Texan kills repo man - Is this story true?

A man wakes up in the middle of the night, looks out the window and sees his truck being loaded onto a flatbed trailer. He shoots and kills the thief. It turns out that the “thief” was legally reposessing the truck. He was tried for murder and found innocent by a Texas jury.

This story came up in a conversation. Some of us had heard it and thought it really happened, others thought it was an urban legend.

So, what’s the dope? If it’s true, further details would be welcome.

It’s true. It was a big news story a few years ago, and there was a huge outcry over the “not guilty” verdict. Apparently, Texas has/had a law that says that you can use deadly force to protect your property. (Most places only allow deadly force to protect your life.) Of course, if the guy defaulted on his car loan, then the car isn’t his property anymore, but the jury was sympathetic to him and decided that this was a good enough excuse.

It happened in 1994. The defendant’s name was Jerry Casey. This is, amazingly, the only cite I could come up with via Google. It’s an exercise for some law class.

As I recall, the “castle doctrine” (I may have the term wrong) extends to one’s unoccupied car in Texas. It is the same as shooting someone who broke into your house, essentially. As long as the defense in a trial can establish the shooter did not know it was a repo, and believed it was a theft, I can see that being the verdict. I have heard (no cite) about a case where it never went beyond the Grand Jury, but I had not heard about a trial.

When I was station at Ft Bliss, in El Paso, my neighbor in the barracks (apartments) had a car alarm in his new mongo truck. He got a .45, and parked the truck outside his window at night (we were on the 2nd floor). Well, the winds whip up pretty good in El Paso, and his car alarm went off frequently. I fully expected the boom of the .45 after each and every car alarm incident.

I remember reading a local newspaper in Idaho a couple years back (can’t find it now) about a man who was being tried for shooting at (though not hitting) a repo man who was reposessing his truck. He was found guilty but only because the repo man had come to his house earlier in the day and told him his truck was going to be repossessed. The judge felt the man couldn’t defend himself on the grounds that he thought his truck was being stolen since he was told earlier in the day that it would be repossessed. That, of course, leaves the impression that if the man did have a legitimate reason to think his truck was being stolen, he could have used deadly force.

The relevant Texas law, if anyone’s interested:

So the question for the jury was whether or not his belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent a theft was reasonable.