Poll Position: Was a Texas man right to beat his daughter’s attacker to death?

While we await the trial of George Zimmerman for fatally shooting Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, another sure-to-be high-profile case involving self-defense and a killing arose in Texas.

Last Saturday in Shiner, a small town best known to the rest of us for the beers that bear its name, a father beat to death a man whom he caught sexually assaulting his young daughter. CNN.com has the details:

According to the Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office, the 23-year-old father and his family were enjoying a barbecue last Saturday at their ranch on Shiner’s outskirts where they keep horses and chickens.

His young daughter had gone off toward the barn, to feed the chickens, the child’s grandfather — who isn’t being named, to protect the identity of his granddaughter — told CNN affiliates KSAT and KPRC.

Then her father heard screaming and ran. He found a 47-year-old man in the act of sexually abusing his daughter, according to Sheriff Mica Harmon.

The father stopped the alleged abuser, then pounded him repeatedly in the head.

The alleged abuser was pronounced dead on the scene. The CNN article adds that the father himself called 911, not thinking the man would die from his injuries, and that the sheriff said the father “appeared ‘very remorseful’ ” that the man did die.

Was the Texas father in the right when he beat to death a man sexually assaulting his daughter?

  • Yes (386 Votes)
  • No (22 Votes)
  • I don't know (15 Votes)

Total Voters: 423

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Most people probably would feel remorse for taking another’s life. But then again, many people can understand the rage of a father who found his daughter (press reports have variously put her age at 4 years old and 5 years old) being molested by a grown man. Asked if the father would face charges, the sheriff told reporters: “You have a right to defend your daughter. He acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed, we will submit it to the district attorney, who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him.”

For a moment, let’s play lawmaker instead of lawyer or law enforcer. Rather than figure out whether the father should face charges or has a good defense under Texas law, let’s instead ask: What should be the law in this case?

We easily could ask about non-parents as well: With the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky going on right now, we could ask whether the assistant coach who says he caught Sandusky abusing a young boy in the shower would have been in the clear had he forcibly intervened and Sandusky wound up dead. But to avoid endless permutations, let’s stick to the facts of the Texas case, as we know them: A father finds his daughter being sexually abused by another man, he beats the man, and the man dies from his injuries.

Was this Texas father in the right?

That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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108 comments Add your comment

iggy

June 15th, 2012
9:32 am

Was this Texas father in the right? ABSOLUTELY!

Jefferson

June 15th, 2012
9:35 am

The father did what he had to, no charges should be pressed.

St Simons- island off the coast of New Somalia

June 15th, 2012
9:36 am

Yes.

This concludes another episode of short answers to silly questions.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
9:37 am

Frankly, Kyle, there should be less law in this situation. Too often we rely on others for the protection of our loved ones, and in many cases it simply kicks the can down the road to become someone else’s problem; either the taxpayers in legal and incarceration costs, or a repeat offender doing the same thing again once he or she gets out (or gets off).

I have no problem with this swift and sure form of justice.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
9:37 am

It’s W’s fault….

@@

June 15th, 2012
9:38 am

His intent wasn’t to murder, but he was willing to risk losing his own life (death penalty) in defense of his daughter. I vote YES!

I’d run that risk even if the child wasn’t mine.

Personally, I think Sandusky oughta get the death penalty. A disgusting predator!

Vince Wilson

June 15th, 2012
9:40 am

This is a very dumb question. Of course, the father was right. Plus, he didn’t actually beat the guy to death; the guy died from the injuries. It may seem like splitting hairs, but in this case it simply means that the father gave the pervert a severe beating with no intent to kill. He was well within his right to do that!

Neva Maynard

June 15th, 2012
9:40 am

If the daughter had died they would just have give him a sex abuser fine and turned him loose to that to another woman. In my opion the beating was deserved.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
9:42 am

I think Sandusky oughta get the death penalty.

Unbelievable that authorities did a sting on Sandusky, got him on tape, but never charged him – he molested 6 more boys before they finally took him in.

1961_Xer

June 15th, 2012
9:42 am

It is perfect temporary insanity plea. If I caught someone sexually assaulting my 4 year old daughter, I would not stop inflicting pain until I thought the perp could no longer feel pain. That means I would beat him until he was unconscious or dead.

Old timer

June 15th, 2012
9:44 am

Yes, the father did the right thing…

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 15th, 2012
9:45 am

And frankly, I would have double-tapped the pervert in his privates, then shifted targets to his forehead after he had a few minutes of writhing on the ground in excruciating pain.

