Case of the Week : State v. Neames: Home Invasion

Case Of The Week With comments by Andrew Branca.

Aaron Neames was the homeowner defendant
Aaron Neames (right) was the homeowner defendant and later arrested.

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- This week’s case of the week is, unusually, not an appellate court decision, but rather a recently concluded trial out of the town of Walker, Louisiana, which was brought to my attention by one of our Law of Self Defense Instructor Program graduates, and that I felt raised some interesting legal issues. The case involves a homeowner who successfully disarms a home invader, and then seizes defeat from the jaws of victory by exceeding the boundaries of lawful self-defense.

Aaron Neames was the homeowner defendant in this case, and he was away from his home when the invasion took place. The home invader and the victim, in this case, was one Benjamin Jarreau, and he entered the Defendant’s home armed with a rifle and the intent to rob the Defendant.

Although the Defendant was not home, three other people were at the premises, and the home invader fired his rifle into the sofa on which they were sitting in order to compel their compliance with the robbery. The home invader took their cell phones and was rummaging through the house for valuables when the Defendant returned home.

Confronting the Defendant, the home invader fired a rifle round into the floor at the Defendant’s feet, again in order to compel compliance, but things quickly went sideways for the home invader. The Defendant and others in the home managed to disarm the home invader of his rifle, produced a pistol on their own, forced the home invader to his knees and began pistol-whipping him about the head.

Somehow the home invader manages to escape from the Defendant’s home, and runs outside and gets into his car.

Right up to this point we have a pretty big self-defense and defense of others win, having neutralized a long-gun armed home invader and expelled him from his premises all without anyone getting shot or killed, although granted the pistol whipping likely goes a bit too far. Unfortunately, then things go sideways for the Defendant, solely as a result of poor decision-making on the Defendant’s part.

Rather than simply allow the home invader to drive away, and call the police to report the home invasion, the Defendant followed the home invader outside to his car, and fired six rounds into the vehicle, striking the now fleeing home invader in the elbow and arm.

The Defendant was charged with attempted second-degree murder, and brought to trial. (The home invader was also charged, with home invasion, false imprisonment, and armed robbery, but took a three-year plea deal. He would testify against the Defendant at trial.)

Ultimately the jury found the Defendant guilty of second-degree manslaughter, and a few days ago he was sentenced to three years in prison.

So, a few take-home lessons from this case.

First, perhaps not surprisingly the Defendant was targeted by the home invader because the Defendant was apparently a drug dealer from whom the home invader had made previous purchases—just a couple of months prior to his trial the Defendant was reportedly arrested with a pound of marijuana, which I’m told is quite a bit of weed. Drug dealers are pretty attractive robbery targets because they tend to have lots of drugs and cash on hand, and tend not to want to report a theft of their drugs to the police. So, first thing, don’t be a drug dealer.

Second, much of the media coverage of this case carried headlines asserting that this case “tested the limits of Louisiana’s stand your ground laws.” If you’re pursuing somebody after they no longer represent a threat, “stand-your-ground” is entirely irrelevant. Stand your ground does not equal pursuit of a neutralized threat.

Third, the law of self-defense allows the use of defensive force against an imminent threat, meaning a threat that’s actually taking place or immediately about to take place, and you can continue to use force so long as the threat continues to be present or imminent. Once the threat has been neutralized, however, either by your use of defensive force or simply because the threat is fleeing, your privilege to use force has ended. Indeed, once the former attacker is in flight he’s arguably regained his innocence for use-of-force purposes moving forward, and the pursuer has now become the aggressor in a second confrontation. That means that other person can now justify their use of force in resistance to you as self-defense, whereas you cannot justify their use of force against them.

Fourth, the Defendant was found guilty by a 10-2 jury vote. In 48 states, you can be found guilty of a felony only if the jury unanimously agrees that the prosecution has proven each and every element of the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If your defense lawyer can raise a reasonable doubt in even ONE juror’s mind, you end up with a hung jury and a mistrial. You can always be tried again by the prosecutor after a mistrial, but at least you haven’t been convicted yet. In Louisiana, where this trial took place, however, and also in Oregon, felony convictions can be achieved by a supermajority vote of 10 out of 12—which means the prosecution can afford to have as many as two jurors have a reasonable doubt of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and still obtain a conviction. That obviously makes things much easier for the prosecution and much more challenging for the defense.

