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View Poll Results: You're on the jury. Do you acquit or convict based on the story below?
Acquit. A man's home is his castle. 18 24.66%
Convict. Send him up the river. 44 60.27%
I can't serve on a jury. I'm crazy, I'm telling you. CRAZY! 11 15.07%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-04-2013, 01:49 PM  
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Murder or Castle Doctrine?

A case not too far from my hometown.

http://www.therolladailynews.com/app...8&refresh=true

Slaying case may hinge on property rights


STEELVILLE, Mo. ó James Crocker had grown weary of the partying canoeists and rafters who encroached on his neatly kept property along Missouri's Meramec River. When he caught a man about to relieve himself on a gravel bar by his yard last month, a nasty confrontation ensued that ended with one person dead and Crocker accused of killing him.

The case against Crocker is the latest to put a spotlight on "castle doctrine" laws, which allow the use of deadly force to protect property. Missouri is among at least 30 states that have enacted the statutes, which supporters say protect gun rights but others insist promote vigilantism.

Crocker's attorney, Michael Bert of St. Louis, said that Crocker was defending himself and his property.

"Here's a man in fear for his life and fearful he might suffer bodily injury," Bert said.

Prosecutors see it differently. Witnesses who testified at a hearing this month said Crocker was angry and raging, shooting into the crowd of people, narrowly missing two others before killing 48-year-old Paul Dart Jr. of Robertsville, Mo. Crocker has been charged with second degree murder.
Even some supporters of the doctrine say the violence seemed avoidable.

"The smart thing is to back away, and nobody seemed to be willing to do that," said Kevin Jamison, an attorney who lobbied for Missouri's castle doctrine bill as a member of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance.

Crocker, a 59-year-old plastics plant worker with long hair and a thick goatee, lives in a small white frame home on a shaded gravel road about eight miles west of Steelville, the self-proclaimed floating capital of the world. Tens of thousands of people come to the region every year to raft, canoe or kayak down the Meramec and nearby rivers.

Drinking is sometimes part of the outings, resulting in bawdy behavior that doesn't sit well with owners of land that touches the river. Many have complained for years about loud parties, trash left behind and crude behavior.

Herb Smelser, 77, who lives three houses down from Crocker, said it isn't uncommon to find people using his yard as a restroom. The problem was so bad, he said, that he let his grass grow high to discourage trespassers.
Crocker, though, kept his yard trim and tidy ó "like a park," Smelser said. To keep out the unwanted, Crocker posted "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs along the hill that slopes down to a gravel area along the meandering river.

On July 20, Dart, a carpenter, and around four dozen other members of an extended family gathered at a campground for their annual float trip along the Meramec. A few hours into the trip, Robert and Regina Burgess stopped their canoe on a gravel bar. Robert, who had drunk about three beers, decided to relieve himself, he testified at the preliminary hearing.

Crocker confronted Burgess and other members of the party. When happened then is in dispute, and will be a crucial part of the case.

Burgess and his wife testified that Crocker was immediately agitated and aggressive, firing two shots in their direction ó Robert said one hit the ground near his feet. Another bullet hit Dart in the face.

Burgess said it was only after Dart was shot that members of the party picked up rocks to defend themselves against Crocker, who was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

"I'm standing there unarmed and the guy's got a gun," Burgess said.
Crocker didn't testify at the hearing, but his attorney gave a different account.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Bert said Crocker politely asked the float trip party to leave. "The response he got was angry and profane," Bert said.

Crocker and those in the float trip party argued over whether the gravel bar was public land or Crocker's. Eventually, the men picked up "softball-sized" rocks and began pelting Crocker, Bert said. He said Crocker suffered head injuries, then fired his gun to defend himself.

"When people say is this a case of the castle doctrine I say, 'yes, kind of,' but more importantly these people were armed with what I would consider weapons," Bert said.

Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper Joseph Peart testified that he saw no evidence that Crocker was injured.

Police said Crocker told them, "I just shot the one closest to me."

Whether or not the floaters were on Crocker's property may be an issue in the case since Missouri law isn't clear on where private property along a waterway begins. Some experts say it starts at the vegetation line; others say property rights extend to the center of a river or stream.

"That may be a critical question," said Jamison, of Kansas City, Mo. "If (Crocker) reasonably believed the man was on his property and he wasn't, I'm not sure that's enough."

Missouri's castle doctrine statute, enacted in 2007, gives residents a legal right to defend themselves and their property against intruders. Supporters of such laws cite a number of cases in which homeowners were able to fend off burglars or other criminals without fear of prosecution. But Florida's law gained notoriety after a neighborhood watch activist, George Zimmerman, fatally shot teen Trayvon Martin, and was acquitted of criminal charges.

A 2012 Texas A&M University study found that homicides ruled justifiable rose by 8 percent in states with "stand-your-ground laws.

In the Missouri case, Crawford County detective Zachary Driskill said he asked Crocker if he could have called police instead of taking matters into his own hands.

"I guess I could have, but it's my property and I was going to protect it," Crocker responded, according to case documents.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:42 PM   #31
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i'll also add that this article is the first I've read on this case where it mentions the old dude getting rocks chucked at him. I was under the impression they were all mouthing/threatening him.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:42 PM   #32
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There has to be a joke somewhere in this about a guy taking a leak at a bar...

Can the owner fence off the sandbar? Assuming property extends halfway across the water...
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:45 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
Can the owner fence off the sandbar? Assuming property extends halfway across the water...
I doubt it, even if the bolded part were true...

but the bolded part may not be true ( I personally don't think it is true....but it definitely a gray area fraught with legal problems)
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:46 PM   #34
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Based on appearances alone I would convict after seeing that picture.
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Quote:
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:46 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Pawnmower View Post
Eerily similar conceptually to the Trayvon Martin case....

