Castle Doctrine being used in Missouri
William J. Whitfield came home early one January morning in 2010 to find his tiny brick bungalow just about emptied out by burglars.
They took his tools, his computer, his flat-screen televisions.
"They tried to get my washer and dryer too, but that was bolted to the floor," said Whitfield, 66, a retired Navy petty officer who lives in the city's College Hill neighborhood.
But the burglars left something else behind: bags stuffed with more of Whitfield's belongings, stacked near his basement stairwell.
He knew they would be back. So, he called police to report the burglary, but he also armed himself with his 9 mm pistol and slept in a chair in the front room that night. And when three people broke in about 3 a.m., Whitfield shot one of them, leaving the man dead on the kitchen floor.
Police investigated the shooting, but Whitfield never really faced the prospect of prosecution. Missouri's expanded self-defense law, passed in 2007 and known as the castle doctrine, not only protected him from being charged but meant he couldn't be sued over his actions that night.
Whitfield's case is just one example of homeowners taking action against intruders — and burglars dying at the hands of those homeowners. . . .