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Three Strikes You’re Out

Our legal system is broken when an honorably discharged veteran is sent to jail for protecting his private property from being burglarized by a twice convicted felon (subscription):

Elton John Richard II made split-second decisions— good ones— as a member of an elite Marine reconnaissance unit clearing towns ahead of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But District Judge Albert “Pat” Murdoch ordered Richard to spend two years in a New Mexico prison Friday for a decision that propelled him into a fatal pursuit of a man he thought was breaking into his home in 2004.

Richard, then working a Department of Energy courier with a Q clearance, fatally shot Daniel Romero, 34, after chasing him from his yard to Paseo del Norte.

That was taken from a Journal article over the weekend. Today’s article makes it even clearer that sending Mr. Richard to jail is nothing short of a travesty of justice (subscription):

Police later located a friend of Romero’s, who told them he needed parts for his Bronco and dropped off Romero in the neighborhood with a screwdriver and a hammer thinking he was going to steal a Bronco.

According to a police report, the friend parked on the street near a Dumpster and saw Romero come running from a house where a Bronco was parked in the driveway with a man running after him “beating him up.”

Confirmation that there was criminal intent and the twice convicted felon was indeed caught in the act of burglarizing the private property of a law-abiding citizen – a citizen who had put his own life on the line numerous times in service to our country. Service to insure that we have the right to protect our private property.

How is this service repaid?

Assistant District Attorney Theresa Whatley said the case was one of a good man doing a bad thing.

Noting the victim’s two prior burglary convictions and making reference to recent car theft statistics, she said the court should send a message to people about being overly zealous in protecting their property.

It’s time to send a message to the District Attorney’s office that criminals belong in jail, not people protecting their property.