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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, 12:49 PM  
Rain Man Rain Man is offline
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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. — 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 — "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 — 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, 02:22 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by loochy View Post
Castle Doctrine....as opposed to the Cassel Doctrine, in which goofy dudes pick up rocks and throw them, but overthrow the target by 10 feet every time.
When I saw the thread title I assumed that Rain Man was referring to the fact that even though they attempted to pelt the homeowner with rocks, none of them threw accurately enough, far enough, or with great enough force to injure him. Or perhaps they just folded under the pressure of the pistol formation.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:32 PM   #62
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I'm all for property rights for the land owner, but you can't shoot someone for taking a piss.

The behavior of too many floaters is ruining it for most, especially families. We used to go every year as a kid, but I'm not interested in subjecting my kids to the behavior on those rivers the past several years.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:34 PM   #63
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In a way the rafters might have been lucky. I mean Crocker could have grabbed his brother-in-law, followed them for a ways, and made a couple of them squeal like a pig...
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:35 PM   #64
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you ugly, uh uh you ugly
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #65
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The property issue is actually interesting too...

Here's my (very basic) take on it...

You would be better off NOT owning to the middle of the river...for it doesnt do you any good other than placing you at a greater risk of liability and need of insurance.

You cant build or control anything in the middle of the river anyway, because of the easement laws, so "owning" to the middle of the river is basically meaningless......Unless I am not thinking of something...like maybe if the river dries up? I dunno....but just looking at the river itself, theres almost no reason to 'want' to be the owner of the middle of the river in my mind.

I know this is a total tangent, but my mind wanders....

LOL
Oh I agree. In my experience it’s just an excuse for grouchy old assholes to act like an asshole, which I assume gives them some weird pleasure.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:38 PM   #66
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Yeah, but does that mean there is right to exclude all use of the water flowing through? I don't think so. I can't recall the term, but it is similar to an easement, where the pubic can't be excluded from utilizing the water flowing through.
I was once shot at while float fishing on the Neosho river for this very reason. When I complained to police I was told that I should stay away from that guys section of the river in the future.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:39 PM   #67
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Like I said, in 30 years of floating several of the rivers of Missouri, including the Meremac, I've only been aproached by a landowner once, and the guy was totally cool because we were just standing there fishing. Often times, the floaters have very loud music, are swearing like sailors, and are drunk as shit. I'm not saying what the guy did was right, but I'm sort of surprised it took this long for it to happen.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:40 PM   #68
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A 2012 Texas A&M University study found that homicides ruled justifiable rose by 8 percent in states with "stand-your-ground laws.
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well, duh. I'm not saying the guy in case was in the right, but I'm sure the rise in homicides was due to scumbags being in a place where they shouldn't have been, or were intentionally aggressive towards the person with the firearm.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:41 PM   #69
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if it were on the Niangua, it would've been categorized as a Walk Trip, seeing how the water is an inch deep
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:46 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Radar Chief View Post
I was once shot at while float fishing on the Neosho river for this very reason. When I complained to police I was told that I should stay away from that guys section of the river in the future.

"That guy shot me in three places."

"Well, don't go back to those places next time."
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #71
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Fry this ****er
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:54 PM   #72
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"That guy shot me in three places."

"Well, don't go back to those places next time."
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:55 PM   #73
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Dude was only on his third beer during a canoe trip? that's a lie.

Back to reading...
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:56 PM   #74
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I've learned not to believe shit I read in the paper or see on the news at this point.
Yeah I bet there isn't even a river to "canoe" on.

Buncha bullshit.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:58 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Iowanian View Post
I'm all for property rights for the land owner, but you can't shoot someone for taking a piss.

The behavior of too many floaters is ruining it for most, especially families. We used to go every year as a kid, but I'm not interested in subjecting my kids to the behavior on those rivers the past several years.
Last time we floated the Elk River near Noel, MO they were trying to clean that up, handing out hefty fines for drug use, exposing yourself.
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