Skip to comments.Jury clears homeowner who took cop for intruder
Posted on 01/29/2006 8:11:09 PM PST by freepatriot32
A little more than two years ago, Mario Barcia Jr. was awakened in the dead of night by banging on his door. Startled -- and shaken from two previous robberies -- he grabbed his gun and ran to the front of the house. Within a matter of seconds his life would change forever. Seeing what he described only as a bright light shining through his back door, Barcia fired a single shot. Five shots were returned. Then Barcia fired twice more. His first shot had hit Miami-Dade County police officer Chad Murphy in the back.
Barcia was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, a crime that could have left him imprisoned for life. Murphy, wearing a flak jacket, survived with a bloody bruise. On Wednesday, it took a Miami-Dade County jury less than 30 minutes to decide Barcia did nothing wrong in shooting Murphy, who had entered Barcia's property without permission or a warrant.
But the cost to Barcia, a former Miami-Dade County Family Court clerk, and his family has been substantial: In the past two years Barcia has lost his job and his home, and had to serve house arrest while watching his now-19-month-old son grow.
Still, between hugs from family members on the third floor of the county criminal courthouse, Barcia said he holds no grudge against the state for pressing forward on what he considered an unfair case. ''I'm just glad it's behind me,'' he said. ``They were just doing their jobs. I just wish they'd have been honest.''
Barcia's story began well before the early morning of Oct. 24, 2003, when he shot Murphy. Twice, his South Dade home at 11941 SW 208th St., had been vandalized. Fearing for his well-being and that of his then-pregnant wife Mercedes, Barcia bought a gun in August 2003. Two months later Sgt. David Dominguez and police officer Thomas Wever were driving down 208th Street near Barcia's home when they heard what they thought was a rock hit their car. They decided to search for who did it, and called for back up. When help arrived, Murphy and Dominguez made their way over a wall and into Barcia's yard. Both had bright flashlights. At one point Murphy entered a screened porch where French doors led into the home, while Dominguez waited outside it. About the same time, other officers were banging on Barcia's front door. The noise woke him up.
That's where the state's and Barcia's stories differ. The state claims Barcia peeked out the front window, realized there were police officers there, and shot at an officer outside on purpose. During the fracas, his wife dialed 911. At one point the operator told Barcia he may have shot a cop. Barcia is heard clearly on the tape saying it was a burglar.
Barcia's attorney, Ronald Lowy, told jurors a different version of events: By the time Barcia made his way to the front of the home, the knocking had stopped -- and all he saw was a bright flashlight pointed directly at him through the window. Lowy highlighted that point during closing arguments, shutting off the lights in Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez's courtroom, then shining the bright light into the eyes of each juror for a few seconds. It was impossible to see who was behind the flashlight.
''When someone comes into your house, over a 7-foot fence at 12:40 a.m., you don't expect it to be the police,'' said Lowy. ``They were unlawfully there.'' Before the jury left to consider their verdict, Judge Rodriguez explained it is contrary to law for a police officer to enter a private residence without a search warrant or permission from the homeowner unless it's a very unusual circumstance.
If Barcia had a reason to believe a felony was being committed on his property, or that his or others lives were in danger, the judge added, he could legally fend for himself.
I'm sure that since they were illegally there and broke into themans house and then lied about it under oath the persecuter will now go after the cops with the same zeal that he went after the homeowner with and try to get them much the same sentence right /sarcasm
Thanks goodness the officer was wearing his vest. If I was Mario, I'd move far away.
Some animals are more equal than others.
It only took 30 minutes to reach a verdict. Sounds like it should have never even been tried.
Well, I feel sorry not only for this man, but also for FL taxpayers who had to fund his trial. Prosecutors have way too much discretionary power, unfortuantely it is not coupled with a whole lot of common sense.
I'm confused. If a flashlight is being shown in his face how does it happen that he shoots the policeman in the back?
He fired once, then fired twice more after the police returned fire. I'd guess that shot to the back was while they were diving for cover.
TOO BAD JURIES IN MISSISSIPPI DONT HAVE THIS MUCH COMMON SENSE IN SAME SITUATION
FREE CORY MAYE
Yes, if the guy is smart, he'll move out of state. On the other hand, since the cop lived, he might not be gunned down during a traffic stop.
Was this an intruder or a cop?
No doubt he was an intruder, probably what we call a jack booted thug.
Ah, the perfect Perry Mason moment.