Finally, if you’d like to read more about this case and the underlying events, which took place in Walker Louisiana, simply point your browser to http://www.lawofselfdefense.com/walker.


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  • 21 thoughts on “Case of the Week : State v. Neames: Home Invasion

    1. Wrong Wrong Wrong jury decision. The perp was armed had committed a violent act with a firearm. He was escaping, the home owner had a duty to stop a violent and armed individual. This individual could possibly injure another person in his attempt to get away.

      1. @eaglesnester, I really wish that I could agree with you … but No. You write, “… the home owner had a duty to stop a violent and armed individual.” Under this set of circumstances, no such duty exists. You add, “This individual could possibly injure another person in his attempt to get away.” Although an excellent observation, still, no such duty exists.
        Please see Robinson on Criminal Defenses.

    2. This is sad, the defendant was clearly suffering from temporary insanity having just been shot at as well as piss poor legal representation.

      Did he know of the guy had another gun, fleeing felon, did he order him to stop?

      I am never in favor of anyone being given a plea to testify. It’s just like those facing drug charges unless they turn in a buddy, so they make up an address where the local yokels bust in in the dead of night and get shot when homeowner wakes up to a no knock homeinvasion…..
      If they had shot and killed him disarming him, legal shoot, jacked up on adrenaline chasing him down, bad shoot.
      Not gonna lie, this sucks. Now homeowner needs to file civilly against invade for putting him in that position.

    3. Too bad he didn’t have a better attorney, but then again, who can afford tens of thousands of dollars to fight an anti 2A government which has almost unlimited tax dollars to prosecute the very people who pay taxes! (yes I know according to the article the guy was a drug dealer and no they don’t report income from drug sales. Unless they are really stupid.) However, I want to make a correction. The writer said once the threat has ended you no longer have the “privilege” to use force to defend yourself. Wrong. Self defense is a God given “right”, not a privilege given by man. And yes once the threat has ended, you must stop all defensive action but you are allowed to hold the invader(s) in check if the situation is warranted.

    4. The second article ( Law of self defense ) says Neames did not testify .
      HIs explanations would have been important to the jury …
      In such a case the decision not to testify by a defendant is usually due to a prior criminal record which would be presented by the State to impeach the credibility of the witness only if they testify .( though not explained in either article ) .
      The second article also states that Neames told Jarreau to leave and allowed him to do so …then …went outside and fired at him ..( the defense claimed that Jarreau was still a danger and “might have backed his vehicle into Neames ” but the articles do not state that there was proof presented that that happened ).
      So, there is a difference between a felon who is told to leave and is doing so and then shot …and a violent felon who after confrontation choses to flee and still may be armed and continues to be dangerous , which the defense did try to argue .
      Fatal force used to stop a violent felon fleeing from a crime scene is usually an acceptable defense ( the assumption being that the fleeing felon will continue to be a similar threat to others in the future if not stopped ).
      Once the “victim ” releases the perpetrator …the use of fatal force or attempt does seem to be a criminal act , the “release” being the obvious conclusion by the defendant/shooter that the home invader was no longer the threat which would have justified the shooting to prevent further violence against society .
      Also , the jury sat there for three days hearing things that are not in the articles and watching the defendant which is often a key .
      Even though the defendant did not testify ( perhaps due to prior criminal record , thus to avoid impeachment ) the Jury did hear accusations of criminal behavior from Jurreau , alleging that the defendant was a drug dealer, which the articles do not say was disputed , so the Jury was also deciding the fate of a person who was not a “good citizen “…which had to affect their determination .
      If the facts above were presented in Illinois , the verdict would have most likely been guilty of attempted murder.
      Manslaughter ( in Illinois ) means that the perpetrator did not have malice aforethought …but the actions resulting in the death were not justifiable …where one tells the “victim ” to leave after disarming him and the defendant then leaves the house and directs fire at a fleeing victim …that would seem to be malice aforethought .
      10-2 would make it easier !

    5. To: Prosecutor Apologist

      I say again – you have to be kidding me …

      10 out of 12 jurors agreed with the prosecutors that an armed home invader that shot, repeatedly, multiple times, into areas right next to his unarmed victims — was less of a threat to society than a homeowner that was just trying to keep the home invader there until police arrived ( if the homeowner had wanted him dead [by murder which the prosecutors over charged him with – or by attempted manslaughter – which 10 of the 12 jurors convicted him of] the armed home invader would have been dead.

