Either Oklahoma’s implementation of castle doctrine and stand your ground laws are substantially different than that of the rest of the country, or the assistant district attorney could use a refresher on the laws of self defense.
The nearly eight-minute 911 call begins about 12:44 p.m. on Monday.
“I’ve just been broken into. Three men, two I’ve shot in my house,” the caller says. “One’s down, one’s still talking. You need to get here now.”
The caller doesn’t sound panicked, and waits for the operator to ask him questions.
Wagoner County Chief Deputy Les Young said a deputy arrived two minutes after the 911 call was initiated. The operator keeps the caller — a 23-year-old who lives at the home — on the phone until you hear the deputy talking to him.
A probable cause affidavit alleges Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, planned the burglary and waited in the car while the masked intruders broke into the home.
In a news release Wednesday, the sheriff’s department said Rodriguez waived her right to an attorney and told them she determined the residents “had money and expensive belongings, and that was why she selected his home to ‘hit a lick’ – a term some criminals use to describe getting a significant amount of money in a short period of time.”
Authorities said the suspect “became aware” of the homeowner, but did not know him or his son, the shooter.
Rodriguez and the three slain intruders burglarized a spare apartment at the residence earlier in the day and returned to rob the main house, the news release said. The three teens, dressed in black and covering their faces, kicked in the door, encountered the resident and were shot inside the house.
“One of the injured suspects exited the home and tried to get back in to Rodriguez’s vehicle, but she told investigators she drove away and left him in the driveway,” the release said.
Rodriguez allegedly fled and later went to the Broken Arrow Police Department.
Does ‘Stand your ground’ law apply?
Young said she was arrested and was being held on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary.
Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp said Tuesday that Rodriguez could be formally charged with murder if the suspects were killed while she was involved in a felony. But formal charges won’t come until later in the week, at the earliest.
It is unclear whether Rodriguez has an attorney.
The deceased suspects were Jaycob Woodruff, 16; Jacob Redfern, 17; and Maxwell Cook, 19, the sheriff’s office said. One suspect had a knife, and another carried brass knuckles, authorities have said.
Thorp told reporters that investigators will help his office determine whether Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law applies in the case of the triple shooting.
The 911 call and all publicly available information suggests that the shooting occurred during a home invasion attempt in which the suspects were armed with a knife and brass knuckles. One of the dead burglars was found dead in the driveway after running from the home. The others were found inside the home.
This sounds like a textbook castle doctrine case under Oklahoma law.
§ 21-1289.25 PHYSICAL OR DEADLY FORCE AGAINST INTRUDER
A. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes or places of business.
B. A person or an owner, manager or employee of a business is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or a place of business, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business; and
2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
Stand your ground laws (including Oklahoma’s) are an expansion of castle doctrine’s protections to apply to places other than in the home or business. As this was unquestionably a burglary/home invasion, Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp is mistaken in suggesting that § 21-1289.25 D, the stand your ground provision, should apply.
D. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
I fully expect the mainstream media to misapply and misconstrue the laws regarding self defense cases in order to make lawful self defense seem bad or evil. They are, after all, typically strong supporters of gun control.
It’s infuriating, however, for prosecutors not to know the laws regarding self defense in their jurisdictions.
This is clearly a castle doctrine case where a man was confronted by armed home invaders who came into his residence. Stand your provisions are not relevant, and the prosecutor should explain that to the media, as the case has now gained national attention.