This has always been a huge debate -- the right to kill an intruder in your home. But this Minnesota man may have wronged a right by hiding his body after killing him in his garage.

There's no gun involved here, but rather a metal pipe. Regardless, it's the same debate on the difference between what's legal and not legal when it comes to protecting your home, and yourself/family, from unwanted intruders. There's a fine line when it comes to the law.

Star Tribune reported that last Tuesday a man from St. Paul, John M. Erickson, admitted to killing a man who was attempting to steal tools from his garage. He admitted to beating the victim with a lead pipe, crushing his skull until he died. He then decided not to alert authorities, and covered the body with layers of plastic and hid it under a bunch of debris in his garage. He knew the intruder and had worked on vehicles in his garage in the recent past.

A neighbor noticed a strong odor and flies near the area of the garage and alerted friends of the victim, who stormed the garage and found the decomposed body.

Obviously Erickson broke the law here. It wasn't because of killing the man, which some would argue but we'll get to that, but from not alerting authorities and hiding the body.

Minnesota law states the following, according to

No crime is committed when a person takes the life of another person, even intentionally, if the defendant’s action was taken in preventing the commission of a felony in the defendant’s (dwelling) (place of abode).

They continue to say that these 3 conditions must be met before killing a home intruder is ruled in your favor:

  1. You have to be preventing a felony in the house (burglary, robbery, rape, and assault with a weapon are some examples);
  2. Your judgment about how serious the situation is must be reasonable under the circumstances; and
  3. Your decision to defend your home must also be reasonable given the perceived danger.

We don't know if Erickson would have been in danger if he hadn't beaten him with a pipe, but common sense would tell you to stop beating the person once it's obvious they aren't going to fight back, and call authorities. In my opinion, he broke the law by continuing to attack the intruder until he died. He likely knew he'd be charged for homicide by calling the police, so he ditched the body in the worst place possible.

As adults, it's important to know where we have to draw the line in defending ourselves and family from a home invasion, and those conditions above state it pretty clearly. Of course you always want to alert authorities as soon as safely possible, and always try to prevent a death. Luckily I've never been in this situation and can't say what I'd do, or how I'd react to an intruder. It's likely adrenaline would cloud my judgement!

Be sure and let us know if you've ever been in a home invasion situation, and how it turned out. With the St. Cloud area having more instances of similar crimes lately, it's likely our listeners have some stories.

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