Is Rancher Liable in Hudspeth County Shooting?
POSTED: Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 9:47pm
UPDATED: Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 8:43am
HUDSPETH COUNTY- Tonight, it looks like a Hudspeth County shooting victim will make it.
Hard to believe from the looks of the clothes Norberto Velez was wearing. Right now, Velez is in stable condition and expected to survive.
Velez and his son Norangel were gunned down yesterday. Tonight, the rancher who shot them on his property is having to answer some hard questions.
A quiet portion of Hudspeth County any other day, was anything but on Wednesday.
"Before we knew it, all we heard was gun shots and he unloaded a whole clip on us," Velez told us.
Norangel and his dad Norberto were looking for some land to buy. This is your first look at the ranch where the pair say they accidently trespassed, after making a wrong turn.
The Velez's tell us they made a wrong turn onto a road near the ranch. Although there aren't any private property signs posted, it doesn't look like your average public road.
But it was just a few minutes after they made the turn that the shooting started.
It was the ranch's owner who let the bullets fly. Norangel was hit once, with his dad taking the brunt of it. He was shot three times and his blood soaked clothes paint the picture of a gruesome scene.
"My dad was bleeding a lot. I thought we were going to die, I thought that there was no way we were going to get out of here," Velez said.
Norangel says he begged the rancher for help, and he agreed. The two injured men laid in the back of a minivan as the rancher drove them to the fire station in Fabens.
Quick thinking EMT's saved Norberto's life. But as the 56 year-old recovers, questions pop-up. Did the rancher have the right to shoot?
"Texas in 2007 passed a law called the castle doctrine," said Brock Benjamin, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney.
He brought our attention to this law. It says that a person can use deadly force to stop someone from entering a home, car, or business.
"If I think that you're getting into my vehicle, or you're around my vehicle, my house, or business, I can use self-defense if I'm reasonably justified in thinking that your going to enter one of those," Benjamin explained.
Texas Rangers won't release the rancher's name, so we can't ask why he pulled the trigger. The Velez's say they were not armed, and were not near the house when the shots went off.
"He's got a real tough case to show that he would be in fear for his life, if you're out in the middle of nowhere and it's you and these people and they're simply on your land," Benjamin argued.
Norangel Velez says the rancher's actions were inexcusable, and he sees only one reason for the violence.
"What he did was wrong and the only reason he shot is because he saw that we were Hispanic," Velez said.
The only people that can really decide if the shooting was justified would be a jury. But at this point, the Rangers have not said if the will charge the rancher.
We'll keep you posted.