EDINBURG, Texas – A Weslaco woman is facing a murder charge after she shot a man claiming he was a burglary suspect. However Hidalgo County investigators quickly determined the shooting was unjustified. On Saturday Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies responded to east 25th street in Weslaco for reports that a woman had shot a burglary suspect.
McAllen Defense Attorney Jesse Villalobos says under Texas law, homeowners do have a right to protect themselves under the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground Law.
Villalobos says, “When you are in your home or vehicle you have the right legally to use lethal force. Meaning deadly force if you reasonably believe that your life or someone else’s life is in danger.”
During a press conference, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said the woman who was identified as 41-year-old Emma Gracia initially claimed she shot the victim, 24-year-old Enrique Mendoza, because she feared for her life.
However witness statements contradicted Gracia. Stating when she picked up her shotgun, Mendoza was outside of her property with his hands in the air.
“You are protected by the Texas Penal Code Chapter 9. It does allow you to use deadly force but again in this case she has no protection.” said Sheriff Guerra.
Attorney Jesse Villalobos says if a homeowner uses deadly force the incident, most likely will be reviewed by a grand jury. Adding the purpose of the Texas law is for you to be able to repel an attack. However, once that attack is repelled and you decide to use deadly force you are no longer protected by the law.
“For example if in fact someone was breaking into your house, you pull out a gun they turn around and start running, you don’t have a right to chase after them and go gun them down in the streets.”
Investigators also say they believe Gracia shot Mendoza because he was arguing with her boyfriend over a drug deal.