Johns Hopkins student kills intruder with samurai sword

Details here.

Well, erm, it’s not precisely mundane. . .

Get some, Pontolillo!

maryland? that kid’s screwed.

Sounds like this played out quieter than it might have at my house. I hope Maryland has reasonable self defense laws.

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Pontolillo.

Your honor. My client pleads “not guilty” by reason of awesomeness.

“In a panic?”

I hope he just said that to avoid charges. :smiley:

“Does the defendant have anything to say to the court?”

“There can be only one!”

If I’m reading this article right, the student was outside, looked into the detached garage and was surprised by the burglar, who lunged at him. It was night, and it sounds like it probably happened too fast for the student to have any opportunity to assess whether the burglar was armed. If a man who may or may not be armed lunges at you out of the dark without warning, do you have the right to use deadly force?

Here’s the model Maryland jury instruction on self-defense:

The student should have no trouble satisfying Points 1 and 2. Point 3, whether the force he used was reasonable, will presumably be the focus of the investigation, as well as whether the student could reasonably have retreated from the burglar.

these words make me cry…or chop something off someone…

Was the student legally entitled to order the suspect to stay where he was? And geez, how quickly does one bleed to death from such an injury?

Looks like the student had been robbed earlier in the day, which explains carrying the sword when investigating his garage. That’s reasonable, if dramatic. It also appears that the student confronted the intruder, told him to freeze, and the intruder jumped at him. It may be that the student confronted the intruder with his roommates, who left the student covering the intruder while they called the police. No word on whether it was dark or not, or whether the intruder was armed or not. And the student struck the intruder once in the wrist- that’s plausible for an intended self-defense blow. I think the student will get off scot-free if he gets a good lawyer.

EDIT: Koxinga, I think that would fall under a citizen’s arrest. I do think that you’re allowed to hold a caught robber until the police arrive. IANAL, though, and will appreciate it when Bricker weighs in.

Found an interesting link to an apparently ongoing case in Texas, with perhaps relevant discussion here:

I had a friend in college who carried a samurai sword a lot. This makes me think a little differently about that, although he lived in a dorm and we were more worried he’d hurt somebody while screwing around with the thing. He was more than a little nuts.

My non-lawyer guess is that Pontolillo doesn’t get charged with anything.

It’s hard to argue the force wasn’t reasonable. Someone lunged at him, presumably either to strike him, grab him or push him out of the way. He struck at the attacker’s hand. That’s really the absolute bare minimum of force in that situation.

If he’d struck at his torso or head that might be considered excessive. But at the threatening limb? Hard to see any jury calling that excessive.

Unconscious in as little as 15 seconds. Dead within three minutes.

Partially severed limbs about worst possible injury if an artery in cut. If the limb is fully severed the lack of returning blood causes a dramatic decrease in blood flowing in. If the limb is partially severed that response is never initiated and the artery keeps getting a full blood supply.

I wonder if the sword was decent, or a POS? I keep one like this by the front door, just to be able to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and other pests. It’s a cheap thing, but it will do the job.

Oh, and apparently in Maryland, the “castle doctrine” laws on record don’t require you to attempt to retreat if you’re in your own home.

The sword struck the hand, or the lunging hand run into the sword?

Dude is going to regret missing his one chance to bellow 'You shall not pass!"

According to my sources, 'tis just a flesh wound.