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'Castle Doctrine' applies to Missoula home invasion case

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
Published On: Sep 16 2013 04:50:20 PM MDT
Updated On: Sep 16 2013 04:56:03 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula police say the 22-year-old who took a bullet to the stomach during a home invasion early Sunday morning remains hospitalized and is expected to live.

"On the 15th, at about 2 o’clock in the morning, a resident woke up to glass breaking and somebody entering his house," said Missoula Police Detective Scott Pastian.

Pastian tells us the home owner gave the intruder a warning.

"He told us he said that he had a gun, and told him to leave, but our investigation shows that he came inside… The intruder was shot in the abdomen."

Pastian said home owner appears to be acting within his legal rights. State Representative Krayton Kerns says the state’s Castle Doctrine appears to apply to the case.

"The right of self defense, self preservation, is a fundamental right," said Kerns. "The homeowner will be considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof shifts to the county prosecutor."

Kerns sponsored House Bill 228 in 2009, which passed and established the Castle Doctrine.

It says a person can use deadly force if they think it's necessary to prevent an assault in an occupied structure.

Another case of note where this law was applied was in Flathead County last year, when Kalispell resident Daniel Fredenberg was shot to death during a domestic disturbance. The shooter, firing from his garage, never faced any charges.