James

June 15th, 2012
9:47 am

Yes he had the right to protect this child from the pervert. Now we know he wont be able to assault another child. We need to get the perverts off the streets

Stonethrower

June 15th, 2012
9:49 am

Let’s put in an added twist. What if the accused was a close male relative which happens in the majority cases of molestation.

carlosgvv

June 15th, 2012
9:51 am

I have a grown daughter and two young granddaughters. If I caught any man trying to rape my daughter or granddaughters, I would beat him to a pulp. And, I would not be “vey remorseful”.

Of course, in this day and age where the law and politics shifts like a loose cannon between being insanely liberal to insanely conservative, there’s no telling what a the law would do.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 15th, 2012
9:53 am

I don’t think you could actually control yourself in that situation. If he had marched him outside the barn and shot him, yeah, maybe manslaughter, but in the course of separating the two, you get a little carried away, certainly justified. Shooting him would have been too quick anyway, he needed beating to death.

As Finn points out above, you just can not always depend on our injustice system, to render justice. Sad, but true, calling the police, is often counter productive to justice.

Jefferson

June 15th, 2012
9:58 am

The coach who saw the shower act should have intervened and stopped it or wore a butt whoopin’ trying. Some things are wrong and there is no doubt about it, much like bullying — preying on the weak.

Don't Tread

June 15th, 2012
9:59 am

iggy +1

Scumbag got what he deserved. I hope it hurt. And I heard somewhere that hell is a very hot place.

Taipei Personality

June 15th, 2012
10:00 am

1961 is right – this is easily covered under temporary insanity. Not sure many people could stop themselves from going thru with what he did. Only if a 3rd party was there to intervene could I see this going differently.

@@

June 15th, 2012
10:00 am

Finn:

Anybody who had knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior and did nothing about it should, at the very least, do hard time.

Stonethrower:

A close male relative? Death penalty.

O.K., I’ve “killed” and imprisoned enough folks for one day.

I’ve a trip planned to Noah’s Ark.

fair and balanced

June 15th, 2012
10:06 am

It is Obama’s fault that 47 year old sex abusers are out there terrorizing little girls.

Aquagirl

June 15th, 2012
10:10 am

Well, he was wrong to beat him in the head because that was probably too quick of an exit for creepy molester guy.

Skip

June 15th, 2012
10:11 am

A trial might have been a good idea. Then again you might just believe everything a killer says.

dad

June 15th, 2012
10:12 am

I am the father of three girls and one boy. I do understand the father reaction seen his daughter being sexually abused. However, working as an investigator I would be concerned of excessive force. Think if a police officer had seen it and had killed that man,everyone would be screaming the officer used excessive force.

a dad

June 15th, 2012
10:15 am

Will be an interesting story to follow. Texas is pretty hardcore when it comes to “frontier-style justice,” so I will be surprised if the father is charged. There is no question, legally, as to whether the father had the right to intervene and stop the assault, but a legal question arises as to when his intervention was suffifcient to stop the assault. If the father continuned to beat the man, say, after he was unconcious and incapacitated, then charges could be filed along the lines of manslaughter. Now, finding a jury to convict him, well, that’s another story and good luck with that.
As for this father of 2 daughters, a former martial artist, boxer, vet, etc., I can say unequivocally that I most probably would killed the attacked too, but it would have been a much shorter, and probably more vicous, attack. Couple punches and maybe a kick in the throat and that’s all she wrote folks.

Aquagirl

June 15th, 2012
10:20 am

Think if a police officer had seen it and had killed that man,everyone would be screaming the officer used excessive force.

We allow police special authority and training. In exchange, they’re supposed to act in a professional and controlled manner. So there’s a reason for the different standards.

Centrist

June 15th, 2012
10:21 am

I doubt he will be indicted. If he goes to a jury trial, the jury will be out less than a half hour (2 minutes to elect a foreman, 2 more minutes to vote on the charges, and up to 28 minutes to fill out the not guilty paperwork).

JDW

June 15th, 2012
10:21 am

Yep he was right…frankly I wouldn’t feel any remorse whatsoever in that situation.

get out much?

June 15th, 2012
10:24 am

Interesting how the victim goes from “attacker” in the title to “alleged abuser” in third paragraph. A father does have the right to defend his daughter, however since the nature of the abuse was not disclosed, I will reserve judgement on whether the father’s actions were justified.

Regarding Jerry Sandusky, I am amazed how little interest there seems to be in the fact that the District Attorney, Ray Gricar (who disappeared in 2005), failed to bring charges when allegations surfaced in 1998.

