CNN reports on the shooting death of a female car thief in Florida.
What happened was this: Tony Curtis Phillips, 29, and his girlfriend, Nikki McCormick, 21, decided to break into the garage and steal the SUV of Ladon "Jamie" Jones. When Mr. Jones heard the commotion he came running out of his house with a gun to stop the theft. He stopped it all right, with six or eight shots through the windshield, killing McCormick. Phillips fled and was later arrested.
Now here's where it get's interesting. The owner of the vehicle, Jones is not being charged with anything; Phillips, the fleeing boyfriend is being charged with second-degree murder.
Authorities said Jones is protected by Florida's "no retreat" law, which gives him the right to use lethal force if he reasonably believes his life is in danger.
Phillips, however, faces charges because police allege he was committing felony grand theft auto at the time of McCormick's death.
"Because his conduct caused her death, he gets charged with a felony," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Remember Lillo Brancato? He's the Soprano's actor who was cleared in the death of an off duty policeman but sentenced to 10 years for burglary. In his case, he and the shooter did a crime together and upon being discovered by the next-door neighbor who happened to be a cop, Lillo's partner in crime shot the cop dead. The courts decided Lillo was only guilty of the lesser crimes.
In the Florida case, it seems to be an even greater stretch to charge the boyfriend with murder. What do you think? Is this based upon the same principle of law, the accomplice liability theory?
What do you think about the SUV owner, Ladon Jones and his actions? Supposedly, he saw an arm extended outside the passenger side window which he thought might be a gun about to be raised at him. Also when he tried to stop the vehicle, he says it came directly at him, making the SUV itself a deadly weapon to which he responded with the lethal force which was his right under Florida law.
Wouldn't it have been better if he had stayed in the house and called the police? What is so difficult about accepting that? I can already hear the chorus of constitutionally backed protectors of private property and defenders of personal rights crying out that Jones was correct in what he did and the fault lies completely with the thieves Phillips and McCormick.
What's your opinion? Don't you think a bullet in the brain is a punishment just a little bit severe for car theft? I promised the last time we talked about one of these righteous shootings that I wouldn't compare it to the death penalty, to do so is just too inflammatory, but let's face it, dead is dead. I find the response to this crime disproportionately heavy. What about you?
Please leave a comment.
1) the truck was being driven right towards him, and did not stop.ReplyDelete
2) Meth-heads (yes, they were on meth, according to the report) do not have a license to steal the things we work hard to buy. How would you feel if a crackhead walked into your house and demanded your credit cards?
3) He didn't deliberately kill her--he stopped shooting when the truck wasn't going to run him over anymore. "execution" would have been shooting her when she was not a threat.
Ladon "Jamie" Jones is a murderer. It's that simple. A man that carries a 9 mm around with him is just waiting for any excuse to use it. He never saw a gun, was never in any danger, yet he by his own admission fired 6-8 rounds into the window of the SUV. The same SUV, found in a ditch the opposite direction from Jones. All we have is the word of a killer. I'd fry him myself given the oppourtunity!ReplyDelete
So glad that you are a psychic that you can tell exactly what motivation a person has in carrying a firearm.
Of course, you seem to have some of the facts wrong.
A man that carries a 9 mm around with him is just waiting for any excuse to use itHe may or may not carry it with him at all times. See the quote from the article
Jones told police he grabbed his gun, a 9mm that he keeps with him while working at the groveIf he had a carry permit, I'm sure they would have reported that. But regardless, a person is allowed to keep a firearm at their place of employment.
was never in any dangerAs far as looking for a reason to use it, it seems having two thieves steal his vehicle and try to run him down proves he had a reason. Again from the article
He said he raised his gun and pointed it at the occupants, shouting "Stop," but the vehicle appeared to be moving directly toward him.Hardly seems like the actions of a bloodthirsty person, eh? Sounds like he warned them and only when his life was threatened did he fire.
The same SUV, found in a ditch the opposite direction from Jones
Well, you got one portion right.
