2020, 12:38 pm

    The missing info, which will determine the outcome of the case, is the distance away from his box the men were when stabbed. I doubt the court will have to rule on whether or not the box is a home if the distance away from the box was more than, say, 20 feet. As an example, if you are defending your home, but you go outside the door 20 feet to confront someone, you are no longer defending your home. Obviously, there are exceptions, especially if both parties have firearms, but that does not apply here.

  • Russ November 27, 2020, 10:15 am

    Attorneys that put this in this homeless persons mind as a defense truly are scumbags. New York is full of them. My belief is he will lose the case because he pursued after the victims and left his box. The same way you would lose if you pursued after the suspects if they left your home. They were unarmed and no longer a threat. It doesn’t matter anyways Dumblasio or that Cuomo fool will get him off. They always side with the scum.

  • Dr Motown November 27, 2020, 8:36 am

    Can’t use “castle doctrine” since the person never entered his box, and Matos chased them down the street

  • Stephen Graham, MD November 27, 2020, 7:57 am

    Current society performs an unfathomably terrible disservice to “homeless” people by calling them “Homeless”. As a physician in inner city hospitals, I have treated many hundreds of these people; I have never met one who was actually “homeless”. They have all been manic depressives, paranoid schizophrenics, substance abusers (drugs and / or alcohol), or have profound personality disorders. Each of these individuals suffers from society’s misnaming them “homeless”, as if homelessness is the problem. STOP misdiagnosing them and thereby preventing programs that actually treat their REAL diagnosis. We must use the correct diagnosis in order to provide the correct treatment. Satin you are a “headachy” when you actually have a mass growing in your head certainly discusses the true issue and prevents the necessary treatment. There are no homeless people as they are presented by the media perceived by lay society.

    • Nunya Bidness November 27, 2020, 11:55 am

      What do you suggest as the proper nomenclature to describe those that live in cardboard boxes?
      “Dwelling challenged”
      “fiberboard resident”
      “recycled material shelter occupant”

      Get off it, doc. Step down from your podium and stop trying to make something into what it is not.
      You, and those like you, are the root of what is going wrong in this country.

      When they are referred to as “homeless,” it is not a comment on their mental health or physical health. The word “homeless” is used to describe the living arrangements (and/or lack thereof) of the person that is the subject of the description. It only means that the person does not have access to a dwelling in which to live at the specific time of the comment.
      It has absolutely ZERO to do with mental, or physical, heaIth.
      Words have meaning. Your feelings do not modify those definitions.

      I have had the displeasure of being labeled as “homeless” in my past. The reasons i became “homeless” had absolutely nothing to do with a medical condition (mental or physical health) whatsoever.
      It was the end result of poor choices on my part.

      Life lesson #1:
      Do not mess with the IRS (they have no sense of humor, trust me), go through a messy divorce involving children, change professions, move 150 miles south, get a new job working for someone that detests the fact that you are a male (which was not apparent at the time you accepted employment), have a tenant in your multi-family rental destroy the building to the point where the city revokes the occupancy permits, and you have no money saved up (you used it all on your divorce attorney and the IRS)…all at the same time.

      Save you “SJW” horseshit.
      You are no better than anyone else.

      • Bob Jabroni November 29, 2020, 1:45 pm

        Nunya, you seem to be sitting pretty high up for being a homeless POS. I’ll take advice from an internet doctor before a vagrant loser who’s wife left him.

    • jim November 27, 2020, 12:47 pm

      So…what would you prefer they be called? Sick? Mentally unbalanced? Street dwellers? Portable homeowners? The FACT remains that they are “homeless”. Further, the word “homeless” does not universally connote “loser”, “criminal”, or other inherently disparaging image. It connotes, “they have no home”, and is a factual portrayal. If you can come up with a simple and descriptive word that defines their situation, I will certainly be able to find an individual who is insulted by your word or description.

    • Dr Motown November 30, 2020, 7:12 am

      Well, as a retired “doc” myself, who remembers “state hospitals” and “mental asylums,” there’s no doubt that a high percentage of the HOMELESS suffer from mental illness. Some of them can be successfully treated and reintroduced into society, but most choose NOT to accept treatment or to abandon it after a period of compliance. We used to have facilities (“institutions”) for them, but these were deemed “cruel” and the patients were literally dumped back on the streets or to families who were ill-equipped to deal with their behavior and non-compliance. This experiment has largely failed, resulting in many of our cities becoming literal landfills for the mentally ill, so it’s time to bring back the concept of institutionalization. Otherwise, the problem isn’t going away with “outpatient services” only

  • Big Jim November 27, 2020, 7:55 am

    If they tried to light his box on fire, shot through it, stabbed a sharp object through it or other means of destruction, i’d say Matos would of had a chance to explain to the judge. But since he pursued them outside after the altercation he’s got an uphill battle. You can’t pursue someone, look at what happened with Rittenhouse.

    • Kane November 27, 2020, 10:20 am

      Clarification, Rittenhouse was pursued by the mob while trying to put out fires and protect property. Two different cases.

      • Betheld November 27, 2020, 10:47 am

        ^

      • El Zorro November 28, 2020, 7:02 pm

        And despite being the target of, and being pursued by a homicidal mob, Rittenhouse was was charged with murder and multiple felonies, so not only does it look bad for Mr. Matos, I’d say the rest of us are screwed too. That leaves us with a simple choice: Either prepare to annihilate the fiends who are stealing our country from us, right under our noses, or prepare to be annihilated…

  • BUURGAb November 27, 2020, 3:15 am

    He should be tried as a self-defense case………not Castle Doctrine. The judge will have a tough time in an appeals court with this nonsense.

  • J L Boss November 27, 2020, 2:32 am

    Just like the prosecutors to push the antiquated laws just to win the case. They don’t care if the person is innocent and within his/her rights.

    • K. Thomas November 27, 2020, 8:14 am

      “They say he chased after the young men, stabbing one of them in his shoulder and back, lacerating his liver, and slashing the other above the eye.” So how was “innocent” Mr. Matos within his rights by chasing the two fleeing men and trying to kill them?

      • Russ November 27, 2020, 10:17 am

        Exactly. Judge should not allow that defense because it will be overturned.

      • El Zorro November 28, 2020, 7:05 pm

        Because the filthy immigrant scum had it coming. I know you don’t get that now–you probably abhor it–but one day (and sooner than you think) you’ll get it. One way or another…

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