Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Monday, September 21, 2009

Self Defense? Student Slays Intruder With Samurai Sword

Johns Hopkins University police had alerted a student and his roommates to the possibility that there was a suspicious person lurking around their home and canvassed the area with the students before one of them killed an intruder with a samurai sword, Baltimore police disclosed late Wednesday.

Police also confirmed that the Tuesday morning encounter unfolded after the man lunged at the sword-wielding student. The new details shed more light on the circumstances that led up to the death of Donald D. Rice, 49, a repeat offender who had been released from jail over the weekend.

Police and prosecutors are considering whether to charge student John Pontolillo of Wall, N.J., after he killed Rice with a slice from the sword. I am thinking not. In the garage, the student told police he discovered a man and when the student told the man to get out, the man accosted him, Guglielmi said. The student defended himself with the sword, cutting off the man's hand and causing a severe laceration to his upper body, he said.

I took fencing at Camp Sequoia years ago. Plus, I watched a lot of Zorro. If you know how to handle them, swords can be dangerous. Better than a frying pan to disable an intruder. But seriously, the 'Stand your Ground' law gives you enhanced rights to defend yourself inside the curtilage and surroundings of your home. If you are searching out noises, and not knowing what is there, you grab a bat, a stick, a sword, and someone comes at you in the dark of night, you protect yourself anyway you can.

I am guessing that this John Hopkins student acted within the law, and in a way most of us, similarly situated, would have done. When you commit a felony and break into someone's home, there are never any guarantees, nor should their be, that a homeowner will retreat. You put your life at risk. This intruder, a repeat offender it turns out, paid with it. Tough break, but a life of crime may lead to a death because of it.

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