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AP

LAREDO, Texas - The trial of a man accused of executing a teen who broke into his home with friends looking for snacks has many in this border city outraged. Not because of the crime, but because the man is facing a murder charge.

In a state where the right to use deadly force to protect one's life and property is sacrosanct and frontier justice is still sometimes the norm - particularly on the violence-plagued Texas-Mexico border - prosecutors have to explain the decision to try Jose Luis Gonzalez.
Even their future boss, the man who is running uncontested for Webb County district attorney in November, disagrees with the decision; he is Gonzalez's defense attorney.
Gonzalez, a wiry, graying 63-year-old, had endured several break-ins at his trailer in a hard-scrabble community east of town when four boys, ranging in age from 11 to 15, broke into his trailer to rummage for chips and soda in July 2007. Gonzalez was in a nearby building at the time.
Gonzalez went into the trailer and confronted the boys with a 16-gauge shotgun. The boys, who were unarmed, were forced to their knees, attorneys on both sides say.
The boys claim they were begging for forgiveness when Gonzalez hit them with the barrel of the shotgun and kicked them repeatedly.
Then, the medical examiner testified, 13-year-old Francisco Anguiano was shot in the back at point-blank range. Two mashed Twinkies and some cookies were stuffed in the pockets of his shorts.
Another boy, Jesus Soto Jr., now 16, testified that Gonzalez ordered them at gunpoint to take Francisco's body outside.
Texas law does allow homeowners to use deadly force to protect themselves and their property, and prosecutors and grand juries have generally applied that standard broadly. In June, a grand jury in Houston cleared a homeowner who shot and killed two burglars outside his neighbor's house despite the dispatcher's repeated request that he stay inside his own home.
"The homeowner's right to defend himself is not what's on trial in this case," said Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker, speaking of the Gonzalez case. The shooting "was unnecessary and unreasonable, and Texas law doesn't protect that kind of behavior."
But folks in this border city scarred by drug violence across the Rio Grande defend Gonzalez's actions.
"It's a table topic at coffee shops, not only in Laredo but throughout the region," said Mayor Raul Salinas, who noted that folks tend to have strong opinions about the right to protect themselves here. "There's been some debate."
Reader responses to articles published on the Laredo Morning Times Web site called Gonzalez's prosecution unfair and blasted the teen, saying Francisco got what he deserved.
Food distributor Francisco Hernandez pointed out in an interview with The Associated Press that a homeowner wouldn't know whether the intruders were there "to steal potato chips or to stab you."
"He really shouldn't be on trial," Hernandez said.
Gonzalez could get up to life in prison if he's convicted of first-degree murder. His attorney, Isidro "Chilo" Alaniz, said his client was simply acting in self-defense when he found the boys in the trailer late at night.
"There is not a day that goes by that Mr. Gonzalez doesn't think about that little boy," Alaniz said. But Gonzalez "feared for his life."
It was four on one when Gonzalez entered the trailer, Alaniz said. He had the boys on the ground and recognized at least one of them, but Gonzalez thought 13-year-old boy was lunging at him when he fired the shotgun, Alaniz said.
The case will be Alaniz's last as a criminal defense attorney. The 40-year-old won the Democratic nomination in April and has no Republican opponent for district attorney in the November.
He said he became Gonzalez's attorney long before he decided to run for office and has stuck with the case because he believes in it. He was asked whether his client would be on trial for murder if he were already in office.
"That's a good question," Alaniz said. "This case has huge implications for homeowners, gun owners."
The trial is expected to wrap up Friday.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,428222,00.html
 

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Texas homeowner acquitted of killing teen intruder

LAREDO, Texas - A Texas jury acquitted a man accused of killing a boy who broke into his home looking for a snack - a case that sparked outrage in this border city, where many thought the man should not have even been charged.
It took the jury of eight men and four women three hours Friday to find Jose Luis Gonzalez, 63, not guilty of murdering Francisco Anguiano, who was 13 when he and three friends broke into Gonzalez's trailer to rummage for snacks and soda one night in July 2007.
"I thank God and my attorney, the jury and the judge," Gonzalez said in Spanish after the verdict. "It was a case where it was my life or theirs, and it's a very good thing that they (the jurors) decided in my favor."
Gonzalez said he was sorry for Anguiano's death, but "it was a situation in which I feared for my life."
Texas law allows homeowners to use deadly force to protect themselves and their property. In June, a grand jury in Houston cleared a homeowner who shot and killed two burglars outside his neighbor's house despite the dispatcher's repeated request that he stay inside his own home.
"I feel vindicated for Mr. Gonzalez and his family and for all of the homeowners and all of the seniors in Laredo," said Isidro "Chilo" Alaniz, Gonzalez's attorney. "This case has huge implications across the board. We always, always believed in Mr. Gonzalez's right to defend his life and his property."
Alaniz is running uncontested for Webb County district attorney in November.
However, Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker maintained during his closing arguments that the case was not about homeowners' right to protect their property, but about when a person is justified in using deadly force to do so.
"What really took place here was a case of vigilantism," he said after the verdict. "A 13-year-old boy was killed because a man was enraged."
Anguiano's aunt, who asked not to be named, said in Saturday's editions of the Laredo Morning Times that she was disappointed with the verdict.
"The state fought the case the way it should have," she said. "There was a sufficient amount of evidence, and I thought that some of the jurors would be a father or a mother, and perhaps they would think about this happening to them."
Gonzalez had endured several break-ins at his trailer when the four boys, ranging in age from 11 to 15, broke in. Gonzalez, who was in a nearby building at the time, went into the trailer and confronted the boys with a 16-gauge shotgun. Then he forced the boys, who were unarmed, to their knees, attorneys on both sides say.
The boys say they were begging for forgiveness when Gonzalez hit them with the barrel of the shotgun and kicked them repeatedly. Then, the medical examiner testified, Anguiano was shot in the back at close range. Two mashed Twinkies and some cookies were stuffed in the pockets of his shorts.
Another boy, Jesus Soto Jr., now 16, testified that Gonzalez ordered them at gunpoint to take Anguiano's body outside.
Gonzalez said he thought Anguiano was lunging at him when he fired the shotgun.
Many people in Laredo - a town just across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where drug violence runs rampant - defended Gonzalez's actions. In online responses to articles published by the Morning Times, comments included statements such as "The kid got what he deserved" and calls to "stop the unfair prosecution."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080928/ap_on_re_us/killed_over_snacks;_ylt=AhjBokVwItYZ2QZfsVJs_EGs0NUE
 
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