As police and prosecutors in Chester County continue to investigate an alleged home invader death Saturday, legal experts say that it is likely authorities are considering South Carolina’s stand your ground Castle Doctrine that gives people the right to defend themselves in their home with deadly force against felony assault.
All Chester County Sheriff’s Office deputies have released about the shooting Saturday is the homeowner in rural Chester County on Baton Rouge Road shot and killed Antonio Maurice Roberts, 35, during a home invasion. The homeowner was injured but his name and extent of his injuries have not been released.
Candice Lively, 6th Circuit deputy solicitor, said police are investigating and interviewing witnesses and no decision has been made on any potential charges in the case.
South Carolina’s law that some states call the Castle Doctrine is titled the “Protection of Persons and Property Act.”
A person whose home is invaded has “no duty to retreat” and can use force to repel that invasion, said Kenneth Gaines, a criminal law expert at the University of South Carolina Law School. A person has the right to defend himself and property inside the home, Gaines said.
“That is cut and dried,” Gaines said.
Roberts, shot in the alleged home invasion, has criminal record dating back to 2001 that includes convictions for drug offenses, including marijuana and crack cocaine, and arrests this year for domestic violence and being an alleged habitual traffic offender, according to State Law Enforcement Division and court records. Roberts has a criminal record in both Chester and York counties.
The law enforcement review of witness statements and evidence is routine and proper and law enforcement likely is trying to get statements from all people at the scene as well as any relationship between those involved, said Miller Shealy, a former federal prosecutor and professor at the Charleston School of Law. But in South Carolina, a person in the home has the right to use deadly force to protect himself, Shealy said.
“That right is clear under the law,” Shealy said.