The vehicle backed up at high speed, crashed through a fence and ended up in a ditch. Jones told police a man jumped out of the SUV and ran away.fry him myself given the oppourtunity!Now who is just looking for an excuse to commit murder?
Isn't this a perfect case for shared responsibility that you are always going on about?
If the male criminal hadn't been there stealing the car, trying to run down the owner, he wouldn't have been involved in his girlfriend's death, right? Shouldn't he share in the responsibility for that death?
Also when he tried to stop the vehicle, he says it came directly at himNote that he tried to stop the vehicle with verbal commands first.
making the SUV itself a deadly weapon to which he responded with the lethal force which was his right under Florida law.You are right, it was a deadly weapon. Someone points a deadly weapon at you, you must take action. He did. He did it legally.
Let's not loose sight of the fact that this started with 2 people's decision to commit a crime. Who knows if that was the only crime they were planning.
Wouldn't it have been better if he had stayed in the house and called the police? What is so difficult about accepting that?That vehicle could represent the difference between being able to provide for his family or not. It could be literally what keeps his family in their house. I only have liability insurance on my vehicles...if they are stolen, I'm out of luck. I need my vehicles to keep my job. To FEED MY FAMILY. What would you do to keep your family from starving?
Also, criminals generally show a pattern of increasingly brazen and violence in their crimes.
Doesn't each person have a responsibility to society to try to stop crime? To try to limit the violence, the injury caused by criminals?
Who knows what could have happened the next time they decided to steal a car...they might have assaulted someone to get it.
Shouldn't the owner have used protectionary violence to stop the harm to society?
Don't you think a bullet in the brain is a punishment just a little bit severe for car theft? Nice way to be judge and jury to decide exactly what crimes were being committed!!
You forgot about the part where they tried to run him over--where they tried to kill him.
The murder charge is a head-scratcher. I won't even start trying to disentangle the legal justification, but morally? I don't see how it could be murder of any kind, since he didn't intentionally kill her. Even if he was responsible for her death, wouldn't that be manslaughter or negligent homicide? In any case, unless he _forced_ McCormick to try to steal the car, I have a hard time putting htis in the "shared responsibility" pile. They each chose to take a risk, and the consequences caught up with one of them. It doesn't seem to me that the "luckier" one is responsible for what happened to the "unluckier" one. I can't come up with any rational justification for charging Phillips with murder, unless Florida has some kind of "all homicide committed in the commission of a felony is murder" law, which has its own issues.ReplyDelete
Don't you think a bullet in the brain is a punishment just a little bit severe for car theft? [Comparing it to the death penalty] is just too inflammatory, but let's face it, dead is dead.
The problem with the comparison isn't that it's inflamatory, it's that it fails to take into account the difference between punishment and consequences. Harassing wildlife isn't a capital offense, but if I poke a bear I may still end up dead. Death isn't the _punishment_ for drunk driving, but it's often the _consequence_. Holding someone up at gunpoint or breaking into a house in the middle of the night aren't crimes for which we typically execute people, but they're very high-risk activities, and people who choose to engage in them may also end up facing consequences far worse than the legal punishment.
Personally, I agree that it would've been "better" for Jones to stay in the house and call the cops. It's certainly what I would've done; I generally do a pretty good job of choosing _not_ to enter potentially deadly situations (unlike these car thieves), and my car isn't worth breaking that streak.
That said, it isn't illegal in Florida to confront a tresspasser on your property, and I'm very uncomfortable with laws that make it illegal in other states. Assuming Jones's story is true, then McCormick chose to dramatically up the risks in the situation by trying to run him over. In that scenario, I have no legal or moral problem with Jones doing everything in his power to push as much of that risk as possible off himself and onto her. And really, that's the point of owning a defensive gun in the first place.
Michael, the defendant is charged with felony murder, a theory of murder that exists in every state as far as I know.ReplyDelete
Interestingly, though, in most states, he would not be able to be charged even though a death occurred during the commission of a felony. In the majority of states (at least as of 2001), felony murder does not apply if the death was the actual result of the lawful act of a third party. So if a participant in the crime is lawfully shot by a police officer or by a citizen in self-defense, the other parties to the criminal conspiracy are not criminally liable for the death.
