Killing of 17-year-old by girlfriend’s dad sheds light on right to defend home

GROVETOWN, Ga, (WJBF) – No charges have been filed, at this point  against Grovetown homeowner, Derrick Fulton.  Fulton shot and killed 17 year old Jordan Middleton early Saturday morning after he thought the teen was an intruder in his home.

Major Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spoke about what happened at the home on Coventry Avenue, “He knew there was a stranger in the house and he was protecting himself and protecting his family”.  The Major adds, “Whether inside of the home or not, an individual can use force to stand their ground and use force without retreating to protect themselves or a third party against a threat or a perceived threat.

NewsChannel 6 spoke with former Richmond County Assistant District Attorney, Mack Taylor, about the legality of how someone protects themselves while inside their home.  Taylor says, the threats can appear in many different ways, “An illegal entry, a trespass or something like that.  A homeowner can perceive that this person is coming in to offer violence against them and perceive that they are there to commit a felony.  If they are there to do any of those things, you can use force against that person.”

Taylor stresses that a jury must be convinced that the homeowner reasonably believed the entry was made to commit a felony.  In this case, according to Major Morris, Middleton didn’t just enter the home on his own.  According to the incident report, Middleton was invited inside by the homeowners  14 year old daughter.

In a written statement, homeowner Derrick Fulton says, his dog began barking which is what alerted him.  Attorney Mack Taylor says, while that may have happened the dog’s alert isn’t part of the jury’s considerations.  Taylor says, the jury would need to consider the point where Middleton made contact with Fulton and why Fulton made the decision to shoot his weapon, “Given that this event was occurring at roughly three o’clock in the morning, in a room that’s unoccupied and subsequently we find out as the homeowner enters the room someone springs from the closet I would think it would go to his reasonable belief that this person was there to do harm and commit a felony.”

The investigation into the shooting continues by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and again, no charges have been filed at this point.  NewsChannel 6 did reach out to homeowner Derrick Fulton and he stated he would appreciate privacy for his family at this time and prayers for both families.

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