Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Is this justice?
Read the following summary of a bizarre case out of the United States and tell me what you think. It certainly got our phone lines buzzing during my "Crime and Punishment" radio show this past weekend, with opinion pretty much split down the middle.Here's what happened:
Three men looking for drugs break into a home in the middle of the night, waking the sleeping family inside.Violence erupts when the homeowner and his stepson confront the intruders. The stepson is brutally beaten, and his father is able to grab a gun and open fire.
Two of the robbers are shot and killed. The third escapes, but is arrested by police a short time later.Police and prosecutors decide not to charge the homeowner for the two deaths, saying he had a right to defend his family and his property.The surviving robber is, of course, charged with the home invasion. As he should be.Now here's where this story gets a little strange.
In a truly remarkable development, suspect Renato Hughes is also hit with two counts of murder for the deaths of his co-accused.District Attorney Jon Hopkins concedes Hughes never physically laid a hand on the two deceased. But he said the Provocative Act law doesn't require prosecutors to prove there was an intenton to kill.Hughes was responsible for “setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices", he said.This case is generating a lot of controversy for the following reasons:
-The family victimized by the home invasion is white;-The three intruders are black;-The crime occurred in predominently white community.The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) complained prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes.
Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes’ church, went even further by saying the laying of murder charges shows the justice system is "racist."Brown was a guest on mine on the radio program Sunday night and questioned why Hughes is facing a double murder charge while the robbery victim who fired the fatal shots is walking free. Brown suggested the outcome would be different if it was a black homeowner killing two white intruders.Here's where I stand on this:
I don't believe the homeowner should be charged. He had every right to fight back as soon as thugs decided to invade his property and terrorize his family.But I do have a problem with pinning murder charges on the surviving intruder. Throw the book at him for the robbery and assault of the stepson, but going beyond that is taking a sharp detour from common sense in my opinion.As I said off the top, we took quite a few phone calls on this one and the public seemed pretty divided.So what do you think?
Should the intruder have been charged with murder? The homeowner? Nobody??Post your thoughts below.