Man Kills Suspected Intruders While Protecting Neighbor's Property

A jury will determine if a Texas man acted within state self-defense laws.

ByABC News via logo
February 18, 2009, 11:59 AM

Nov. 17, 2007 — -- Texans are debating if a man who said he was defending his neighbor's property when he shot and killed two suspected burglars was within his rights.

Texas state law allows people to use deadly force in order to protect their property. And so far, Pasadena, Texas, resident Joe Horn has not been charged in the shooting deaths of Manuel De Jesus, 38, and Diego Ortiz, 30, earlier this week.

Horn, 61 ran out of his house when he suspected the men were attempting to burglarize his neighbor's home. He called 911 to alert authorities of the situation, and the conversation has been preserved on tape.

Joe Horn: Hurry up man. Catch these guys, will ya? 'Cause I ain't gonna. I'm gonna be honest with ya. I'm not gonna let 'em go. I'm not gonna let them get away with this.

The dispatcher begged him to wait for police instead of taking any action.

Horn: You hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going.
911 Dispatcher: Don't go outside.

On the recording, Horn can be heard threatening to shoot the men if they move.

Horn: Move, you're dead.

Still, Horn's attorney insists his client is not an out-of-control vigilante.

"Joe is not a vigilante," said the attorney, Tom Lambright. "He's not a Rambo. He is exactly the opposite of that. He's a nice, loving family man."

But Ortiz's wife, Diamond Morgan, said she believes Horn used excessive force.

"[Horn] said that he feared for his life. But he made the 911 call. And the dispatcher kept telling him don't go outside," she said. "I feel he wanted to shoot them anyway."

Police said a grand jury will determine if what Horn did was illegal.

Meanwhile, he has expressed some regret about what occurred.

"The events of that day will weigh heavily on me for the rest of my life. My thoughts go out to the loved ones of the deceased," Horn said in a statement to ABC News.