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Murder suspect seeks immunity

Posted: Wednesday, Aug 7th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — A man accused of killing an alleged domestic batterer outside his trailer is seeking immunity from prosecution under Colorado’s “Make My Day” law.

Gregory Scott Carpenter’s defense attorneys are asking 12th Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift to determine if his case meets the law’s criteria. They say the court’s ruling would enable the defendant to make an informed, uncoerced and voluntary plea.

Under the Make My Day statute, an occupant of a dwelling in Colorado cannot be held liable for the deaths or injuries of an intruder, as long as three circumstances are in place.

To begin with, a court must determine if an intruder unlawfully entered the occupant’s dwelling.

It must also decide whether the occupant had reason to believe that the intruder committed — or intended to commit — a crime inside the dwelling.

Finally, it must consider whether the occupant believed the intruder might use physical force against anyone inside the dwelling.

In Carpenter’s case, prosecutors allege that the 50-year-old man shot and killed Jose Luis Fernandez outside the defendant’s home at the Wagon Wheel Trailer Park.

Defense attorney Terry Ryan told a lower court judge last month that Carpenter rushed outside his home on April 8 to the defense of a screaming woman in distress.

Carpenter said the shooting occurred in his front yard, just below the steps of his trailer. But authorities found Fernandez’s body about 16 to 17 feet away from the defendant’s residence, according to previous court testimony from former Alamosa County Sheriff’s Cpl. Gary Spangler.

According to Spangler, Carpenter said he never actually saw Fernandez strike, hit or attempt to hit the woman. Nor did he indicate that he saw Fernandez holding any weapons, Spangler testified on July 15.

At first, Carpenter said he acted out of concern for the woman, according to Spangler.

But the suspect later said that he shot Fernandez because he believed the man was coming toward his trailer, according to Spangler. Carpenter indicated that he didn’t want to get into a fight with the man, Spangler said.

Prosecutors went on to charge Carpenter with an enhanced count of second-degree murder. He remains free on bail, and is scheduled to appear in court at a Sept. 18 hearing on his attorneys’ latest motion.

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