Sarah McKinley is 18 years old. She’s the proud mother of a 3-month-old son. And this past holiday season has been extremely tough on her.
On Christmas day her husband died of complications stemming from lung cancer. On New Year’s Eve, two men attempted to break into her mobile home in Blanchard, Oklahoma. One of them was brandishing a 12-inch hunting knife.
When the two men, Justin Shane Martin, 24, and Dustin Louis Stewart, 29, arrived at McKinley’s home, they made it clear they wanted to get inside. According to court documents, they might have been looking for prescription drugs.
McKinley refused them entry. She not only locked her front door, but she put her couch in front of it to help create a barricade.
Then, she called 911. She asked the dispatcher to send help immediately. But it would be 20 minutes or more before a patrol car could reach her location.
Meanwhile, Martin and Stewart kept pounding at the door, trying to get inside.
It was at this point that McKinley realized that she would have to protect herself and her son.
She asked the dispatcher, “I’ve got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?”
“Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself,” the dispatcher is heard telling McKinley on the tape recording. “I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you have to do what you have to do to protect your baby.”
Shortly after this exchange with the dispatcher, Martin broke through the front door. McKinley fired her shotgun and killed him. Stewart quickly fled the scene.
McKinley did what she had to do to protect her baby.
Oklahoma has a Castle Doctrine statute that allows for the use of deadly force under the condition that, “The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or a place of business…”
Authorities confirmed that McKinley acted lawfully in defending herself.
“Our initial review of the case doesn’t indicate she violated the law in any way,” Assistant District Attorney James Walters told The Oklahoman newspaper.
As for Stewart, the intruder who fled the scene, he later turned himself in to the police. Prosecutors are charging him with first-degree murder.
“When you’re engaged in a crime such as first-degree burglary and a death results from the events of that crime, you’re subject to prosecution for it,” Walters said.
Stewart was arraigned Wednesday and was being held in the Grady County jail, according to the AP. A bond hearing was set for Thursday. His attorney, Stephen Buzin, did not immediately respond to a message left at his office Wednesday night.