Cover Story: Legal case - protecting your home

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We're all tired of hearing about crime in our neighborhoods.  Frustrated by the robberies and the shootings.  But the question we're asking what do you do when you are personally confronted with a criminal, face to face.  Do you take matters into your own hands?  And will the law be on your side?  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson explores in our Cover Story.

It's a story that has emotionally charged our community and divided a neighborhood.

Over the weekend, police say four teenagers broke into a home in Northeast Charlotte.

They allegedly tied up the couple inside -- and ransacked the house.

The 76-year old homeowner managed to free himself and followed the teens down the street.

That's where police say C-L McClure opened fire on the teens.

15-year old Marcus Fluker was shot, and died at the scene.

Police arrested the other three suspects.

And so far, no charges have been filed against the homeowner.

People really passionate about what they think is right in this case, but what does the law say?

The law is very clear when it comes to defending your home.. you have the right to shoot a suspect inside your home who breaks in.

But does it give you the right to hunt a robber down?

That's something far different.. and in a case like this could cut either way.

"It's a fascinating case."

Famed defense attorney George Laughrun calls it a lawyer's dream case.. easy to make a convincing argument for either side.

And it started here.. where the homeowner and his wife were tied up and robbed.

What jury would convict a 76-year old man.. an ex-Marine who got fed up with crime?

By the same token-- who wouldn't want justice done for a 15-year old boy whose life was ended over a robbery and kidnapping?

"It cuts both ways," says Laughrun.  "There are good points for both sides. It's Criminal Law 101. It's that good a case with all the issues in it."

And you might use the law to argue either side.

North Carolina law protects homeowners who shoot to defend their property.

But the law doesn't give you the right to hunt down and kill those who robbed you.. after they've left your home.

However, it is legal to kill someone in defense of yourself or someone else.

Was homeowner C.L. McClure still being threatened at the apartment complex near his home when he confronted the teens?.. when one teen apparently still had a gun?

Cases like these fascinate and divide the American public.

Remember Bernhard Goetz.. the so-called "subway vigilante."

25 years ago shot four teenagers who tried to rob him on a Manhattan subway.

Prosecutors tried to throw the book at Goetz.. and a jury let him walk.

And then this case from two years ago.

A Texas man saw two people robbing his neighbor's house.

Called 9-11 and told them he was not going to let them get away.. listen to what he told 9-11 who tried to talk him out of it.

He says, "They're getting away.  (Cocking gun) You hear the shotgun.. clicking and I'm going."

Joe Horn was cleared by a Texas grand jury.

Back here in Charlotte-- it likely won't be up to a grand jury but up to the Mecklenburg's district attorney to decide whether to prosecute 76-year old C.L. McClure.. for what started at his home.

The D.A.'s yardstick?.. attorney George Laughrun.

"General rule over there is.. their standard for taking a case for prosecution is.. is there a reasonable liklihood of success at trial?"

Police investigators continue to work on gathering evidence in the case.. they'll send their findings over to the district attorney's office.

A decision on whether the D.A. will move forward with the case is likely weeks.. maybe months away.