Posted on 8/22/16

Nick walked up Paul’s driveway toward Paul’s modest house in North Dallas one evening. Nick advertised his at-home chiropractic services and Paul responded. Paul was elderly and had much difficulty leaving his house on days that his back hurt. Recently, Paul had been feeling significant back pain almost daily.

Paul initially called Nick when Paul saw Nick’s ad on Craigslist. On the phone, Nick assured Paul that Nick had all the tools to alleviate back pain, including cortisone shots. Furthermore, Nick guaranteed Paul that he would relieve the pain or give him his money back. Nick was so confident in his skills that Paul felt at ease paying Nick’s premium.

Per Paul’s phone instructions, Nick gave two knocks on the door and then entered the house. Once inside, he called to Paul. After thirty seconds, he heard a weak, elderly voice call to him, asking to go into his room.

Nick went into Paul’s room and saw Paul lying on his bed. Nick introduced himself as the chiropractor from Craigslist. Nick then took out his bag and started to set up his wares. Nick opened a portable chiropractic table and placed it next to Paul’s bed.

“Before we begin, I need payment of $400,” Nick said. “Do not be concerned, if you do not feel great after this session then I will refund you all the money. Also, I prefer a cash payment.”

Paul meekly reached into his pocket and pulled out four $100 bills. He gave them to Nick, hoping that Nick would do his magic. Paul was suffering from severe back pain.

“Are you able to get up and onto the table?” Nick asked Paul.

Paul responded that he needed some help. Slowly, Nick helped Paul get out of his bed and onto the chiropractic table. After a few minutes, Nick properly positioned Paul for chiropractic treatment.

Nick worked on Paul’s back for an hour. Despite Nick’s efforts, Paul continued to complain of back pain. Nick asked for a ten-minute break, promising to resume once he finished his break.

While Paul lay on the chiropractic table moaning in pain, Nick went to the living room. Once there, he turned on all the lights, pulled out a garbage bag, grabbed anything of value, and stuffed it into the garbage bag. After his ten-minute rampage, Nick returned to work on Paul.

Nick worked on Paul for another half hour. Paul nonetheless moaned in pain when Nick finished. Nick then took out a syringe filled with cortisone, attached a needle, and injected Paul’s back. Nick instructed Paul to remain in place for twenty minutes for the medicine to take effect.

At that point, Nick returned to the living room to finish looting the house. In the meantime, Paul’s pain worsened. Due to his worsening condition, he was so upset and full of adrenaline that he got his gun and planned to confront Nick. When Paul walked into the living room and saw Nick looting his house, Paul was so enraged that he shouted “thief” and fired a round of bullets, killing Nick.

The prosecution charged Paul with murder. Later, Paul learned that Nick was not a certified chiropractor and conducted a scam to steal from vulnerable people. Paul pleaded not guilty, reasoning that he was justified in killing Nick.

Legal Defense in Use of Deadly Force

The Texas Penal Code provides that deadly force to protect property is allowed when it is “to prevent the other’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime.”Texas case law has various examples.

In this instance, based on the language in the statute, Paul might not be found guilty because Nick acted as a thief in the nighttime, justifying Paul’s use of deadly force.

If you are accused of murder, contact the criminal defense law firm of Christopher Abel. We will aggressively defend your rights.

(image courtesy of Habys) 

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