Broken Arrow Update: “Clear cut” Self-Defense, No Charges for Defender

Zach Peters used this AR15A2 or clone rifle to defend himself, his father and their home from three armed home invaders, in the unincorporated outskirts of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (a Tulsa suburb), on 27 March.

(Previous WeaponsMan coverage: They Brought Brass Knuckles, Knife to a Gun Fight (28 Mar 17); Broken Arrow OK Follow-up: Home Invasion as “Bad Decision.” (31 Mar 17).)

After an investigation, county police and prosecutors have termed it a good shoot, and announced that Peters will face no charges. The robbers’ accomplice, Elizabeth “Liz” Rodriguez, will still face a half-dozen charges including three counts of felony murder for the foreseeable deaths of her partners in their mutual criminal enterprise.

The Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office held a joint press conference on Monday and updated the press about the investigation and pending charges stemming from the deadly home invasion that happened in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma last week that left three teenage suspects dead and one in custody.

“We support of our citizens… the right to bear arms, and to defend their homes in this county. And in this such case, we feel strongly that that’s what took place here.” Sheriff Elliot said.

The shooting left three young men dead. The men had broken into a home outside of Tulsa on Monday March 27. They first burglarized the home on that morning, and then returned to the home a second time. The second break in ended when they woke up the homeowner, 23-year-old son, Zach Peters.

This is a new version of the story of the crime, but it was the story that Sheriff Chris Elliot told at the press conference, based on his department’s information. Rodriguez has said that they loaded up loot from the garage after breaking in there, and then the men went around to break in the sliding patio door in back.

Rodriguez believed that there were expensive items in the house, according to a witness Elliot chose not to name “because of an ongoing investigation.”

The intruders have been identified as Maxwell Cook, 19, Jacob Redfern, 17, and Jaykob Woodriff, 16. The intruders were wearing masks, and one was armed with a knife and another was carrying brass knuckles.

These names have been spelled several different ways. Two of them were shot dead in the kitchen, and one was shot there and one, believed to be Jacob Redfern or Redfearn,  collapsed on his accomplice’s getaway car and died.

 

 

 

 

Four minutes after Zachary Peters’s 911 call, the Wagoner County SD was on the scene; Broken Arrow city police responded at the same time and assisted. The three criminals were beyond medical intervention.

“It is the opinion of this office that Zachary Peters acted justifiably and in accordance with his rights as an Oklahoma citizen when he used deadly force to defend his home from the … burglary perpetrated by (the three decedents), and allegedly by Elizabeth Rodriguez,” First DA Jack Thorpe said. Thorpe also expressed the condolences of the DA’s office and law enforcement to the families of the dead, stressing that his sympathy was for the criminals’ families, not the late unlamenteds themselves.

We note that one of our readers, an attorney, reviewed OK’s felony murder jury instructions and thinks that these murder charges might not stick. It may be that Thorpe and Elliot are overcharging Rodriguez a bit. If so, they’re sending a message to the Tulsa criminal community.

Rodriguez has also admitted that the four had robbed many other homes — and expressed anger that Peters dared to be home, and was such a bum as to shoot her friends rather, apparently, than letting them beat or kill him. 

Not how the world works, kid.

“I won’t take responsibility for the murders, I won’t. I feel guilty, but I don’t feel responsible,” Rodriguez said in an interview with ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir.”

This appears to have been a local TV interview that was then “nationalized” by dubbing Muir’s studio questions over the no-name local reporter’s on the scene.

“I know what we did was stupid and wrong,” she said. “I don’t blame him… I understand why he did what he did. I mean, I do to an extent.”

Police say that Rodriguez planned the burglary, drove the three men to the house, and waited outside to drive them away. Rodriguez is believed to have made deliveries to the house, and knew the homeowner by name.

Deliveries of what, they don’t say.

District Attorney Jack Thorpe intends to see that Rodriguez does take responsibility for the deaths of the three men. And his office will not press charges against Zach Peters. When asked if that decision not to prosecute Peters was difficult, he said no. He described it as clear cut.

via Police Announce Fate Of Homeowner’s Son Who Killed 3 Home Invaders With AR-15 | Tribunist.

The press, who appear to sympathize entirely with the late unlamented Wealth Redistribution Technicians, don’t seem to grasp that an OK county is not going to back the criminals and charge the victims like a New York City DA would.

Andrew Branca would advise a potential self defender to “know the law so you’re hard to convict.” As Andrew explains it, the law comprises the black-letter statutes, but also court decisions and model jury instructions; over time, these always introduce subtle changes, and sometimes gross ones: they can even twist the law as practiced to the polar opposite of what the plain wording of the law says. We would add to his three legs of the pedestal that holds up the Scales of Justice for a home or self defender a fourth: the political. The political climate of a jurisdiction (NYC versus exurban Tulsa), and even the political ambitions of a given prosecutor (does the name Angela Corey ring any bells?) can give an extralegal twist to a legal proceeding.

