Was Landowner Justified In Deadly Shooting?

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The shooting near Muldrow Tuesday night (May 8) that left one man dead has raised a question over when you can use deadly force in protecting yourself.

John Douglas Elliot, Jr., 23, died after allegedly trying to steal from a homeowner  Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said.

Under Oklahoma law, deadly force can be justified if your life is threatened according to Sallisaw lawyer Dan George.

"A person has the right to protect his property and his person," George said. "Now he doesn't necessarily have the right to kill someone if they're just destroying property. But if he feels threatened for himself by death or great bodily injuries he's got a right to protect himself."

Some who live on Highway 64-B in Muldrow, where the shooting happened, said it was done in self-defense.

"The man was totally in the right," neighbor Joe Teague said. "That was a good man. I know him, reputation wise. He doesn't bother anybody. He tries to make a living like everybody else. And this guy was trying to take what he worked his whole life to earn."

"You try to put yourself in this persons shoes at the time and try to look at the situation from his viewpoint," George explained.

Lockhart said that at this time their office is not planning to pursue any charges against the landowner, who neighbors identified as Jim Short.

"Well good, amen to Lockhart for there," Teague said. "He's doing the right thing there. I hate to hurt another human being, but there are times when you have to do what you have to do. That's just life out here. You're in the country. You can't rely on someone else."

The sheriff said the suspect tried to hit the landowner with his pickup truck but swerved, missing him.

George says the deadly force law in Arkansas is similar to Oklahoma's. He said if your life is being threatened, you do have a right to protect yourself.

Lockhart said the details of the shooting are being turned over to prosecutors for a full investigation.