Ky. law allows use of deadly force to protect self, property

Published: Sep. 18, 2007 at 10:51 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2007 at 4:01 AM EDT
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By Caton Bredar

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Shawn Martin was jailed Tuesday after wrestling a gun away from two men who broke into his apartment and killing both of them, but he's not charged in their deaths. He was arrested after police allegedly found cocaine in his apartment.

Now Martin faces drug charges as well as a charge of tampering with physical evidence for allegedly trying to flush the drugs down the toilet.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Martin knew the two men -- 29-year-old Corey Carr and 28-year-old William Gibson III -- but even if he did, defense expert Bart Adams says the law generally favors the resident and his right to protect his home.

Referred to as the "castle domain law," changes in state law in the summer of 2006 mean that a resident can almost always assume a person breaking into his or her home means to cause harm.

"If someone comes up on the dwelling or the premises, with the intent to commit a felony, the presumption (is) that they are there to cause death or serious bodily harm," Adams said. That "gives the owner, the person that is there, the presumptive right to use deadly physical force or physical force to repel any attacker or any invader."

Adams says "the legal precept states that if a person is any place legally, they no longer have the duty to retreat, so it's a pretty big change in the law, but especially as it pertains to houses and dwellings."

Once threatened, a resident or any individual inside has no obligation to back down.

After interviewing Martin and other witnesses, police obtained a search warrant for Martin's apartment and discovered a white substance that appeared to be cocaine.

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Online Reporter: Caton Bredar

Online Producer: Michael Dever