Might want to keep a shot of something stiff nearby as you read this one.
Over the course of researching my paper, I came across the case of Cory Maye. Maye today sits on Mississippi's death row, convicted of capital murder for shooting police officer Ron Jones. It's probably worth mentioning that Jones is white, and Maye is black. It's probably also worth mentioning that at the time of his death, Jones' father was police chief of Prentiss, Mississippi, where the shooting took place. The jury that convicted Maye contained two black women, but was otherwise white.
Here are the details, culled from various media reports and conversations with a couple of people close to the case:
Sometime in late 2001, Officer Ron Jones collected a tip from an anonymous informant that Jamie Smith, who lived opposite Maye in a duplex, was selling drugs out of his home. Jones passed the tip to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force, a regional police agency in charge of carrying out drug raids in four surrounding counties. The task force asked Jones if he'd like to come along on the raid they'd be conducting as the result of his tip. He obliged.
On the night of December 26, the task force donned paramilitary gear, and conducted a drug raid on Smith's house. Unfortunately, they hadn't done their homework. The team didn't realize that the house was a duplex, and that Maye -- who had no relationship with Smith,-- rented out the other side with his girlfirend and 1-year-old daughter.
As the raid on Smith commenced, some officers - including Jones -- went around to what they thought was a side door to Smith's residence, looking for a larger stash of drugs. (Note added on 12/12: This is Maye's first attorney's account of the raid. Police did have a warrant to both residences, though Maye wasn't named in either.) The door was actually a door to Maye's home. Maye was home alone with his young daughter, and asleep, when one member of the SWAT team broke down the outside door. Jones, who hadn't drawn his gun charged in, and made his way to Maye's bedroom. Police did not announce themselves. (Note added on 12/09/05: Police said at trial that they did announce themselves before entering Maye's apartment -- Maye and his attorney say otherwise. I'm inclined to believe Maye, for reasons outlined in this post. However, even if they did, announcing seconds before bursting in just before midnight, isn't much better than not announcing at all. An innocent person on the other end of the raid, particularly if still asleep, has every reason to fear for his life.). Maye, fearing for his life and the safety of his daughter, fired at Jones, hitting him in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest. Jones died a short time later.
Maye had no criminal record, and wasn't the target of the search warrant. Police initially concluded they had found no drugs in Maye's side of the duplex. Then, mysteriously, police later announced they'd found "traces" of marijuana. I talked to the attorney who represented Maye at trial. She said that to her knowledge, police had found one smoked marijuana cigarette in Maye's apartment. Regardless, since Maye wasn't the subject of the search, whether or not he had misdemeanor amounts of drugs in his possession isn't really relevant. What's relevant is whether or not he reasonably believed his life was in danger. Seems pretty clear to me that that would be a reasonable assumption.
It apparently wasn't so clear to Mississippi's criminal justice system. In January of last year, Maye was convicted of capital murder for the shooting of Officer Jones. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.
The story gets more bizarre from there.
Maye's attorney tells me that after the trial, she spoke with two jurors by phone. She learned from them that the consensus among jurors was that Maye was convicted for two reasons. The first is that though they initially liked her, Maye's lawyer, the jury soured on her when, in her closing arguments, she intimated that if the jury showed no mercy for Maye, God might neglect to bestow mercy on them when they meet him in heaven. They said the second reason May was convicted was that the jury felt he'd been spoiled by his mother and grandmother, and wasn't very respectful of elders and authority figures. The facts of the case barely entered the picture. Gotta' love the South.
It gets weirder. Maye's family terminated his trial attorney after he was convicted. In her place, they hired a guy from California with no legal experience who convinced them that he'd had bad representation (given his lawyer's closing argument, he was probably on to something). The new fellow has since failed on several occasions to file the proper appeals.
Maye's case is an outrage. Prentiss, Mississippi clearly violated Maye's civil rights the moment its cops needlessly and recklessly stormed his home in the middle of the night. The state of Mississippi is about to add a perverse twist to that violation by executing Maye for daring to defend himself.
Posted by Radley Balko on December 07, 2005 | TrackBack
Reno's BATF in border patrol garb...
How many burglars go around with bright flashlights and shine them at people?
I think Mr. Barcia may have just been so scared about it being a burglar, he wasn`t thinking clearly.
It also seems the police did not identify themselves, as they should have.
Sounds like a big mess that could have been avoided on many levels.
Score one for freedom.
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