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Man cleared in 2 suspects deaths

Tue., July 1, 2008

HOUSTON – A grand jury on Monday cleared a man in the shooting deaths of two suspected burglars as they left his neighbor’s house – a case that stirred a national debate over whether he was a vigilante or a hero.

Joe Horn, 62, shot the men Nov. 14 after he called authorities while the suspected burglary was in progress and declared his intention to kill them with his 12-gauge shotgun.

The 911 audiotape captured multiple warnings by the dispatcher, asking Horn to stay inside and telling him that, “Property’s not worth killing someone over.” But Horn grew agitated because the men looked to be getting away before police arrived. As the tape rolled, he went outside, shouted “Move, you’re dead!” and fired his weapon.

The incident in Pasadena, a city of about 140,000 east of downtown Houston, outraged some activists, who staged protests in the neighborhood. They claimed that if Horn – who was not arrested – were not white and his victims not dark-skinned, he would have been taken to jail immediately.

Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson said that he understood “the concerns of some of those in the community regarding Mr. Horn’s conduct,” but added that the grand jury thoroughly had reviewed the evidence and testimony before deciding not to recommend any charges.


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