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General News    H3'ed 1/5/11

Was Justice Done in Chicago "Dog-Urination" Murder?

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

A Chicago man last week was sentenced to probation for the murder of a neighbor who had allowed his dog to urinate on the man's lawn.

Charles J. Clements, a 69-year-old great-grandfather, was convicted in October of second-degree murder in the shooting of Joshua Funches, 23. The two men got into a confrontation on May 9 after Funches allowed his fox terrier to take a leak on Clements well manicured lawn.

While stating that a gun never should have been entered into the equation, leading to a fatal shooting, I was somewhat sympathetic toward Clements when we first wrote about this story. As regular readers know, I tend to be supportive of anyone who makes lawful efforts to protect their private-property rights--and early news reports indicated Clements was claiming self defense after Funches had threatened and punched him several times.

More recent news reports, however, give us considerable pause about Clements' actions. And it's hard to see how a judge could justify giving such a light sentence for what a jury determined was second-degree murder.

As we stated in our earlier posts, the incident could have been avoided if Funches, when confronted about the placement of his dog's pee, had simply said "sorry" and kept walking. Clements was within his legal rights to request that the dog, and its urine, stay off his property in the future--even if that request might seem over the top to many people, including me.

Clements, however, moved off solid legal footing when he decided to follow Funches down the street. Here is how the Chicago Tribune  reported the story last week, based on trial testimony:

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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