Convenience store clerk convicted for shooting beer thief

This is a discussion on Convenience store clerk convicted for shooting beer thief within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Convenience store clerk convicted for shooting beer thief Update 11:35 a.m. A Travis County jury this morning convicted Juan Romero of murder and tampering with ...

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    Senior Member Array dldeuce's Avatar
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    Convenience store clerk convicted for shooting beer thief

    Convenience store clerk convicted for shooting beer thief

    Update 11:35 a.m. A Travis County jury this morning convicted Juan Romero of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the August 2009 shooting death of a man who had stolen a 12-pack of beer from the South Austin convenience store where Romero worked.

    Romero did not react to the verdict. Members of Jorge Vielma’s family began crying so loudly that they had to be escorted from the courtroom. Vielma, 22, died from a gunshot wound to the back after Romero followed him out of the store and began firing.

    The punishment phase of the trial begins this afternoon. Romero faces of up to life in prison on the murder charge and up to 10 years on the tampering charge, which stems from allegations that he hid bullet casings and altered a surveillance video taken at the time of the shooting. He could also receive probation because he has no prior criminal record.

    Earlier

    The Travis County jury in Juan Romero’s murder and tampering with evidence trial has sent a note to state District Judge Julie Kocurek stating that they are deadlocked. The note says the jury is split 10-1-1 without giving further information, including which verdict the jury favors. Kocurek is expected to seat the jury in her courtroom soon and tell them to keep deliberating. The jury has been deliberating since 8:30 a.m. Thursday after deliberating for two hours Wednesday.

    Earlier, at the jury’s request they were again shown surveillance video taken at the store around the time of the shooting. It showed a man run from the store and Romero run after him — but cameras did not capture the shooting. Video also captured Romero smiling as he returned to the store, according to testimony of a police detective.

    Prosecutors argued that Romero, 24, shot Vielma out of anger after Vielma ran with the beer from the store at a Shell station on the southeast corner of Ben White Boulevard and South First Street.

    The shooting happened just before midnight Aug. 15, 2009, according to testimony. A police officer responding to a shots fired call asked Romero whether he heard or saw anything. Romero said he did not, the officer said.

    Romero’s defense lawyers argued he had the right to kill Vielma under Texas’ defense of property laws.

    Under Texas law a person may kill if he “reasonably believes” the force is necessary to prevent someone from escaping immediately after stealing from the person during the nighttime. The shooter also must believe that the property cannot be protected by other means and that he would be at risk by trying to get the property back using less than deadly force.

    Vielma’s body was found about two hours after the shooting inside his friend’s car in East Austin. That friend ultimately led police to the store, where they learned Romero was on duty around the time of the shooting.

    When police came to his house he gave them his 9 mm semiautomatic Smith & Wesson pistol and agreed to be interviewed.

    The interview was recorded and played for the jury.

    “Guy walked off with a 12-pack,” Romero said in matter-of-fact fashion. “I saw him… Shot one warning shot. He didn’t drop it, so I shot him. That’s it.”

    After the beer thief left in a car, Romero said he knew the man had been hit because he saw blood on the pavement.

    Romero told Det. Rogelio Sanchez that he fired 16 shots — he described himelf a “trigger happy” — and that he did not call police because police have done little in response to past complaints about thefts at the store. He said he believed he was within his rights to shoot the man under Texas law.

    Romero is free on bail and has been working at a Johnson City convenience store owned by Jose Carranza, who owns the store on Ben White Boulevard where the shooting happened.

    For a story on closing arguments in the case click here. For a story on Romero’s interview with police click here.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array dldeuce's Avatar
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    http://www.statesman.com/news/local/...r-1181843.html

    A defense lawyer told a Travis County jury Wednesday that convenience store clerk Juan Romero legally killed a beer thief in 2009 under Texas' property defense laws. But prosecutor Rob Drummond argued that Romero shot Jorge Vielma out of anger.

    Romero, 24, was frustrated that the South Austin store where he had worked had fallen victim repeatedly to people who took beer and ran out the door without paying, and he was frustrated that the police did nothing about it, Drummond said.

    "This had nothing to do with the 12-pack that Jorge Vielma dropped," Drummond said, "and everything to do with anger in that man's heart."

    Drummond spoke during closing arguments of Romero's murder and tampering with evidence trial in state District Judge Julie Kocurek's court. When he was done, the jury deliberated for about two hours without reaching a verdict. They will return today to continue deliberating.

    Romero's defense lawyers argued that he had the right to use deadly force to recover the beer that Vielma, 22, had taken from the store on the southeast corner of Ben White Boulevard and South First Street shortly before midnight on Aug. 15, 2009.

    "It's real simple," defense lawyer Pat McNelis argued. "You're allowed to protect your property in the state of Texas."

    He cited a Texas property defense statute that states that a person may kill if he "reasonably believes" the force is necessary to prevent someone from escaping immediately after stealing from the person during the nighttime. The shooter also must believe that the property cannot be protected by other means and that he would be at risk by trying to get the property back using less than deadly force.

