Castle doctrine may cover Winston-Salem shooting suspect

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WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Kashif Lang is in the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center, charged with voluntary manslaughter and shooting into an occupied vehicle after he shot and killed an 18-year-old and injured a two-year-old Monday afternoon.

According to police, a dispute between two groups of teens boiled over Monday at the Lexwin Baptist Church in the southern part of town.

“The two groups met earlier in the day and some words were exchanged,” said WSPD Capt. Connie Southern.

The fight moved a few blocks away to Lang’s home on MacArthur Street, which is where the state’s castle doctrine may come into play.

According to police, Jashun Ingram and his group were using objects to break windows and try to get into Lang’s house. As Ingram approached a door or window, Lang fired and killed Ingram.

The castle doctrine is a common law concept that the occupant of a property has the right to defend him or herself against someone illegally trying to enter the premises.

As Winston-Salem defense attorney John Fitzgerald puts it: “If you see someone illegally breaking into your house or your garage you’re now allowed to use defensive force including deadly force if necessary.”

Fitzgerald is not at all affiliated to this case.

The North Carolina General Assembly codified it into law, and that law expanded its scope in December.

Previously, an attacker had to be in the home for the protective law to apply. Since December 1, 2012, the law includes “curtilage” in the definition of property.

“Curtilage is anything surrounding  a house that could be a part of the house or could be a part of the property itself,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said there are exceptions to the law. For example, if a law enforcement officer or bail bondsmen approaches the house when legally performing his or her duties, the property owner is not allowed to harm the intruder.

The law also does not apply if the would-be intruder has stopped his or her attempt to enter or is walking away from the house.

Was Jashun Ingram, destructive object in-hand, attempting to break into Lang’s house to assault him? Or was he just standing there in front of a broken window when Lang decided to fire on him?

That’s a question police and attorneys will have to answer. The charges so far may indicate either what they think happen or what they think may stick.

Voluntary manslaughter is a less serious charge than murder.

“The legal definition of voluntary manslaughter is to kill without malice,” Fitzgerald, the attorney, said. “So you may mean to shoot someone but you may not mean to kill them.”

Capt. Southern said a meeting with prosecutors Tuesday afternoon produced no new charges. She also said that is subject to change if police discover more information in the investigation.

The two-year-old child that Lang is accused of shooting suffered non life threatening injuries.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center treated the little girl and she has since gone home.

Police would not explain the relationship of the child to the suspects not why she was in a car during the incident.

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