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Castle Doctrine applied in shooting case

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By Kristie Hamon

The Castle Doctrine was applied in a Bardstown shooting case that happened Wednesday night.

In the incident Wednesday, Nelson County Sheriff’s Deputies applied the doctrine and released Vernon J. Arnold who shot and killed his son-in-law, Randy T. Arnold, in their home.

The Castle Doctrine statute states that people have a right to “meet force with force” to prevent death or a felony.

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a felony involving the use of force.”

“It’s kinda the same statue in the (George) Zimmerman case,” attorney Chad McCoy said, in which the Stand Your Ground law in Florida was used. “The Castle Doctrine is one part of the self defense law.”

The main difference between the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida and the Castle Doctrine in Kentucky is that Stand Your Ground takes effect wherever an altercation may occur, whereas the Castle Doctrine focuses on the dwelling, residence or vehicle of the person who may have reasonable cause to fear and therefore take force.

“You’re allowed to use deadly force as long as you have an honest subjective belief that force is required,” McCoy said.

Other states have similar laws with different titles and qualifications.

McCoy said a key phrase in the law is that one is presumed to be afraid.

The statute states a person is presumed to fear imminent peril of death or harm when using defensive force that could cause death or great bodily harm if someone has entered a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle attempting to remove someone against his will or if one has reason to believe an unlawful or forcible entry or act was occurring or had occurred.

“I don’t really have to be scared, the law says I am scared,” he said. “The law says I am now presumed to have been under reasonable fear.”

The doctrine doesn’t apply if the person, who is causing the fear, has the right to be in, or is a resident of the dwelling, residence or vehicle such as an owner, lessee or titleholder. The statue states a few other instances in which the doctrine would not apply.

In the case of Wednesday’s shooting, one might suspect that Randy Arnold was neither an owner, lessee or titleholder in the house, for this doctrine to apply.

“It’s really just a law that goes to the one element of self defense that you have a reasonable or imminent fear of death or great bodily harm,” McCoy said.

During a press conference Thursday, Nelson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Mattingly said the department has used the Castle Doctrine at least three times since he has worked there.

McCoy said he hasn’t dealt with cases using the Castle Doctrine a whole lot. He said the law is actually pretty new, being instated in 2006.

“We don’t get a lot of them,” he said.  “We see more on the self defense part.”