Under the “castle doctrine,” a Montana law passed in 2009, Mr. Harper was perfectly within his legal rights to gun down the unarmed Fredenberg simply because Fredenburg was on his property. Essentially, under this law, it says that if a person can reasonable assume that they are at risk, then they have the right to defend themselves, their families, and their homes or their ‘castles’ (as in ‘a man’s home is his castle’) with deadly force. Had Mr. Fredenburg been shot a few feet away on the sidewalk, Harper would be prosecuted for murder.
This case is now being compared to the February shooting of Treyvon Martin by George Zimmerman under the ‘Defend Your Ground’ law.
Twenty states currently have ‘castle doctrine’ type laws allowing homeowners to defend themselves with extra vigilance. Proponents of the law claim that it allows families to better defend against intruders; however opponents say that such laws are licenses to kill.
On October 9, the Flathead County district attorney decided not to file charges against Mr. Harper.