Andrew, a lawyer who, in our opinion, loves the orderly and just administration of the law, may not incline to recognize these randomizing factors (after all, they take control out of the hands of a lawyer and client). But we’re not really free men until a Zach Peters can save his life in New York (or Newark, or Boston, or…) as readily as he can in freedom-loving Oklahoma.

29 thoughts on “Broken Arrow Update: “Clear cut” Self-Defense, No Charges for Defender

  1. John M.

    1) That is an old-school AR. I’d bet that wasn’t purchased during Obama’s administration. Is it Clinton AWB-compliant? I don’t see a bayonet lug, but I’m not familiar with the changes made to the AR platform during the ban.

    2) “These names have been spelled several different ways.” I’m shocked, shocked that the media is misspelling names. Or that the people they are getting them from can’t spell them themselves.

    3) “Two of them were shot dead in the kitchen, and one was shot there and one, believed to be Jacob Redfern or Redfearn, collapsed on his accomplice’s getaway car and died.” My understanding is that all three were shot in the kitchen: one DRT, one crawled off to a bedroom to die, and the last skedaddled to the street and (allegedly) collapsed dramatically on Girl Genius’s car and dramatically told her dramatic words to the dramatic effect of, “I’ve been shot! We’ve all been shot! You go on without us!”

    4) “Not how the world works, kid.” Well, it’s not how Wagoner County, OK works. Regrettably, it’s how far too much of the world works.

    5) “This appears to have been a local TV interview that was then “nationalized” by dubbing Muir’s studio questions over the no-name local reporter’s on the scene.” That’s got to burn the local reporter. Well, if he was looking for a more honorable profession, he could have gone into prostitution or joined the TSA.

    6) “Wealth Redistribution Technicians” It’s undocumented socialism. Bernie’s kids.

    -John M.

  2. Hayabusa

    Maxwell Cook, 19, Jacob Redfern, 17, and Jaykob Woodriff, 16

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. These little high-school dropout punks were going nowhere fast in life, except for a prison cell and/or an early grave; the only open question was how many innocent victims they would leave in their wake before reaching their final destination.

    Many thanks to Zack Peters for pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE on all three of them while they were still at the knives and brass knuckles stage of their criminal careers, and good call by the cops and prosecutors.

  3. Steve M.

    Glad to hear that he’s not being charged. I wish somebody would inform him that his rifle configuration is extremely outdated and not suitable for home defense. Of course that might have been the reason his home was selected.

    “Yo dawg, it’s an A2. Bro won’t be able to get his sights on us. 20 inch barrel be like way too long especially with that ole fogey fixed stock.”

    Seriously, regular folks ought to pay attention to this one. No flat top, red dot, four acres of rail space, picatinny, key-mod, or M-lok.

      1. "Greg"

        and/or “don’t bring a knife (or brass knuckles) to a gunfight” but then, perhaps the “youts” didn’t realize it was going to BE a gunfight? For that matter, “not suitable for home defense” might be better worded as “*less than ideal* for home defense” because clearly, in this 3 vs. 1 encounter, score is: good guys = 1, bad guys = 0 (for this round)

      2. Bret Stevenson

        …which he chose wisely. The end result is all the testimony that’s needed.

    1. Bret Stevenson

      You make a great point in the last sentence. Education, training & practice trumps excessive gadgets & gear.

  4. LSWCHP

    Jaykob. Says it all really. A good case of nominal predestination, if ever I saw one. I’m just surprised his mates weren’t named LaTrine and DeTroit or similar.

    1. Billybob

      I may be speaking out of turn LSWCHP, but having been around there off and on for many years. I can tell you the American Indian gangs tend to copy the black gangs rather than the Hispanic gangs.
      I know nothing of this case but I have been around all three groups. So maybe they are closer related than you think.

      1. John M.

        The black gangs have way better publicity than the Hispanic gangs, what with half of the American music industry and a huge percentage of Hollywood being devoted to the cult of the black gang.

        -John M.

  5. archy

    Now if we just happen to learn how many rounds he fired and what flavour of .223/5,56mm ammunition he used, we’ll know most of the usable lessons learned from the incident.

    1. gebrauchshund

      Number of rounds fired: Right in the sweet spot between not enough and too many.

      Type of ammo: In the given circumstances, didn’t much matter.

  6. Tom Stone

    One thing that can’t be emphasized enough is how well Zach Peters handled himself in dealing with the authorities, both during the 911 call and afterward.
    He acted like a sane and responsible adult throughout.
    It makes a big difference in any jurisdiction.

