Woman Killed Would-Be Rapist in Self-Defense

Aug. 19, 2002 -- It has to be every person's worst nightmare — waking up from a deep sleep to find a stranger standing over you.

But it really happened to an Albuquerque woman who overpowered and killed a convicted rapist after he broke into her home, climbed into her bed and held a gun to her chest.

The woman, who wishes to be identified only as "Mira," is a single mom and bookkeeper in her early 30s who said she acted only on instinct, and was driven by the desire to survive.

She told Good Morning America that she was home alone and was asleep in her bedroom about 1:30 a.m. on July 20 when she woke to find a flashlight pointed toward her face and a masked man straddling her in bed.

"After going to sleep, I was in the dead of sleep, I woke up with a man on top of me," Mira said on GMA. I immediately just had the reaction to get him off of me at that point he told me he had a gun and I felt it against my left chest. He was restraining me with both of his hands and the gun was across my chest and I just took my left hand and I started just pushing it away from me."

Mira started trying to push him off with her hands and feet, using some martial arts and self-defense techniques that she had learned years before.

"Do you want to die?" he asked.

At that point, something snapped and she sprung into action, Mira said. In what she described as something like "a dream state," she wrestled the .38-caliber revolver away from her 170-pound attacker and and rolled him onto the floor. She fired three shots at the man, striking him twice in the upper torso.

Convicted Sex Offender

The woman and police learned later that the man was 51-year-old Michael Magirl of Albuquerque, a convicted sex offender. Almost 20 years ago he was convicted of 33 burglaries in Clovis, N.M., where he raped a female Air Force captain while her children slept in an adjacent room. He only served half of a 31-year sentence.

Police say Magirl's car was parked about two blocks from the woman's home, and he had "rapist tools" with him, including a flashlight, gloves, and duct tape. Officers seized a backpack, a pillowcase and binoculars from the car.

Mira had just bought a home in Albuquerque, and was in the process of moving on the night it happened.

There had been a lot of workers in and out of the one-story house earlier that day, as she was in the process of moving in. She climbed into bed around 11:30 p.m. that night, after checking each door and window to make sure that they were locked. Police say that Magirl appeared to have forced his way into Mira's home through a sliding glass door, where pry marks were found.

After Mira fired the gun, she thought she had only injured Magirl. She pulled off his pantyhose mask, so she would be able to identify him, before running to a neighbor's house to call police.

Magirl died at the scene, and police have classified his death as a justifiable homicide. Police are now investigating Magirl in connection with other unsolved attacks in Albuquerque.