Rose

June 15th, 2012
10:30 am

Was the Texas father right? Hell, yes. Thank God he was there to help his very young child!

skipper

June 15th, 2012
10:30 am

Nobody will indict this guy….period. He did what he had to do……end of story.

K Mom

June 15th, 2012
10:30 am

@a dad, I am a current martial artist and, even though a part of our creed is “self control”, I may have tried out every possible strike, kick, and punch on the guy! I have two sons and the Sandusky case has made me realize that its not just little girls we have to warn anymore! No one wants to take another’s life, however, I don’t know if it could be avoided in this case. When it comes to your children, you will try to move Heaven and Earth to protect them!

Taipei Personality

June 15th, 2012
10:30 am

get out much…says right in article she was being sexually assaulted. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone to attack a sexual attack by any means necessary, and age of victim does not matter. Especially heinous with it being a child though.

ByteMe

June 15th, 2012
10:32 am

Texas is fine putting mentally retarded people to death. There’s no way they bother to indict.

The law as currently written gives the accused a lot of ways to defend himself in court, from temporary insanity to defending your family from harm. Either way, a politically minded prosecutor looking to move up the ladder isn’t going to waste political capital on this case.

Now if he had NOT seen the attack in progress and heard about it after and beat the guy to death… that’s a different story, and more likely to be prosecuted.

6th Commandment

June 15th, 2012
10:35 am

I have to come down on the side that killing someone is wrong, period, even in a case where I want to say “of course it’s fine.” Was the rather RIGHT in doing it? No. Was it understandable? Yes. The guy should have been sent to jail where, no doubt, he would have gotten some of the same treatment he was giving out.

Peadawg

June 15th, 2012
10:37 am

“Was this Texas father in the right?”

Absolutely. Protect your daughter.

SBinF

June 15th, 2012
10:40 am

A bit of a scary thought, where does it end? There is obviously a lot that’s being withheld, but I tend to err on the side of not killing people.

K Mom

June 15th, 2012
10:41 am

@6th Commandment, while I understand what you are saying, I do not believe the intent of this father was to take someone’s life! The other side of this situation is the consequence of the act committed by the person who assaulted the child!

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 15th, 2012
10:42 am

Locking down that Hispanic vote! Wooot!

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and have since led law-abiding lives.

Skip

June 15th, 2012
10:45 am

Fact, no one has ever been falsely accused of a sex crime.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 15th, 2012
10:46 am

The father had every right to stop the rape and drive off the attacker. If his intent was to kill the guy, I think that would be wrong, but nearly impossible to prove.

Jimmy62

June 15th, 2012
10:46 am

There should be some investigation for sure. How do we know the guy was really sexually abusing the girl? That’s really my only question. If there’s evidence to prove that he was, then the father is completely justified. But temporary insanity is not a defense in this case. The father, if he’s telling the truth, was completely rational and sane in his decision to beat the crap out of his daughter’s attacker.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 15th, 2012
10:47 am

Skip: Fact, no one has ever been falsely accused of a sex crime.
——-

Duke lacrosse case.

Too easy.

claytondawg

June 15th, 2012
11:15 am

@Jimmy62…You had an interesting comment: “How do we know the man was sexually abusing the girl.” I know you mean well; however, let’s put it this way. Why would a 47 year old want to be in a barn with a little girl, and with no other person around? This time, justice really was swift and served well.

Skip

June 15th, 2012
11:17 am

Barry, you missed my sarcasm, but that does prove my point.

Texas Gravy

June 15th, 2012
11:20 am

Sexual predators should be immesitaley killed publicly in the most inhumane way possible.

VBC

June 15th, 2012
11:27 am

Touch my children, touch my wife, and you risk your life. The man was defending his family and should not face charges.

Logical Dude

June 15th, 2012
11:29 am

I say “no” only because “to death” is in the question.

I would have done the exact same thing as the father, and felt the exact same way (remorseful) that the attacker died.

However, it shouldn’t be murder, but possibly the lowest form of manslaughter. (if there is one in Texas?)

If we value life, we should value ALL life, even the lives of the “worst of us”. . . because once you devalue some life, all life becomes devalued.

Dusty

June 15th, 2012
11:31 am

Do we need a poll position on this one to get an answer? I don’t think so. A 47 year old man raping a five year old girl is killed by the child’s father? Justice has been rendered..

As to Sandusky, is castration for predators still illegal? We need to change the law.

Darth Hater

June 15th, 2012
11:32 am

If the rapist looked like 0bama, the way Trayvon looks like “0bama’s Son,” this Texas grandfather could likely be charged with a [gasp!] “Hate Crime.”