Joe Horn – Stand Your Ground Case
Listen to 8:28 minute call to Emergency 911
Both cases start with 911 calls. George Zimmerman’s call is to “Non-Emergency 911″ to report a “suspicious person” compared to Joe Horn, who called into “Emergency 911″ to report a burglary in progress.
The November 14, 2007 call ended with the sound of Horn racking a shell into his 12-gauge shotgun followed by three gunshots that killed illegal Columbian imigrants Diego Ortiz, 30 and Hernando Riascos Torres, 38.
Seven months later Joe Horn was cleared by Harris county grand jury. The panel issued no-bill after two weeks of testimony. Joe Horn was relieved that his ordeal was finally over.
After the grand jury hearing, Harris County District Attorney Ken Magidson simply said, “In Texas, a person has a right to use deadly force in certain circumstances to protect property and that’s basically what the grand jurors had to deal with.”
As his lawyer Tom Lambright stated in news reports, Joe Horn “was trying to help police catch criminals” The criminals who Horn shot were the men he witnessed carrying property out of the home of his next-door neighbor.
Compared to George Zimmerman, whose intention was to report a suspicious person because of recent break-ins in his gated townhouse community, the difference is obvious. The suspicious person he reported was not carrying burglary tools or breaking the law. His “suspicious person” was carrying a bag of Skittles candy and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.
Paralleling Joe Horn’s case to George Zimmerman’s case, Zimmerman was released from Sanford police department without further detainment. Joe Horn was called to the grand jury and had to testify on his own behalf. He had to retain an attorney and spend two weeks out of his life to convince grand jurors he was not a vigilante.
Both George Zimmerman and Joe Horn were armed. Joe Horn shot and killed two burglars. George Zimmerman shot and killed one suspicious teenager. Both of these cases were the cause of rancorous public debate. Initially both shootings were deemed racially motivated George Zimmerman was called out by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the new black panthers. There were protest nationwide demanding his arrest.
In Joe Horn’s case and subsequent to the grand jury announcement, Frank Ortiz, a member of the local League of United Latin American Citizens chapter, on the behalf of Ortiz and Torres, said he hoped federal authorities would investigate Joe Horn’s case further.
Although there are some similarities, there are a few differences as well. Joe Horn shot two men in his front yard. George Zimmerman was simply driving by when he spotted what he determined to be a suspicious person walking through his gated townhouse community, the suspicious man lay dead near a paved walk through, no where near the home of George Zimmerman.
Like Zimmerman’s case, the sound of gun fire can be heard in 911 calls. In Horn’s 911 call, you can hear the sound of him loading a shotgun — he verbally warns the dispatcher of what he intends to do and then fires.
In Zimmerman’s 911 call, he doesn’t mention that he’s carrying a Kel-Tec 9mm handgun to the dispatcher so he cannot be warned to not shoot. The only sounds of gunfire heard in a 911 call are from another 911 call made by a neighbor who was calling to report a disturbance from the sound of scuffling and someone screaming for help.
At this time, George Zimmerman’s statements have not been released to the public but it is rumored that he claims he was attacked by the suspicious person and shot him in self-defense. Zimmerman suffered a broken nose and scrapes to the back of his head, said to be from being bashed on the pavement during the scuffle. Zimmerman refused medical treatment at the hospital the night of the shooting.
Comparing Zimmerman to Garcia
In March of 2012, the State of Florida tossed out a second-degree murder charge in the case of Greyston Garcia after he chased a suspected burglar and stabbed him to death. Pedro Roteta, 26 was trying to steal a radio from Garcia’s truck when a roommate alerted him. He then grabbed a knife and chased Roteta for over a block.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom decided the stabbing was justified because the burglar had swung a bag of stolen car radios at Garcia, an object that medical examiner at a hearing testified could cause “serious harm or death”. The judge found Garcia was well within his rights to pursue the victim and demand the return of his property. The Huffington Post concluded in their article, Garcia went home instead of calling 911 after the confrontation in January and later hid the knife and sold two of the radios.
In comparison to the Garcia shooting being thrown out under Florida Stand Your Ground Law, Pedro Roteta was in the act of committing a crime against Garcia whereas Trayvon Martin was not in commission of a crime when he caught the attention of George Zimmerman. It’s what happened minutes after the call that is debatable.
Can the state of Florida refute beyond a reasonable doubt that the “suspicious person” attacked George Zimmerman first or will it matter? Perhaps the state of Florida intends to prove it was Trayvon Martin, the suspicious person who was standing his ground considering he was not in any way breaking the law. He had reason to be inside the gates of Retreat View Circle community when he was aggressively being followed by a stranger.
Although usually juvenile records remain sealed in court proceeding. If left up to the Martin family, they may agree that in the case of the death of their son, they may welcome full disclosure and may perhaps want the jury/judge to know that their son had a violence-free arrest record.
The outcome of this tragedy will depend on competency of state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda and the lawyerly wiles of defense attorney Mark O’Mara in order for George Zimmerman to share the same fate of Greyston Garcia and Joe Horn.
George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder. He is now in Seminole county jail awaiting a new bond hearing set for June 29th. The trial is set to take place in mid-2013 in the courtroom of Judge Kenneth Lester Jr.
Transcript of George Zimmerman’s 911 Call
Case of Greyston Garcia