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?
Total Voters: 423
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