Saturday, November 17, 2007
Pasadena man remorseful about killings captured on 911 call, attorney says
The Pasadena adult male who killed two suspected burglars as they left his next-door neighbor's place did not mean to kill them when he stepped outside with his 12-gauge shotgun, his lawyer said Friday.
In portraying Joe Horn as a victim of circumstances, lawyer and longtime friend Uncle Tom Lambright called the 61-year-old computer adviser "a good household man" who have been devastated by the Wednesday afternoon burglary and shooting.
Killed in the incident in the 7400 block of Timber Line were Miguel Antonio DeJesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30, both of Houston.
Each had a minor former brushwood with the law. Records show DeJesus was charged with failure to place himself to a police force military officer in July 2004. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Ortiz was charged with ownership of marihuana in July 2005, but it was later dismissed.
"He (Horn) was just doing what everyone is supposed to do," Lambright said at a news conference in presence of the Houston police force commemoration near downtown. "He called the police. He was cooperating with them as best he could, trying to give the police force the way of the burglars. He knew there was danger going outside."
Horn ignored repeated instruction manual from a 911 starter to stay in his home. He told the dispatcher, "I'm not going to allow them acquire away with it. I can't take a opportunity in getting killed over this. OK? I'm gonna shoot. I'm gonna shoot."
While lawyers and legal experts across the metropolis continued to debate the legality of Horn's actions, he have left town with his family, Lambright said.
"Hopefully he will see a physician and maybe acquire a sedative," he said. "He is not well mentally. This have devastated him. Not in his wildest dreamings could he fathom this event."
Lambright said Horn, whom he have considered a friend for 41 years, wept inconsolably during their conversations.
"Joe is the absolute antonym of what everyone believes he is," Lambright said. "He is not a cowboy. He is not physical. He's 61 old age old and overweight. He's not confrontational. He's just a good guy."
Lambright read a written statement in which Horn said the violent deaths would "weigh heavily on me for the remainder of my life. My ideas travel out to the loved 1s of the deceased."
Lambright said Horn was a hunter, but kept the scattergun in his pickup truck "for security."
No pieces in houseHorn lives with his girl and granddaughter and makes not maintain pieces in the house, his lawyer said.
Lambright said Horn was upstairs working at a computing machine about 2 p.m. when he heard the sound of breakage glass next door. Horn called 911, engaging in a drawn-out conversation with the dispatcher, who repeatedly advised him to wait inside until police force arrived.
"Mr. Horn, make not travel outside the house. You're going to acquire yourself shot if you travel outside that house with a gun," the starter told Horn at one point.
"You wanna do a bet," Horn responded. "I'm gonna killing them. They're gonna acquire away."
Legal sentiments conflictLambright contended that Horn was startled to happen the burglars just 15 feet from his presence door when he stepped onto his porch. "He was petrified at that point," the lawyer said. "You hear him say, 'I'll shoot. Stop!' They jumped. Joe thought they were coming for him. It's a self-defense issue."
Attorneys and legal experts said Horn's defence probably will be based on state law that lets people to utilize deathly military unit to protect neighbors' property.
"If you see person stealing your neighbor's property, you can acquire involved and assist to halt it," said Sandra Guerra Thompson, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
The legislative acts that let people to utilize deathly military unit to halt a burglary look to necessitate that the incident be occurring at night, said Craig Jett, a Dallas criminal defence lawyer and president of the Lone-Star State Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association.
"It can't be during the day," Jett said.
Experts said that a expansive jury may sympathise with Horn. Some people believe that you should be able to protect your neighborhood, said Antony Osso, a Houston criminal defence attorney.
Osso said that Horn's defence might be that he wanted to forestall the robbers from leaving until police force arrived, but they tried to fly and he shot them.
"His best scenario is that he went out to utilize the menace of deathly force," Osso said. "But they came at him on his ain property."
Osso said Horn's 911 phone call makes not state the whole narrative about the shooting. Investigators will necessitate information about where the suspects were shot and if they had stopped when Horn ordered them not to move.
"Some people on the expansive jury will sympathise with him," said Adam Gershowitz, a law professor at South Lone-Star State College of Law. "Maybe he shouldn't have got done this, but he was acting in a manner a batch of people feel."
But that makes not intend he won't be charged, Gershowitz added.
"There's a ground we don't allow people take the law into their ain hands," he said. "We have got a police military unit force for that. As an constituted society, we believe we are better off with an authorised police military unit force that have criteria and preparation rather than untrained vigilantes."
A copy of the 911 phone call proposes Horn intended to make what he felt necessary to halt the burglars. Despite a combined attempt by the starter to carry him to allow police force trade with the break-in, Horn was repetitive on trying maintain them from getting away.
"I don't desire you going outside, Mr. Horn," the starter said.
"Well, here it goes, buddy," Horn said. "You hear the scattergun clicking, and I'm going."
Seconds later three scattergun blasts are heard.
Praise for dispatcherExperts who reviewed a recording of the phone phone call at the Chronicle's petition said the starter handled the call professionally and did all he could to defuse the state of affairs until police force arrived.
"He was doing everything he could to 'normalize' the conversation and not agitate the company any further," said Sue Pivetta, a preparation adviser from Sumner, Wash. "Trust me when I state that he was indeed showing professional control at the peak level."
Charles Carter, a former police force executive director in Capital Of Georgia who have trained starters for two decades, said the military officer who handled Horn's phone call used proven techniques to deter him from leaving his home.
"We learn a technique called insistent persistence," Howard Carter said. "It necessitates to be at a degree less than the individual career to seek to acquire him to calm down down and listen to you. He did an outstanding occupation and demands to be commended."
Chronicle newsmen Microphone Tolson and Babe Ruth Rendon contributed to this report.