Sunday, December 16, 2007

Joe Horn: Dead Men Tell No Tales

"Move," Horn can be heard saying on the tape. "You're dead."






Horn redialed 911 and told the dispatcher what he'd done.

"I had no choice," he said, his voice shaking. "They came in the front yard with me, man. I had no choice. Get somebody over here quick." [1]
Pasadena Capt. A.H. "Bud" Corbett said both men were shot in the back. [2]

It boils down to "choices" and "versions" of the truth.

What "choices" did Joe Horn have on that day, the day he shot two men to death in the front yard of his neighbor's home?
I had no choice.
Was it true, that Joe "had no choice?"

Joe refused to answers any questions from the Houston Chronicle reporter instead relying on his lawyer, family, and friends to describe what kind of guy Joe is and to tell his "side" of what happened. The 911 tape tells another side, not unlike the great 1950 Japanese movie, Rashomon where a crime is committed and then retold from differing points of view.

There's Joe's attorney's version, the police version, the autopsy which showed the two men were shot in the back and the 911 tape, the version of Joe speaking with the operator.

From today's Houston Chronicle:
To his grandchildren, the 61-year-old Pasadena homeowner is simply "Papa Joe."

To longtime friends, Joe Horn is an "average Joe" who leads a rather quiet, dull life as a retired communications computer manager on the outskirts of Houston.

But since being catapulted into a national debate for fatally shooting two men he says were burglarizing the house next door, Horn is called everything from a "hero" to a "murdering vigilante."
The reporter goes on to write about Horn's concern for his family:
"(The shooting) has been devastating on my family," Horn wrote. "Words cannot describe how bad this has been."

Horn, who had been letting his attorney and personal friend of four decades speak for him, added, "It has caused untold grief on all of us. I feel for my daughter and grandchildren."
What was mentioned in the Chronicle piece about the two dead men:
Diego Ortiz, 30, and Hernando Riascos Torres, 38, collapsed and died not far from Horn's house. Both were unemployed illegal immigrants from Colombia with Houston addresses. Torres was sent to prison for dealing cocaine and was deported in 1999.
No word from the men's families, how, perhaps any devastation they might be suffering.

More from the Chronicle:
The last time Horn shot an animal was 30 years ago when he bagged a "huge bull elk" in Idaho.

"After this hunt, I lost all my desire to kill any more animals," Horn said in his written comments. "I went hunting a few more times but I was no longer interested."
"Don't go outside the house," the 911 operator pleaded. "You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun. I don't care what you think."

"You want to make a bet?" Horn answered. "I'm going to kill them." [1]

More on Joe Horn in the Houston Chronicle:
What he never expected was that his quiet, private life would end the day he intervened in the burglary of the house next door.

The doting grandfather now needs a press agent to handle the nonstop requests for appearances and interviews with media outlets across the country, his friends say.
Horn has never taken into custody. Hasn't been charged with a crime. In Texas the law says one has the right to "protect a neighbor's property."
Joe Owmby, who heads the Harris County district attorney's police integrity division, explained that Texas law allows "wide latitude for individuals to protect themselves, but not as much if they're not threatened." [2]
From the 9/11 tape:

Don't go outside the house," the 911 operator pleaded. "You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun. I don't care what you think."

"You want to make a bet?" Horn answered. "I'm going to kill them." [1]

Joe's attorney's version of that fateful day:

Lambright insists Horn feared for his life. After the 911 dispatcher asked for more information on the burglars, Horn left his house to see what was happening and to possibly get a glimpse of the burglars' car or license plate, Lambright said.

"He went outside and all of a sudden there they were," Lambright said. "And Horn tells them 'move and you're dead.' The suspects have a shotgun aimed at them and their response was to run at Joe and he panicked." [2]

More from Joe's attorney on Joe:

"He's quite a boring guy, really," Lambright said. "He's gotten fat, lazy and old. [2]

Joe Horn, 61-year-old "retired old, fat, doting grandpa" who's life is forever changed.

The 911 tape:

"I had no choice," he said, his voice shaking.

Joe did have a choice. Joe was advised by 911 to stay in his house.

The 911 tape:

Joe Horn: "I'm going to kill them."

"Retired Grandpa" Joe says his life is now devastated.

The two men that Joe shot dead? It's safe to say those guys are lives are "devastated" too.

Joe's case hasn't gone before a Grand Jury. Joe has not been charged with a crime. Joe's attorney and the press paint Joe as a good guy caught in a bad situation.

Is part of the bad situation Joe has gotten into due to Joe's decision to leave his house?

Would a Grand Jury sort out what "choices" Joe had and which "version" of the truth applies?

Would, in the end, a Grand Jury "choose" that Joe Horn's right to protect his neighbor's property outweighs the lives of two men?

Image []
Source - 1 - DBKP - Shot Burglars in the Back
Source - 2 - Houston Chronicle - Bigger, Better!.
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page

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