Court Overturns Conviction in Killing of Home Intruder

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients' cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case.

In July 2015, an intruder violently broke into a local Fairfax County resident’s home by literally forcing in the dead-bolted door.  The door frame was destroyed from the violence of the break-in.   Upon hearing the noise, the homeowner approached the front door carrying a rifle he had not shot in years and only had for self defense.  He went to the front door area because he knew the door was deadlocked before he went to bed and that was the only way out of the house. 

The homeowner confronted the intruder, who was coming down the stairs toward him. The homeowner’s rifle discharged, and it struck the intruder in the bottom of his left leg. Since the intruder was coming down the steps toward the homeowner, the bullet traveled through his lower left leg and through his right thigh. 

The intruder tragically died and the homeowner was charged with murder, despite the fact the deceased had broken in and was moving toward the 50-year-old homeowner. After a multi-day jury trial, the homeowner was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four years of incarceration.  
 
Greenspun Shapiro appealed the conviction, arguing that the trial court erred by denying a request for a self-defense jury instruction. A three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals agreed with Greenspun Shapiro. On September 11, 2018, a published opinion was entered, reversing and remanding the case for trial due to the trial court’s error in refusing to give the jury an instruction on self-defense. 

The Commonwealth requested a hearing en banc, which essentially requests all 11 judges on the Court of Appeals to reconsider the case.  On February 12, 2019, the Court of Appeals affirmed the original decision, reversed the conviction, and remanded the case to the trial court. 

See Lienau v. Commonwealth, 69 Va. App. 254 (2018)
See Lienau v. Commonwealth, 69 Va. App. 341 (2018)
See Lienau v. Commonwealth, 2019 Va. App. LEXIS 37

News:
https://wtop.com/virginia/2019/02/court-overturns-conviction-in-killing-of-home-intruder/ 
https://www.wric.com/news/local-news/court-overturns-conviction-in-killing-of-home-intruder/1791365891