    Defense lawyer Thomas Fagerberg said the lack of previous police attention to crimes at the store led Romero to believe that there was no other way to recover property.

    Romero is free on bail and working at a Johnson City convenience store owned by the same man who owns the Ben White store. He did not testify at the trial but told police the day after the shooting that he began bringing a gun to work because of the thefts and had previously fired warning shots at people at the store but didn't have the guts to shoot them.

    In a recorded video interview played for the jury Tuesday, Romero told a detective that he did not verbally warn Vielma and saw no weapon in Vielma's hand, but that he believed he had the right to shoot because it was at night.

    Romero said he fired a warning shot and then fired at the man, who dropped the beer. He said he fired 16 rounds in all and picked up the beer the man dropped and the spent shell casings afterward but did not call police.

    Romero said he later thought to himself that "I (expletive) someone over over $12" but that "it was his decision."

    Vielma was found dead in a friend's car about two hours after the shooting. A deputy medical examiner said he died from a single gunshot wound to the back that severed a vein.

    Romero faces up to life in prison on the murder charge. He is also charged with tampering with evidence, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence. That charge accuses him of concealing shell casings and surveillance video. Because he has never been convicted of a felony, Romero could receive probation if convicted.

    Romero told police he deleted surveillance video taken during the shooting, but police recovered it from a store computer, and it was played for the jury Wednesday.

    The video showed Romero running out of the store after a man who was carrying beer. Three cameras caught part of the incident, but none captured the shooting. One video showed that Romero was apparently smiling while returning to the store after the shooting.

    Drummond, the prosecutor, said during his closing argument that normal people don't smile after shooting someone in defense of property. Drummond said that Romero also chuckled while police interviewed him.

    "You saw from his demeanor ... from his look that this was about anger; it was not about defending property," Drummond said. "Under the law of the State of Texas, ... that's murder."

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    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    Tampering with evidence?? A 12-pack of beer??

    This 'clerk' gonna have a long ride up-river.
    "Just getting a concealed carry permit means you haven't commited a crime yet. CCP holders commit crimes." Daniel Vice, senior attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, quoted on Fox & Friends, 8 Jul, 2008

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    Well, Texas has some strange laws... However, tampering with evidence pretty much equates to guilt in the eyes of most juries.
    -Bark'n
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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    Shot in the back over a 12 pack?
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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    The clerk was wrong, but pardon me if I fail to have any sympathy for the dead thief.
    Smitty
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    Senior Member Array CCWFlaRuger's Avatar
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    Am I missing something? Was the perp trying to kill the clerk with one of the beers? Was he trying to kill someone else? When did a 12 pack become worth a human life?

    You have tape, you have a phone, call the police, that is what they do.

    Perhaps, had be not tampered with the tape, the jury could have seen him swinging the fill beer bottles, clearly a deadly weapon, at his head and he would not be going to prison.
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    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    Sixteen shots over a twelve pack? Bye bye.
    "I do what I do." Cpl 'coach' Bowden, "Southern Comfort".

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    Senior Member Array kb2wji's Avatar
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    ^ Yup

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guantes View Post
    Sixteen shots over a twelve pack? Bye bye.
    This.

    It's plain and simple.
    Human life is far more precious and rare than the value of six pack of beer.
    No thief deserves such treatment never mind the _death penalty_ (!) over stealing what is not even $20 in retail value.

    This is ridiculous, never mind the secondary non-reporting and tampering with evidence charges.
    An item of what NOT to do as the aggrieved.

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    Heck, 16 shots of the good stuff is worth more than a 12 pack these days. That was stupid anyway you look at it.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    I think that if I was on trial for murder I would like to be judged by the law, not by what the prosecuter was able to convince the jury was "right".
    We're all in favor of reducing violent crime. It's just that pro-gunners have a method that is proven effective. Anti-gunners don't.
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  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coder View Post
    I think that if I was on trial for murder I would like to be judged by the law, not by what the prosecuter was able to convince the jury was "right".
    What part of the law would that be?
    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    VIP Member Array Eagleks's Avatar
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    Not arguing he was right in shooting the guy, I think he was quite wrong... esp for a 12 pack of beer.

    But, based upon the "law" as written , I think it sounds like he has to be found innocent. And, the next shoplifter will know they can be shot as a result, if they do it at night.
    I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. --- Will Rogers ---
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark'n View Post
    What part of the law would that be?
    Um, "all parts". Is this a trick question?

    Eagleks' post pretty much sums up my thinking.

    The Texas law doesn't say "You can use deadly force to protect your property except:
    - when you're angry
    - when you shoot someone in the back
    - when you shoot 16 or more times
    - when you are stupid
    - when the property being stolen is worth less than $15
    - when you smile after shooting"

    I think this because the prosecutor (at least according to the info above) did not specify any such exception.

    I just don't know how you get this guy for murder. If Texans think that people should be put away for doing this, then they should change their law.
    We're all in favor of reducing violent crime. It's just that pro-gunners have a method that is proven effective. Anti-gunners don't.
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    John Moses Browning day is January 24th, 2011

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