Pine Co. Sheriff: Suspects Broke into Home Looking for Pain Killers, 1 Shot Dead

Posted at: 11/14/2013 9:31 AM
Updated at: 11/16/2013 10:27 AM
By: Beth McDonough

23-year-old Gypsy Watt is dead, and a 16-year-old boy was arrested, then charged with burglary and assault on Friday. A cancer patient is shaken up after the two broke into his Pine County farmhouse around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

Police say the men, who were just out of jail, when they broke into 75-year-old Charles Carlson's home, on Fox Road near Sandstone. Both men have long criminal histories, and one had a gun.

Carlson struggled with the intruder and managed to grab his own gun. He shot one of the intruders, Watts, who died at the scene.

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole tells KSTP that Watts, along with the teen, went to Carlson's farm to steal his painkillers that he takes for pain associated with his terminal cancer.

The teen escaped and was arrested hours later behind a flower shop in downtown Sandstone. Two others were questioned and released.

Carlson is cooperating with investigators and is not likely to face legal consequences. The Sheriff says the shooting is believed to be a justified use of force.

Although the second suspect is only 16, authorities are pushing to have him certified to stand trial as an adult. If convicted, the penalties are much more severe in adult court than juvenile court.

The County Attorney will review the case to see if it fits the "Castle Doctrine". It's law in several states, including Wisconsin. It allows homeowners to use deadly force against uninvited intruders. Minnesota law requires more responsibility on the part of the homeowner or shooter.

"The reason that I call what we have in Minnesota, not the castle doctrine, not the stand your ground doctrine, but the reasonable belief doctrine, is because the words of the statute. You must reasonably believe that you are in great danger of great bodily harm or death or that you are trying to prevent the commission of a felony, in your place of abode, your house, where you live," said Joseph Daly, Emeritus Professor at Hamline University School of Law.

In 2012, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill that would have expanded Minnesota's deadly force doctrine to places other than just the home.

The current law is listed under 609.065, Justifiable taking of life.

It reads:

"The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode."

Watch an extended interview with Daly here.