Missouri Castle Doctrine legally protects homeowner who shoots man on his property

Missouri Castle Doctrine

A man recovering from a gunshot wound is now facing multiple charges after he's caught peering in to a Maries County home. 

Walter Gray was shot around 6:15 p.m. Saturday at a home in Vienna off Highway 63. 

It's a perfect example of Missouri's Castle Doctrine at work. Under the law, the homeowner had a legal right to defend himself after the person trespassing came at him in a threatening manner. 

"It was the ex-boyfriend who showed up at the house. They wife had an ex-parte against the boyfriend. They [the husband and wife] heard some commotion outside and the husband grabs his 12-gauge shot gun....when he confronted Mr. Gray...Mr. Gray allegedly came towards him at which time the homeowner shot Mr. Gray," Sheriff Chris Heitman with the Maries County Sheriff's Department tells ABC 17 News. 

Sheriff Heitman says the use of deadly force should always be a last resort. However, he hopes Missouri's law will help deter criminals if they know a person has a legal right to shoot them. 

"The only people that should be afraid are the criminals," Sheriff Heitman says. "If you're in fear of your life you have a right to use deadly force." 

One important distinction in the Castle Doctrine--if a person retreats then the person who was threatened does not have a right to go after them. 

"If someone was on your property and you confront them and they take off running--that's a totally different circumstance," Sheriff Heitman says. "You can't just unjustly shoot someone in the back and absolutely you would be charged with a crime then...just because someone's on your property doesn't give you the right to shoot them." 

Sheriff Heitman says the homeowner meant to shoot Gray in the leg, but he ended up shooting him in the groin, which can often be deadly. He credits Deputy Kilmer, a former Army Ranger Medic, with saving Gray's life. 

Missouri expanded the Castle Doctrine as well as the Stand Your Ground law during the most recent legislative session. The Stand Your Ground law allows a person to use deadly force in self-defense without a duty to retreat. The Castle Doctrine was expanded to include the guest of a homeowner. Both of those changes went into effect in October. 

At this time, charges have not been filed against Walter Gray. Deputies he could be charged with assault in the 3rd degree. 

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