    1. James

      Tom,I agree,he made sure he knew when cops would enter so put down firearm,asked for emt’s,mentioned his dogs and that they were friendly(though my guess understandably freaked out at moment),yep,did very well including shooting.I am sorry for the guy as it seems he at least partially knew these folks but they came in armed to harm another so,they lost.

      I will say really hope never in this situation where I have to kill to defend myself or others,that said,if only reasonable option even if charged later due to living/being in a state that doesn’t feel strongly about self defense will be glad to be alive and deal with it,the alternative not too inviting.

  7. Boat Guy

    VERY glad to see this turn out properly. There are lessons to be learned for all who will take them.

  8. Ray

    He did so well because that happened at 12 to 14 FEET. There is a 99% chance that those three dead guys all had powder burns. He would have gotten the same result with a 870 riot gun, an AK or an M1 carbine. That was a “fight in a phone booth” pretty much the definition of CQB. No “cutting the pie” bullshit ether. That whole fight was over in less than ten SECONDS. What ammo , weapon or “tactics” he “used” are meaningless internet babble. He saw dark shapes. Center of mass. Shoot. 12 FEET guys. 12 FEET. Everything else is bullshit. Contact to resolution time under 15 SECONDS. That’s the only “lesson” to take away from this fight. He used what he had . Engaged and neutralized his enemy. The “takeaway” is this. “It is always the man that kills. What he uses to do it is just a tool”

    1. bloke_from_ohio

      Another instructive aspect is that he did not actually know he hit the third guy. All he knew was the fella took off running after things got loud. It is foolish to count that against him, but it talks to the chaos of the event.

      That chaos along with the earlier mentioned extremely compressed time span and the over all violence of the encounter flies in the face of the “why didn’t you shoot him in the leg” crowd.

      A lot of this blog’s readers understand interpersonal violence in an intimate way. But, those of us who lack such real world experience (for better and worse) must understand that fights in the real world are fast brutal and violent. This appears true whether they be fought with fists, firearms, or guided missiles. We should take those lessons learned the hard way by others and apply them to our own preparations. Furthermore since these lessons represent distilled reality, they should be applied in both the legislative/legal realm and the cultural one. A good dose of reality would go a long way in dispelling many myths and unrealistic expectations about interpersonal violence.

      1. Mike_C

        >the “why didn’t you shoot him in the leg” crowd.
        Who are eminently rational compared to the “why didn’t you engage in dialog and appeal to his better nature?” crowd.

    2. E Garrett Perry

      I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart!

  9. Aesop

    Huzzah. A place where commons sense is, and public servants do.

    But in the vein of “We should have gone all the way to Baghdad in Desert Storm”, it’s clear that Peters should have resumed shooting when the press showed up. Self defense is self defense.

    A wink from a pretty girl at a party results rarely in climax, but a man is a fool not to push a suggestion as far as it will go.” – Col. Max Radl

  10. Ken D

    Hognose,

    I just left a comment on the part 2 post about the applicability of the felony murder statute. It’s probably still in purgatory, because links, but short version: I’m no lawyer, so I very well may be wrong, but I think there’s something wonky going on with the jury instructions, but I think the felony murder charges may be applicable after all.

    1. JAFO

      Form jury instructions are often a reasonably good quick and dirty way to get the gist of the law, as they are a fairly authoritative source for how a judge instructs the jury. But they aren’t the law, which is the Constitution, and statutes, and previously decided cases. Checking the instructions is a good way to get a heads up, but where it matters one needs to look at the other stuff.

      In this case, the instructions say that the most recent revision of the OK Felony murder statute was intended to only cover crimes done by the defendant’s ‘co-felons’, which would exclude killings done in self defense by the victim. So far it seems clear that the fat girl wouldn’t have committed felony murder. But the notes to the instructions go on to cite a case where an OK court found a defendant guilty of felony murder of a cop who died in a shootout with the defendant’s co-felons, even though the forensics showed that the cop was killed by a bullet from another cop’s gun.

      No one can tell for sure now what the OK supreme court would decide about the applicability of felony murder under these facts. The concept of felony murder has ancient roots in Common Law, but the modern trend is to limit its applicability. Wikipedia has a pretty good survey of this. Perhaps it’s another instance of individuals being held to lower standards of responsibility for the consequences of their actions?

      The OK prosecutors are undoubtedly aware of all this, and their decision to charge felony murder is not at all unreasonable.

      1. Hognose Post author

        If nothing else, it stakes out their initial negotiation position when her attorney comes to call.

        Any defense attorney looks at this case and considers it a disposition case, not a case that’s inevitably going to trial. Perry Mason is a fictional character (and his invariably-innocent clients even more so!)

  11. Keith Z.

    “Deliveries of what, they don’t say.”

    From her looks I would guess she’s been delivering pizza.

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