It's possible Florida has not decided which camp it's in. Actually, in my experience it's also possible that Florida is in the majority with the lawful act of a third party rule and the charging DA either isn't aware of that rule or wants a court to change it.
"Phillips has been in the Polk County Jail on 11 prior occasions on charges such as grand theft auto, burglary of a structure, driving while license was suspended or revoked, fleeing to elude, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, petty theft, burglary of a conveyance, criminal mischief, grand theft, dealing in stolen property, loitering or prowling, resisting arrest and violation of probation."ReplyDelete
He was driving the car during the commission of a felony, and his passenger died. In most states, that's murder. In quite a few states, I think including Florida, it is a capital offense. He could get the death penalty.
Interestingly, it was McCormick's idea to steal something. A local version of the story is at
She won't be making that mistake again.
Michael, nice point about the difference between punishment and consequences. The life of a criminal is a dangerous one.
"Wouldn't it have been better if he had stayed in the house and called the police? What is so difficult about accepting that?"You're kidding right? If I hear someone in my garage my 1st instinct would be to check it out.ReplyDelete
Also, I'm in my home, thus I have every right to carry my gun out to the garage in such a situation. In fact, that's the responsible and prudent thing to do.
My car represents nearly a years salary in my case, so you're damn right I'm going to try to keep them from stealing it.
In delaware this would be a "good shoot" on several different levels, even though we don't have a "no retreat" law or the castle doctrine.
Also, the article talks about the no-retreat law, but it really had no bearing on this case whatsoever.
A car moving directly towards you IS a deadly threat and does justify the use of deadly force under the law. He didn't execute anyone, he stopped a threat. Now had he chased after the other guy and gunned him down I'd be right with you calling for him to go to prison.
"unless Florida has some kind of "all homicide committed in the commission of a felony is murder" law, which has its own issues. "ReplyDelete
Some states do have laws like this. If you and your buddy go rob a bank and he gets shot, you can be charged with his death.
Thanks for the law info. I wish I knew more about criminal liability standards in such irregular situations. I hope they are not too byzantine for even prosecutors to understand!
That is how it is here. If I commit a crime, and someone dies, or even if my partner in crime commits the murder, I get charged with it as well. I really have no problem with it.ReplyDelete
"Wouldn't it have been better if he had stayed in the house and called the police?" Did you know that within two hours of a vehicle arriving at a chop shop, it can be completely disassembled, and shipped out? So, I can understand why he did not stay in the house and wait for the police. Also given some of your thoughts on the police, and my personal experiences, 40 minutes for them to respond if you are lucky, I would have went outside as well.
"Don't you think a bullet in the brain is a punishment just a little bit severe for car theft?" Not really, if Jones thought the robbers where armed, and they ran at him with the SUV, I will stand behind the authorities.
Now onto responses to some comments.
STH396: "Ladon "Jamie" Jones is a murderer." In a sense yes he is. He took another persons life. But, in a way, if you have ever gone hunting and bagged something, or had to put something down, you are as well.
STH360: "A man that carries a 9 mm around with him is just waiting for any excuse to use it." I carry a Colt Delta Elite when I am at work. I, like so many who carry, pray every time we get it, that we never have to use it. We also thank god every time we put it up, that we did not have to use it. That generalization is ignorant, and lumps people who carry for self protection into the criminal element.
STH360: "He never saw a gun, was never in any danger, yet he by his own admission fired 6-8 rounds into the window of the SUV." There are two living people who know exactly what happened, and one knows what he saw or did not see. We have to take the word of those who were present. If he thought he saw a gun, and the SUV ran at him, he was in the right to defend himself.
STH360: "I'd fry him myself given the opportunity!" I will say, if there were charges to be brought, he has a right to be tried. If he happened to be found guilty, and the death penalty was assigned, that would be one thing. Since he will not be tried, that is a moot issue.
