Teen Burglars on Trial for Death of Accomplice during Burglary in Elkhart, Indiana

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It’s well known that confronting burglars in your home can be a formula for disaster – often with tragic consequences. In fact, we join with law enforcement to caution homeowners on a regular basis that if they know or even suspect that an intruder is present, call the police immediately and let them handle the situation: do not, under any circumstances, confront an intruder in your home.

Of course, you may not know that burglars have entered your home when you arrive – or even if you are already there. That’s where having a monitored home alarm system can be a real life saver, assuming it is properly armed – including where you are home. The noise of the alarm siren triggered by an alarm activation will scare many intruders off, and you’ll have the peace of mind you deserve knowing that police may be only minutes away – and headed in your direction. And speaking of tragic stories of homeowners confronting burglar, here’s a classic example from Elkhart, Indiana. But in this case, it was tragic for the burglars: one died, and one was injured. And when that happens, the accomplices are tried for murder.

Day two of the felony murder trial for three Elkhart teen began Tuesday morning after a prolonged jury selection that ran until midnight the night before. Tuesday’s trial day featured opening statements by both the prosecution and each of the three defending attorneys, as well as witness testimony from a handful of individuals—both law enforcement and civilian.

Prosecution’s Opening and Witness Testimony

“On October 3rd 2012, there were so many lives that were impacted, impacted in a way that I’m sure was not thought about, was not cared about when they all got up that morning. But on October 3rd a decision was made…to break the law. And as a consequence of that, we are here.” That’s how Chief Deputy Prosecutor, Vicki Becker kicked off the trial in her opening statement.

Background of the Crime

The prosecutor stated how five teens discussed ‘robbing’ the guy across the street and planned how it was going to happen. Prosecution continued establishing the scene by explaining how one of the five perpetrators, Levi Sparks, stayed behind with a cell phone to look out in case something might happen. Then, the prosecutor said the remaining teens knocked on the door of Scott’s home before going around back to an area that was “a little more secluded” for the break-in. “It was at that point,” said the prosecutor, “that Danzele Johnson used significant effort—he was a big guy” and kicked in the back door and an interior door of Scott’s home.

We know that this is a classic approach: knock on the front door first to see if anyone is home, then use forcible entry at the side or rear of the house.

What Happened Next

Leading the way Johnson and the three others went inside and proceeded to rummage through Scott’s possessions. As the four intruders were downstairs, Scott awakened from a nap, “felt a ‘boom’ and it startled him.’” When Scott heard a second loud noise, the prosecutor stated he grabbed not just his cell phone but a hand gun as well. “It wasn’t his first thought, but it was enough to provoke him to get his handgun,” explained the prosecutor. She said it isn’t one of Scott’s “fond” possessions but rather a “what if” possession.

Scott did dial 911 – but did not wait for police to arrive. Instead, he took matters into his own hands.

Scott said he loudly made his way down the stairs, armed with a pistol, and saw two individuals standing in the doorway to his spare bedroom, one in his kitchen and another in front of him. At that point in time all Scott remembers is firing his gun.

This story could have ended very differently for the homeowner: the teens were armed only with knives, not guns. But increasingly I am seeing reports on intruders being armed, often with firearms stolen in previous burglaries. This previous post tells of two confrontations that ended badly for the victims of the crime. And with so many burglars driven to crime by a drug dependency, is that the kind of person you want to confront in your home? I think not.

What You Can Do

The best solution is to have a monitored wireless home security system, especially one based on safer cellular monitoring, where no phone is required (and there’s no phone line for a burglar to cut). Does this article strengthen the case for monitored home security as a way to protect your home and family? We think it does. You deserve your peace of mind. Plus, we already know that a home protected by a monitored alarm system is only a third as likely to suffer an intrusion – so it just makes sense.

FrontPoint is on the case with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable. As the leader in wireless home security and the #1 rated alarm company in the US, FrontPoint is your first line of defense against residential intrusion, whether it’s the usual random offense by an amateur burglar, or a seasoned professional. Either way, you do want the protection of an alarm system – and you don’t want the confrontation.

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