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article image'Stand your ground' law could apply in Georgia shooting

By Karen Graham     Dec 3, 2013 in Politics
The "Castle Doctrine," or "stand your ground" law is legal in 46 states in the U.S. This legislation says that a man's home or any place he's legally allowed to be, can be protected with deadly force, if necessary, to protect a perceived or real threat.
The controversial "stand your ground" law is making news again, this time in Walker County, Georgia, where a 72-year old man with Alzheimer's Disease was shot and killed because neighbors thought he was trying to break into their home.
Georgia's "stand your ground" law was enacted in 2006, and in this case, it will be up to the District Attorney to decide if the incident fits the letter of the law while the case is being reviewed.
The victim of the Nov. 27, 2013 shooting was Ronald Westbrook, a retired Air Force pilot and one-time manager of the LaFayette-Barwick Airport in Walker County. Westbrook, a long-time resident of the community, lived with his wife of 51 years in a home nearby to where he was shot.
In their investigation of the events leading up to the shooting, Walker Co. Sheriff, Steve Wilson said it was determined that sometime after about 1 am in the morning, Westbrook had wandered out of his house with his two dogs, wearing only a light jacket and straw hat, despite the 20 degree weather.
It is believed Westbrook, lost, disoriented, and tired from walking over two-and-a-half miles, had noticed a porch light on at a home on College Crest Court. The home is part of a small subdivision west of Chickamauga. The couple living in the house had only recently moved in two-weeks earlier and did not know Westbrook, or that he had Alzheimer's Disease.
After hearing sounds of what was thought to be someone trying to break into his home, the owner, Joe Hendrix, called 911 at 3:53 am. While his girlfriend stayed on the line with the dispatcher, Hendrix found his handgun and stepped outside to look around.
Looking around a corner of the house, Hendrix saw Westbrook approaching him, and repeatedly asked him to stop. Westbrook, who according to his wife had so deteriorated mentally that he was unable to speak, kept coming. Hendrix then fired four shots, one hitting Westbrook in the chest.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation, and district attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin met with the sheriff and his deputies. According to the Sheriff, Mr. Hendrix was very forthcoming in talking to authorities about the incident. It was determined that based on the initial investigation of the evidence, and in talking with Hendrix, his girl-friend and the Westbrook family, that no charges will be filed at this time.
Sheriff Wilson stressed that the incident is still an open investigation. "I'm certain the district attorney will certainly take that code section, that law into consideration while he's reviewing the case," said Wilson.
More about stand your ground, Law, Georgia, Alzheimers, Florida
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