Imagine this: You’re an elderly man driving along a quiet suburban road with your wife. You change lanes in front of another driver. The other driver immediately begins tailing you closely and, over the course of a ten minute drive, you can’t shake him off, even when you tap your brakes and slow down. As the road narrows from four lanes to two, you keep driving and he keeps tailing you. You don’t call the police, because there’s nothing yet to report.
Eventually, you turn onto your street and, to your unpleasant surprise, that other car keeps following you. You get to your house, open the garage door using your automatic door opening, and drive into the garage as quickly as possible — only to that other driver follow you there too. When you try to close the garage door, it actually bounces off that other car’s hood before closing.
As soon as you’re in the house, you grab your legal gun (one of 50 that you own) because you can see the other car’s driver advancing on your front porch. You tell him to go away, but he doesn’t. You fire a warning shot into a bush, and he keeps coming. Finally, you shoot at him. It takes two shots, one hitting the other fellow in the abdomen, to finally make him stop.
That’s what happened to 72-year-old James Simon, a physician, who ended shooting 70-year-old William Osenton. It was then left to a Marin County Superior Court judge to determine whether to charge Simon with manslaughter for the shooting. Osenton had little to say in the matter, since he claims to remember only the fact that, earlier in the day, he’d been in the hospital for a routine stress test.
This being Marin County, the District Attorney is very gung ho to press charges. Surprisingly, though, after a two-day preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Kelly Simmons declines to press charges:
Simmons ruled against the prosecution, ruling that Simon’s actions were not unreasonable under the circumstances.
The case is a really stunning victory for gun rights, because the judge rejected completely the DA’s claim that a homeowner cannot use guns to protect himself and his family until he has exhausted all other options:
During closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, [District Attorney Edward] Berberian said Simon could have locked himself in the home and called police rather than seek a confrontation.
Berberian said Simon’s weapons supply — which included more than 50 guns throughout the house — suggested he was “hypersensitive” and had a victimization complex that led him to take unreasonably deadly action.
“It was a bad judgment call, it was the wrong judgment call, and there has to be a standard,” Berberian said.
But defense attorney Charles Dresow said it was Osenton who made the bad choices. He said Simon had a constitutionally guaranteed right to protect himself, his family and his property.
“This is a clear case of self-defense,” Dresow said.
The charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm carry a potential prison sentence of about 20 years.
Osenton was not charged with any crimes.
Simon made a short statement to the press: “I’m proud to live in America.” Since Berberian is thinking about re-filing charges, let’s hope that Simon has reason to continue being proud.