Defense attorney speaks to ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense in fatal St. Roch shooting

Defense attorney speaks to ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense in fatal St. Roch shooting

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans police said a St. Roch homeowner heard an alarm in the middle of the night, indicating there was a break-in at his shed. That’s when police said the homeowner saw two men on his Franklin Avenue property trying to steal a generator. The homeowner went out to confront them, armed with two handguns.

New Orleans defense attorney Bobby Hjortsberg said that’s a key point in a potential defense.

“If the homeowner was in the shed at the time the individual was trying to enter the shed, certainly he would have had the right to (use) deadly force if he thought deadly force was necessary to protect himself, and there’s a presumption deadly force is necessary if someone is trying to enter your home,” said Hjortsberg.

He’s talking about the “Stand Your Ground” defense, which gives a person the right to use deadly force and defend themselves if someone is trying to enter their domain.

“The homeowner didn’t stay inside his house. He walked outside and confronted him, and that’s different than standing on the doorstep and saying, ‘If these people are getting ready to come in my house, I’m going to shoot them.’ He went out and confronted them, and that changes things a little bit,” Hjortsberg said.

Police said when the homeowner exited his home and confronted the two would-be burglars, one of the men turned to face the homeowner. That’s when police said the homeowner fired multiple shots, hitting one of the suspects in the chest. The second suspect ran away.

Police said the wounded suspect later died from his injuries at the hospital. But Hjortsberg said prosecutors and investigators will look at several factors, including whether the alleged burglar was armed, the circumstances - even the lighting - when deciding possible charges, if any.

“You should not go out and confront someone. You should call the police. But look, we’re Monday morning quarterbacking. This is early morning, your family is inside, it’s easy to say what you should do,” Hjortsberg said.

Neighbors didn’t want to speak to us on camera, but said they were surprised that they didn’t hear anything. They also described the street as pretty quiet.

While we still don’t know anything about the suspects or the shooter, a family member of the homeowner told FOX 8 that his nephew is a truck driver and a very good person. He said he couldn’t believe what happened.

Police said the investigation is in its early stages and that the male who was died was an adult. However, they would not release the ages of either person suspected in the burglary attempt.

The coroner’s office has not yet identified the man who was killed.

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