MikeW: "My car represents nearly a years salary in my case, so you're damn right I'm going to try to keep them from stealing it." Try almost three years for mine. Given the ease of which it is to break down even an F-150, I can imagine how long the SUV would have taken. Now, one other point that I have not noticed, what if they had taken the SUV, and caused a death, stole or did property damage. Look at the cost to Jones.
Thanks for the great comments everybody.ReplyDelete
sth360 pretty much sees it like I do, without all the pussyfooting around. I don't think every gun owner falls into the category described by Malakh, "pray every time we get it, that we never have to use it." Probably, there are many who are not quite as bad as sth360 says, but who would love the opportunity of doing a righteous shooting and afterwards wearing it like a feather in their cap.
What percentage is that, I wonder?
As justified as Mr. Jones was, given what we know now, wouldn't it have been better if he'd stayed in the house? Is the death of a 21-year old car thief so meaningless?
I'm like Michael. Even if I owned guns, I'd have stayed in the house.
Why don't you address the aspect that typically criminals don't stop committing crimes and their crimes typically get more violent?
You avoid that aspect and the responsibility owed to society to stop crime.
You accuse the citizen of killing in cold blood, questioning his account of the story but accept the story of the criminals with nary a doubt. Guess we know which side you are on.
Agreed. The sample of their criminal records didn't tell us if their crimes had escalated, but it's clear that they were well-known to the police and courts.ReplyDelete
How long till they decided to mug an old lady to pay for their meth? How long till they killed someone?
Much as we dislike doing so, at a certain point every citizen has a duty to prevent and discourage criminal activity.
There are a number of rather sick people who would enjoy it, but we can't use that fact to question the motives of all defensive-firearm owners. Most simply feel the obligation to protect their family, property, and community.
Bob and Bruce, You guys seem to be violating one of your own favorite rules, innocent until proven guilty. All this talk of escalating criminal acts seems to come very close to wanting to punish them for what they might do in the future. Isn't that what you accuse me of with my insistence that some percentage of lawful gun owners will go bad? You've said that my asking for gun restrictions based on that is like punishing people for what they haven't done yet. It sounds like you want to have it both ways, or that your picking and choosing.ReplyDelete
According to our law, punishment can only be meted out by the justice system. Harm committed in self-defense isn't punishment--it's a violent response to prior violence, which is committed outside the reach of the law. Violent acts are mute, in that only a coercive physical response can be used to stop them. Thus, those who suffer from violence are under no obligation to respond to their assailants as they would toward a law-abiding citizen.ReplyDelete
Once the state establishes control over a situation, it may only use violence to mete out punishment in accordance with the law. This is why a police officer can shoot an armed and dangerous subject, not a handcuffed one, but the courts can execute a defenseless convicted criminal (distasteful as that is).
For this reason, the state cannot "punish" gun owners as they would criminals, as law-abiding gun owners have not broken the peace.
Note that neither Bob nor I are advocating laws that allow you to kill people for "looking like a criminal." If we had, you would be entirely correct. I, at least, only support laws that allow an appropriate response to violent acts currently in progress, including violence though attacks on one's property.
I don't want to offend you, but the idea that one has an obligation not to use violence in self defense--simply because such violence would not be appropriate as punishment--translates easily into "rape victims should just lay there until their attacker is done."
The motivation of the people acting in defense of themselves or their property does not matter--their actions are legal regardless. I just find it rather sickening that some people glorify killing, and call it justice. I wish those people didn't have guns, but cannot legally do anything about it.
Woo, that got long. Good thing I'm away from my library, or there'd be a dozen bloody quotes as well. :D
Oh, and Mike, I forgot to thank you for running such a well moderated discussion.ReplyDelete
Normally these debates devolve into "no, YOU'RE more like Hitler!" within the first ten posts.
Bob and Bruce, You guys seem to be violating one of your own favorite rules, innocent until proven guilty.Sorry but that isn't accurate at all (trying to avoid saying you are WRONG).
