A big news story broke here the last few days with a twist this morning.
An Iraqi vet found a guy in his garage trying to steal his vehicle. The robber ran off and the veteran followed him for four blocks finally shooting and killing him. Yesterday the veteran was sentenced to two years in prison.
The fur started to fly. Having been besieged by e-mails and phone calls, this morning Governor Richardson has called on the judge to reconsider the sentence or he will commute it.
Now I'm not a real big fan of Judge Pat Murdock. We went to the same junior high and high school, he was a couple of years ahead of me graduating in the same class as Bruce, but we played in the band together for a number of those years.
Many years ago a car dealer in town stopped paying the insurance premiums for it's employees and did some other dubius financial accounting. The owner of the dealership pled guilty to fraud and embezzlement and Pat Murdock gave him a suspended sentence so he could keep the dealership. Governor Gary Johnson then pardoned him and the dealer was the manager of Johnson's reelection campaign. The poor employees who had paid their part of the health insurance permium got stuck paying 100% of their medical bills receiving nothing financially or judiciously. So as you can see I don't think much of Pat Murdock as a judge. He should have thrown the book at the car dealer, or at least made him pay restitution. I can't figure out how the crook is still in business.
Saying that, I agree with Judge Murdock on this one. In fact he was rather lenient at a two year sentence he could have given him up to ten years. As much as some people might admire a veteran running down a burglar and killing him, it's not a good thing for the community to have people running through neighborhoods shooting guns, what if one of the shots he fired and missed had killed someone eating breakfast or sleeping in their beds? It's not a good thing for a man to chase down an unarmed man and kill him regardless of the provocation, and just because a man is a veteran does not give him liscence to break the law once he gets back.
Deadly force is only permissible in self-defense or the defense of someone else. If a police officer had shot and killed this man under the same circumstances he would be facing the same charges.
I'm not sure if Judge Murdock will change the sentence, it would be a blow to the legal system if he does. Governor Richardson will then most likely commute the sentence to probation or even pardon him. That's his constiutional perogative, and he will most likely be praised for doing it and score political brownie points.
The law should not be subject to popular opinion.