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July 03, 2012

Justifiable killings increase in Texas

HOUSTON (UPI) -- Killings in Texas ruled justifiable homicide are on the rise since the state expanded its "stand your ground" doctrine in 2007, FBI data show.

Justifiable homicides in Texas increased from 32 in 2006 to 48 in 2010, and about half of the killings in 2010 occurred in the Houston area, an analysis of the data by the Houston Chronicle indicated.

The newspaper said Monday the law, known in Texas as the "Castle Doctrine," has always allowed deadly force against intruders to protect lives and property, but it no longer requires a duty to attempt to retreat when facing imminent danger. Texas law also goes further than other states in allowing deadly force to stop arson, rape and burglary, it said.

Such killings have long been controversial, with national outcry over the use of deadly force by civilians.

"Even if someone is stealing from your front yard, and they are not threatening anybody, and there's no threat of being hurt at all, you can kill them," said Sandra Thompson, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

"Things police can't shoot you for, your fellow citizens can. This is just appalling," said Marsha McCartney of the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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