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January 14, 2017

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Don't Talk to the Media

January 14, 2017

 

"I tried to kill him.  Anybody break in on me and I'm gonna kill 'em.  Either he's gonna kill me or I'm gonna kill him."

 

 

You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.  

 

"I tried to kill him.  Anybody break in on me and I'm gonna kill 'em.  Either he's gonna kill me or I'm gonna kill him."  That's what Rebbie Roberson of Bowie County, Texas recounted in an interview with KSLA News 12 in Shreveport LA (link to original story here).  In the news video, she made statements that could be used against her by an aggressive prosecutor.  Her story didn't seem 100% cohesive, though I will admit that could be the way the news story was edited.  It certainly didn't benefit her to talk to the media, however.  Your Miranda rights do not just apply to statements that you make to police - they apply to statements you make to anyone, including the media.

 

The quote that "I tried to kill him" could be used an admission of malice for a charge of attempted murder.  It was an intentional, willful act to cause the intruder's death, according to her own words.  Furthermore, (if she had been successful at killing him), could the statement "Anybody break in on me and I'm gonna kill 'em" be evidence of malice aforethought?  An over-zealous prosecutor could certainly make that case, given that she pursued the intruder through the house continuing to fire at him as he retreated.  She even stated that she wasn't sure if she hit him with any of the shots, but "I sure was hoping."

 

What if she later cooperated with police investigators, and described the events to them, in detail (even if done appropriately with defense counsel present and being video recorded)?  What if there were inconsistencies in the accounts she gave to police investigators versus the account she gave in her media interviews.  Might the prosecution then be able to call into question the validity of her entire story, show that she is untrustworthy because she's changed her story multiple times?  What if the prosecutor decided to blend the two together, telling her tale of malice, from her own words that she tried to kill, and then that any story of self defense was just an inconsistent story-telling from someone trying to cover her tracks?

 

In any responsible self-defense or concealed carry course, you are going to be taught to say the bare minimum to police first-responders and investigators after defending yourself.  You need to establish that you were attacked, and you need to establish any exculpatory evidence or witnesses that could disappear from the scene.  After that, most advice is to exercise your right to remain silent and to counsel.  So if you'd advised to not talk in detail to police, why would you think it's a good idea to talk to media in detail (or at all)?

 

 

 

Our second story, comes out of Houston, Texas, courtesy of ABC 13 News (link to original story here), in which Mike Colgin defended his home against an intruder.  In the second video on the news story, while re-enacting the events, he stated:  "Within five seconds, he was going to be standing in front of me in my house.  So I took two steps out, aimed, Boom!  And he went straight back through the window."  It seems like a conflicting statement - he couldn't be about to be in the house, and then go back through the window.  Could a prosecutor use that?  Maybe, given other evidence.  Why give the prosecution ammo against you?

 

In addition, in both instances, each person was interviewed, using the gun as a prop to describe what they did.  Both of them waved the gun around, gesturing with their hands as they told their story.  In the second story, about half-way through the news clip, Mr. Colgin even re-enacted shooting with his finger on the trigger, pointed through his window, at his neighbors' house across the street.  Tell me, is he a poster child for safe gun handling?

 

 

How about some more lessons?  In both cases, neither hit their target.  There all bullet holes all through the walls, in Mrs. Roberson's home.  Any one of those shots could have hit a family member.  As for Mr. Colgin, he clearly engaged his target with his neighbors' house as a backstop.  We know the arrested suspect had a wound to his ear, but that hardly would have stopped a bullet.  What would he be looking at if his single round had went through his neighbor's window or wall and killed their child?

 

As a gun community we tend to look at stories like this as success stories, but they are not.  While I am glad that both defenders are alive and well and uninjured, they survived because their intruders chose to leave when presented with force.  What if they hadn't?  Their marksmanship failed them and could have cost them their lives if their intruders had committed to violence.

 

Back to the main topic, in my opinion, there is no upside to speaking with the media - only downsides.  I cannot think of one single good thing that can happen by granting the media access to yourself, your home and your story, following something like that.  More over, I don't think they did themselves any favors from a personal image standpoint - they both look like untrained, ignorant gun-owners waiving their guns in around in front of the camera, looking for their moment of glory on the 5 o'clock news.

If you ever find yourself in their situation, do better for yourself.  Avoid the media, keep your mouth shut, and save your detailed narrative for your defense counsel only.

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