Two morons who meet up and both do stupid shit.

No one HAD to die....but neither one backed off.

Shit keeps escalating......

Is it "murder" when both parties choose to escalate stuff to a violent level and then one party suddenly finds themselves defending their life?


In the TM vs. GZ case, the Jury said no, it is not murder.

Unless there is some sort of proof or evidence that this man came down to his sand bar looking to kill someone, it shouldnt be murder either. Maybe negligent homocide or manslaughter....MAYBE.
I like this perspective on TM
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #36
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Aren't the other witnesses viewed as biased since they're part of the dead guy's tribe? And depending on who you believe, active rock chuckers of the dead guy's tribe? If I was on a jury I'd discount them pretty heavily.
Yeah, they're going to have a bias, sure.

But who's more likely to lie here? The friends of the dead guy that have literally nothing on the line (and could potentially be subject to civil liability if the shooter walks and finds a creative plaintiff's attorney) or the dude who's going to jail for the rest of his life?

It's about weighing respective credibility at that point. If you have to choose one party or the other that's more likely to lie, aren't you going to go with the shooter? He damn sure has more riding on it.

The Jury's going to look at it initially just as you are - that's why the prosecutor has to rehab their credibility without overtly doing so.

In a he said/she said kind of case, it's all about relative biases. Is it enough to convict? Probably not - but given that there's unquestionably a dead guy and the shooter unquestionably shot him, the order of the story is all that's going to matter here. As such, determining the credibility of those witnesses is going to be the key thing for the jurors and the major job of the prosecution.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:48 PM   #37
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I canoe the rivers of southern MO a couple of times a summer. I've got my son with me, and we are fishing, so were pretty tame as floaters go. We do stop on sand bars all along the river to fish from them, eat lunch, or swim a bit. I've only once had a man come down and tell me that technically, I was on his land, but he didn't care.

I'm guessing the story lies somewhere in the middle, but it'll be a he said/he said type of thing where only the people there will really know what happened.

If a guy starts shooting at my friends and I, I'm not picking up rocks and throwing them at him, I'm running my ass away in a serpentine path.

I'll bet the drunk floaters didn't want to be told that they can't be there, argued, it escalated, stones got thrown, and he shot at them.

I'd probably acquit him based on the story above.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:49 PM   #38
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He came down to chase off some boaters that were taking a leak with a gun. There's only one reason you take a gun and aim it at someone taking a leak on your property.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pawnmower View Post
Eerily similar conceptually to the Trayvon Martin case....

Two morons who meet up and both do stupid shit.

No one HAD to die....but neither one backed off.

Shit keeps escalating......

Is it "murder" when both parties choose to escalate stuff to a violent level and then one party suddenly finds themselves defending their life?


In the TM vs. GZ case, the Jury said no, it is not murder.

Unless there is some sort of proof or evidence that this man came down to his sand bar looking to kill someone, it shouldnt be murder either. Maybe negligent homocide or manslaughter....MAYBE.
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:49 PM   #39
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
Can the owner fence off the sandbar? Assuming property extends halfway across the water...
Iím sure he could but how? Ever drive on a gravel bar, dig a hole in one? The water lever is just below the surface, thatís what makes river gravel one of the slickest substances to get stuck in.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #41
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I was just thinking that if thousands of people each year use that waterway for canoeing and rafting is that a new phenomenon or did it start after he had bought the property? I suspect it has been happening for a very long time prior to his arrival as owner. Maybe he should have considered that before the purchase..?? I also wonder if a single person has been ticketed for violating property rights around there for rafting in that waterway..?? Pertinent questions one would think..
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:50 PM   #42
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I call bullshit. A dude gets blasted with a 9mm and you pick up a rock and chuck it at the crazy motherfcucker with the gun? YOU RUN LIKE **** and take cover.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAH

Sorry pal, the rocks were thrown 1st, just admit it.
Where were they supposed to take cover? In the river?
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:51 PM   #43
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This is really a tough case. I'm glad I'm not on the jury.

If you're a landowner, it's got to be extremely frustrating when drunk people are repeatedly coming onto your property and messing it up. And after a moment's thought, I see the point where you should be able to take a gun with you to fend off trespassers.

But it seems like there should've been a better solution than shooting a guy. The odds that he was coming onto your property to intentionally cause harm is quite low.

You can't really fence off the property. He had signs posted, and that didn't work. You can't booby trap the place. Maybe you could install a water cannon or something, but that would undoubtedly cause escalation. The only thing I can think of is to inform them that you're videoing the area and will show their small genitalia on the Internet.

I initially thought this guy has to get convicted, but the more I think about it, self-defense could be a quite viable defense.

The real problem here is people getting drunk and not respecting property. If you could enforce that, you wouldn't have this problem. But there's not anywhere near the law enforcement manpower you'd need to enforce public drunkenness on the river in that part of the state.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #44
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Iím sure he could but how? Ever drive on a gravel bar, dig a hole in one? The water lever is just below the surface, thatís what makes river gravel one of the slickest substances to get stuck in.
plus, even if you did, the first time you had a small flood it'd wash it all out.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #45
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I doubt it, even if the bolded part were true...

but the bolded part may not be true ( I personally don't think it is true....but it definitely a gray area fraught with legal problems)
Don't know about MO but it is most definitely true in Kansas, been through this argument with law enforcement officers.
In fact if the land owner owns the property on both sides of the river that section of the river belongs to them.
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