Texas vigilante law allows the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen goods at night.

                A Texas jury aquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort. His lawyers claimed he used deadly force after she refused sex. Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas eve 2009. She denied his request for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 that he paid her.

               Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to retrieve stolrn property at night. Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for his actions. They say Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money and not delivering sex. In a police interview played for jurors, Gilbert nevered mentioned anything about theft. Frago, who was 21, was critically injured and died several months later. Her occupation seems to have altered the jury’s decision. I don’t think they would have ruled in his favor if she was not an escort. Add the fact that he had to find her for any of this to occur and it seriously clouds the verdict.

While Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which made headlines because of the murder of Trayvon Martin, authorizes the use of deadly force without having to retreat in defense of one’s person or home. Texas’ law goes well beyond this. Ot allows the use of deadly force in protection of any tangible or movable property. The Texas law not only authorizes the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen property at night but also during criminal mischief at nighttime. Deadly force is even authorized to prevent someone who is fleeing immeadiately after a theft during the night or a burglary or robber, so long as the individual reasonably thinks their property cannot be protected by other means. It seems as if the Texas legislature thinks we should return to the Wild West.

This law allows individuals to become vigilantes, which is illegal. It allows them to impose the death penalty for crimes that would not warrant the death penalty. Even with Texas law making vigilante justice legal, it is difficult to see how Gilbert’s behavior can be justified. Especially given that escorts are not entitled to deliver sex under the law and delivering sex for money is illegal.

While it is similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which was supported by the NRA and the Koch Brothers, the Texas law goes even further. Texas and the Republucan majority in the state government further and further away from sanity. The Koch Brothers and the NRA have their fingerprints on these laws all over the country. These are the type of laws that move us backward in history. The NRA has their hands so far in the Republican party’s pocket they can scratch thrir knee. Democrats have to stay vigilant and united to stop these laws before they happen and possibly remove money from American politics. President Obama wants gun control and Republicans do the complete opposite in their obstructionist way.

     

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