- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who authorities say was caught rummaging through a car in St. Louis for pocket change could test Missouri’s castle doctrine.

In a prepared statement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said the case was a “terrible tragedy” and that “Missouri law regarding a homeowner’s right to protect himself and his property is complicated.”

It allows for the use of deadly force when people encounter intruders in homes and vehicles.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1HDk84b ) reports prosecutors said Monday that they are reviewing the case. According to police, Martinez Smith-Payne and two other boys were stealing from an unlocked vehicle around 12:45 a.m. Sunday when a 60-year-old man confronted them and shot Martinez. The 13-year-old was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man was arrested, but released after prosecutors did not charge him.

The boy’s mother, Frances Smith-Woods, says her son was a seventh-grade student at Confluence Elite Academy in St. Louis. She also said she hopes to get the 60-year-old man’s side of the story.

According to Peter Joy, a professor at Washington University Law School in St. Louis, said not enough of the facts of the case are known about the case to say of the doctrine could be used as a defense. Joy says the homeowner does not have to retreat from an intruder, and the crux is if the homeowner is put in fear of “unlawful force.”

Kevin Jamison, a lawyer from Gladstone who lobbied for the passage of the castle doctrine, says that to successfully invoke the doctrine one needs to prove “that you did not start the fight, and you had to have a reasonable belief that you needed to shoot to save yourself.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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