Jesus Ray Sanchez Jr., 43, allegedly broke into the home at 197 Indiana St. in Grand Junction, CO, last Friday. One of the two men inside the home shot Sanchez Jr. in the head, killing him.
The Mesa County Coroner’s Office listed the cause of death as a “homicide.” But noted that the word “does not imply any culpability and refers only to the strict definition of the word.” This, of course, raises the obvious question, was the killing of Sanchez Jr. a justifiable homicide? Moreover, was the use of deadly force against Sanchez Jr. legal under Colorado law?
To answer those questions, one has to examine the circumstances of the crime against Colorado’s “Make My Day Law.”
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told local reporters that when it comes to this ordinance, two criteria must be met for the law to apply: the intruder must be inside the home or dwelling and the DA must have a ‘reasonable belief’ that the person will commit a crime, the DA told reporters.
It should be noted that the crime of unlawful entry is not enough for the occupant to use deadly force, there must be ‘reasonable belief’ that the intruder intends to commit another crime against the occupant.
For those curious, here’s how the actual law reads, “Any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.”
As long as the shooter can show that he had ‘reasonable belief’ (for a deeper examination of this controversial term click here) that Sanchez Jr. intended to commit another crime or provide proof that Sanchez Jr. did, in fact, commit another crime while in the home, then the shooter should not be brought up on charges.
The shooting is still under investigation by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.
Once they have their findings, they’ll submit them to the DA who will review the case and make a decision about the charges.