Oklahoma native, Sarah McKinley, seems to have had a very rough Christmas 2011. Her husband, who was 40-years her senior, died of lung Cancer leaving her alone with a three month old son and not enough money to pay for his funeral. She sold all but two of his guns to cover the costs and then used one of them to kill an intruder as soon as he opened the door to her mobile home.
It is believed the man, Justin Martin, was breaking in to steal the rest of McKinley’s husband’s prescription drugs. His partner in the crime, Dustin Stewart, who apparently stood watch outside the trailer by the fence is now up on first degree murder charges although he never shot anyone or entered the house.
Now, it’s very commendable that a young, 18-year old woman would be able to have that much strength to go through two tragic events in a week and be so calm and collected. As she points out in an interview with ABC News, “There’s nothing more dangerous than a Momma Bear protecting her cub.” However, it’s kind of shocking how the whole thing went down and how it is so easily excepted that she shot a man as he entered the door, before knowing fully if he was armed or letting him know she had a gun pointed at him.
When McKinley heard Martin trying to break in she got her gun, put a bottle in her baby’s mouth, dialed 911 and pointed the gun at the door. The dispatcher answered and she told her someone was breaking in then asked if it was OK to shoot them. That’s when the dispatcher told her she couldn’t tell her she could but that she should do whatever it takes “to protect your baby.” The instant Martin got in the door McKinley shot and killed him and that’s when Stewart outside called 911 himself.
Yes, Martin had a 12 inch hunting knife (at least one of the men did and since he was the one that’s shot it’s assumed it was him but most reports don’t verify this) and yes he was breaking into her house, but why was she never instructed to warn him she was armed and would shoot? Isn’t that what police have to do?
And while he was breaking in, presumably with a weapon, he never once made a clear threat on her life, or her baby’s for that matter. So he was shot for breaking in on the presumption he would have used the weapon when it could just as easily be argued he might have run away as soon as he saw the gun. Maybe if McKinley had told him she was armed he would have left then.
Instead, Martin was left alone to continue to break in and meet his death. McKinley wasn’t charged or really investigated as police said the shooting was warranted and justified over an interview with her. Now Stewart who didn’t even enter the house or apparently have a weapon is charged with first degree murder even though it seems his crime was accomplice to break and enter. It seems he’s been charged with the murder of his friend Martin.
According to Assistant District Attorney James Walters, “When you’re engaged in a crime such as first-degree burglary and death results from the events of that crime, you’re subject to prosecution for it.”