Intruder killed in Essex Junction home invasion - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Intruder killed in Essex Junction home invasion

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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -

The 911 call came in shortly after 1 a.m. Friday morning from a 13-year-old boy who lives in the home at 135 Main Street in Essex Junction.

"The caller reported that he was awakened by his father who was screaming outside the residence," said Essex Police Chief Brad LaRose.

Responding officers found 40-year-old Shawn Garrett restraining a man on the front lawn. Garrett told police the stranger broke into his home and threatened him with a knife. Police say the two men started fighting and during the altercation Garrett stabbed the intruder.

Neighbor Levi Burleson says he could hear the struggle from across the street. "Then all of a sudden, not even five seconds after, some guy was screaming, 'Help, help, call the police,' and that went on for like five minutes and then it was quiet and then you heard one more scream for help and the cops were here," he said.

Investigators recovered two knives from the scene but are not saying whether the fatal stabbing occurred inside the home or on the lawn.

"He appeared to be dead. He wasn't moving. I stood here for ten minutes -- he hadn't been moving. The ambulance came through and they were asking the guy, 'Can you hear me, can you hear me?' There was no response and the body was totally limp," Burleson said.

Police say the victim was in his mid 20s but they don't know his name. Six houses down from the crime scene, police were questioning residents at an apartment complex and showing tenants the dead man's photo. "He said that there was a stabbing and that the gentleman was deceased and if I had known him. And I had said I had seen him around the complex," said neighbor Joyce Goodrich.

Goodrich and other residents of 119 Main Street described the man as a transient who had been staying with a friend in one of the apartments. They say the man made them nervous. And police believe he may have been dangerous.

"The deceased has been linked to other unreported crimes, criminal activity in recent days, to include aggravated assault and robbery," Chief LaRose said.

Police said Shawn Garrett is cooperating with them and that he hasn't been charged. They're trying to determine whether the family was targeted or whether it was a random break in.

As to the question of whether it is legal to kill someone who breaks into your home? WCAX spoke with legal defense expert David Sleigh.  He said Vermont law is unsettled on the matter and it will be up to the prosecutor to determine three things -- the nature of the threat Garrett faced, If Garrett had options other than deadly force, and if deadly force was a reasonable response to the situation.

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