No charges yet in deadly shooting

March 11, 2008 4:29:39 PM PDT
Joe Horn reportedly shot and killed two men breaking into his neighbor's home last November. Nearly four months later, Horn hasn't been charged with any crime. Eyewitness News has learned, however, that could change in just weeks.The shooting led to a heated debate about the use of deadly force, and more specifically when a homeowner has the right to use it. The prosecutor handling the case told Eyewitness News the district attorney's office is conducting its own investigation.

It's not uncommon for the DA's office to get a case and do additional investigation. Some cases do take longer to get to the grand jury. But at least one legal expert thinks there may be other reasons for the delay.

Nearly four months ago, gunfire erupted in a Pasadena neighborhood, killing two men and sparking a national debate. Did the man accused of pulling the trigger go too far, and did he have the right to protect his neighbor's property? Even though the police investigation is over, those questions may not be answered for a while.

"Sometimes cases take a little bit longer," explained Assistant District Attorney Lynne Parsons.

Joe Horn, the man accused of pulling the trigger, goes uncharged. Parsons now has the case.

She said, "We have many reports that have been submitted to us. We are reviewing those, as well as waiting for some additional information that we have requested."

Parsons cannot talk about specific evidence. However, she explains, investigators with the DA's office are preparing reports and gathering information.

When exactly prosecutors will present that information to the grand jury remains unclear. It certainly won't happen this month. And they also have to decide if they will recommend any charges against Horn.

KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy points out, charges or not, an indictment against Horn is unlikely, and a conviction is even more improbable.

"This is a defense lawyer's dream type of case, because you'll never get 12 people to say that he acted inappropriately," Androphy said.

Androphy believes that's part of the reason prosecutors have yet to present their evidence to a grand jury and push for an indictment against Horn.

He said, "Obviously, what's taking so long is the DA's office probably does not want to charge Mr. Horn because they don't think he committed a crime, or they don't think they'll get a conviction, which is the most important thing."

So when will the grand jury hear the case? Possibly next month. Parsons says she doesn't expect it to take much longer than that.

The state's castle doctrine gives homeowners the right to protect themselves and their property using deadly force. That includes a business, car, or home. The law was changed in September of last year. Homeowners no longer have to try and get away.

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