GOSHEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Vigilante or victim? That’s what a local jury is working to determine in the case of a man who many in the community consider a hero.
Jurors were considering the case of an Orange County property owner who shot and killed a fugitive who twice eluded police.READ MORE: Wild Roll To Win Against Devils
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the defendant said he shot in self-defense.
Three years after killing a fugitive near his Orange County home, David Carlson will finally find out if the law considers him a vigilante or a victim.
Carlson said he was trying to protect his family and turn Norris Acosta Sanchez in to police when the man lunged at him, forcing him to use his shotgun. The multi-year legal struggle has been costly.
“He’s very stoic, lost everything, lost his house, lost his farm, lost everything,” defense attorney Michael Mazzarello said.
The state said Sanchez — wanted for having sex with a 14-year-old girl — was hiding out in the woods near Carlson’s home, unarmed and harmless, despite eluding a manhunt the day before, and escaping custody before that.
Assistant DA Timothy Ward told the jury during closing arguments that Carlson was a ‘police buff’ a cop wannabe who tried to take the law into his own hands. Ward claimed Carlson marched Sanchez to a nearby road at gunpoint and shot when the fugitive tried to bolt.READ MORE: DeRozan, LaVine Help Bulls Hang On To Beat Knicks
“He panicked. He reacted to the movement and shot him. Freaking out is not a justification,” Ward said.
He told the jury that days after the killing in 2013, neighbors said the entire area was on edge, because of the manhunt and the at-large fugitive.
“We were really frightened staying there that night, because the guy’s on the loose. Police lost him,” Amy Mann said.
“I didn’t see a murder happen. That’s as far as I’m going to go. I can tell you the community was in fear. I can tell you David wasn’t the only one who armed himself,” Carmine Ferrera said.
In the eyes of the state, the wanted fugitive became a murder victim. Sanchez’s family, including his mother, left court without comment and said they’d wait for the verdict.
Carlson’s team seemed exhausted to see their long legal struggle finally coming to some kind of conclusion, despite the toll it’s taken on their client.MORE NEWS: Karlsson Scores In OT To Give Sharks Win Over Islanders
“It’s been a long haul, very stressful for him and we worked very hard for him, and he’s been a very special client for all of us,” defense attorney Ben Osterer said.