      You are playing games by defending either this over charging – or by defending this conviction by 10 of the 12 jurors.

      Join the real world.

    6. I’ve seen enough of these stories to know that unless someone else was killed by the perp, NOT to fire on a fleeing perp, as the laws – often written by those with criminal tendencies themselves – favor criminals. Don’t like it or agree with it, but I have to recognize it as a fact. As far as the jury verdict goes, based solely on the story as written, were I on the jury I certainly would have been one of the 2 in the minority.

    7. While the perp (invader) was still in the house and armed, victim (homeowner) COULD lawfully have fired upon himand ended the perp’s criminal career forever. He would have been fully within the law… SYG, imminent lethal threat from armed and motivated perp, etc.

      A small handful of zip ties is a handy thing to have… once the perp had been subdued, two or three of those little things could have immobilised him to be held till LE arrived. Let him lay where he fell, his gun nearby which on one else had touched except possibly to kick it about ten feet away from the perp.

      Then, simply wait tilll LE arrive to escort him to his new home, the local GreyBar Hotel.

      But no, Homeowner had to, as the article so eloquently puts it, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by going all Rambo and “settling the score” outside the limits of the law. His bad…..
      Still, I’m surprised the jury did convict. Manslaughter? No one died. Isn’t there an out in Louisiana that allows for the use of lethal force to detain a perp from fleeing the scene of his active crime?

      I also think it dirty pool to allow the original perp a walk by turning State’sWitness. Ya think HE will present an accurate tale to the jjury? HE”S got a score to settle, now. Had I been on that jury I would have refused to take his testimony at face value, given the obvious bias against the man who interrupted his crime spree, and fired upon him.

      In the end, though, prolly both are dirtbags that need some time in the cooler to protect society at least for a season.

    8. You have too be kidding me.

      They found 10 out of 12 jurors who believed the prosecutors.

      If the defendant wanted this fool dead, he would be dead.

      All he (the defendant) was doing was keeping him there until the police came.

      The person shot was a home invader who shot next to people to induce them to surrender their property to the armed home invader.

      The defendant should have been given a medal for keeping this armed home invader from shooting at more people (after he drove away and evaded the cops).

      What is wrong with these people (the prosecutors and 10 of the jurors).

      The world has gone crazy.

      E. Bryan Hoover

        1. What, exactly is wrong – the homeowner had a gun – the home invader did not at that point stop the home owner- when the home invader stopped trying to drive away – the home owner stopped shooting – the only thing that stopped the home owner from killing the home invader was THE HOME OWNER …

          E. Bryan Hoover

          1. Sorry, I am a little slow, but I cannot understand your line of logic in your last response. I said “wrong, wrong, wrong” because there was no threat to the homeowner when the home invader drove off. What stopped the homeowner from killing the home invader was the fact the home owner was a poor shot.

            1. Do you not, repeat NOT, read the article ???

              The home owner was shooting into a car the home invader was trying to escape in.

              The home invader surrendered rather than continue to be shot at …

              When the home invader stopped trying to escape. the shooting stopped.

              Even someone as slow as you can understand that …

              E. Bryan Hoover

            2. @Brother Grim, This is a mere miscommunication. When I write something that does not contain a subject and a verb or mix my pronouns, people misunderstand me, too. I think that you are, both, getting to the same conclusion, but at this point the communications are so garbled that I am not sure the conversation can be saved.

    9. Seems two drug abusers – buyer and seller – were put away for three years less time off for who cares what. Good for the prosecutors.

    10. How can the defendant have been found guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter if the original perp was alive to testify against him at the trial?

      1. Could be a misprint, maybe 2nd degree attempted manslaughter. Sadly when your adrenaline is pumping your faculties are not always in the best condition to process a situation. Keeping a clear head is something that you need to train for. Had I been a juror I would have looked for a legal means to allow the victim to walk. I think a 3 year sentence was a bit much especially when you consider his actions sent a message to at least one criminal. Consider too that the only shots fired by the victim were into the perp. The perp fired multiple rounds inside the house at people to convince compliance. So overwhelmingly you can bet there was ample evidence that the perp would use deadly force. I wasn’t there but I bet that the perp may have reached over the back seat to grab another weapon to use on the victim. So many in and outs to this that could have possibly prompted the shooting.

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