What I am saying is that we have to confront the crime in progress because it is a crime. Unless criminals are stopped they tend to continue to escalate their crimes. I'm not trying to say they are guilty of future crimes, I 'm saying that is the existing pattern.
As far as guilty until proven innocent....when someone is trying to steal my car---THEY ARE GUILTY. I don't need to prove it, they've proved it with their own actions.
All this talk of escalating criminal acts seems to come very close to wanting to punish them for what they might do in the future.See above, MikeB you are starting to have pro-ignorance reading comprehension failures. I never said I wanted to punish them for what they might due.
What I'm trying to get you to recognize is that people have a responsibility to society to stop crimes in progress. Would you agree with that idea?
The reason people have that responsibility is two-fold. 1-Crime is wrong and should be stopped where practical and 2 - criminals tend to escalate the violence in their crimes so it makes since to stop criminals as soon as possible.
. Isn't that what you accuse me of with my insistence that some percentage of lawful gun owners will go bad?Let's see what could be the difference between a gun owner who might go bad and a criminal committing a crime? I know...one is already breaking the law and it isn't the gun owner.It sounds like you want to have it both ways, or that your picking and choosing.That is a differing of opinions. I don't see it as having both ways. Seriously MikeB I'm not picking a group of people and saying they might commit a crime someday so let's hold them at gun point am I?
No, I'm talking about individuals knowing their rights, contributing to society by confronting criminals and stopping crimes in progress instead of waiting inside for the police.
Bruce said, "I, at least, only support laws that allow an appropriate response to violent acts currently in progress, including violence though attacks on one's property."Is it appropriate to kill someone who is trying to steal your property but not threatening your life?ReplyDelete
Bob says, "when someone is trying to steal my car---THEY ARE GUILTY. I don't need to prove it, they've proved it with their own actions."I know you're a hard man, Bob, but is it OK to kill someone who is trying to steal your car if they're not threatening your life?ReplyDelete
That's a tough one. When do attacks on one's property become equivalent to attacks on one's person? Stealing the last of a homeless person's food would certainly count. How about an old person's oxygen supply? Their wheelchair? Their false teeth? Can we really make laws that will properly distinguish between these cases?ReplyDelete
Besides, the idea that property is less valuable and inviolable than life is a modern notion, borne of the incredible wealth that so many people take for granted. Just remember that some people might not be able to replace the things you judge to be "merely objects."
Particularly in situations where a "reasonable" response could result in your death (you say "stop" so they shoot you, which happens too often), we can't really set hard and fast rules about what is appropriate and what is not.
We _definitely_ can't prevent people from using lethal force in _any_ situation, _ever_, as some would like to do.
That said, the burden of proof on claims of excessive force should be on the person whose actions triggered the violent response. Part of the support for that claim lies in your good reputation in the community, something which these meth-heads didn't have. The truth is, if the jury would say "they were asking for it," they probably were, callous as that sounds.
Bob, but is it OK to kill someone who is trying to steal your car if they're not threatening your life?Ever wonder why people used to be allowed to kill horse thieves?
It was because people recognized without the transportation, a person couldn't live.
In Texas it is legal to kill someone to recover your property.
Is it moral? I wouldn't kill unless my life was in danger, but I can only tell you what I would do I can not and will not tell you that others who make a different decision are wrong.
That piece of property is hours out of a person's life. Median salary in America is around $30,000 a year...a little under $15 an hour. A low end car costs around $9,000 or 600 hours out of a person's life.
That is 600 hours that the criminal made the owner his/her slave!! Is it morally acceptable to kill to end slavery? Then is it equivalent to kill to stop a thief?
Michael, the defendant is charged with felony murder, a theory of murder that exists in every state as far as I know.ReplyDelete
Ah, I should've read this before replying to the followup thread. :)
I obviously had a flawed understanding of the legal definition of murder. Thanks for clearing it up. As always, it's great to have somebody on hand with specialist knowledge of tha topic.