Criminal defense lawyer says shooting off N. Wahsatch could fall under “Make My Day” law

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs man is facing a second-degree murder charge for shooting and killing a homeless man back in January.

A grand jury indicted 28-year-old Patrick Rau. Police say Rau shot and killed 37-year-old Donald Russell on January 19 after Russell entered a home converted into an apartment on N. Wahsatch and was confronted by Rau who lives in the complex.

Now criminal defense lawyers say this case may fall under the parameters of Colorado’s “Make My Day” law.

The “Make My Day” law was introduced in 1985. It justifies the use of force against an intruder inside a home, including the use of a deadly weapon. If they feel threatened, homeowners can face no legal charges if they choose to draw and use their weapon.

“A man’s home is his castle and it gives the property owner and the home owner the ability to protect their home from an intruder,” said criminal defense lawyer, Patrick Mika.

The law says a homeowner can only shoot if the person entering is unwelcome or if they feel their life or family’s life is in harm’s way.

“We’ve had cases in Colorado Springs where someone is trying to get in the door, is attempting to beat their way into door.” Mika said, “It doesn’t necessarily in my opinion mean that you have to wait breaks the plane of the door.”

The law gives full immunity for actions taken inside the home but it doesn’t apply outside like in your backyard.

In the case of the shooting on N. Wahsatch, the intruder was in what’s considered a common area of the apartment complex.

“I suspect that the defense will make an argument that this is part of the dwelling,” said Mika. “That part that is shared or used by the owner that’s connected to the home is part of the dwelling and therefore he has the right to protect himself.”

Rao has now been indicted on a second-degree murder heat of passion charge, which means there were highly provocative acts by the victim that stirred up a passionate response from the accused.

What that does is lower the potential consequences from a Class 2 felony to a Class 3.

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