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Archive for Friday, May 29, 1998

USE OF FORCE IN DEFENSE DEBATABLE

May 29, 1998

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Kansas laws give property owners the right to protect themselves and their homes, but how much force can be used is open to interpretation.

``Kansas recognizes the right of self-defense and the right to defend property,'' said Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich, ``and that requires a reasonable use of force to defend it.''

How much force is needed, however, can only be decided on a case-by-case basis, Tonkovich said. She declined to comment on the death of a Lawrence man Wednesday who was shot after breaking into a north central Lawrence home with two other men.

The death differs from a typical break-in because police said Jimmy Lee Johnson, Maurice Murphy and Dustin Welch knew the people who they were allegedly robbing. One of the occupants of the house shot Johnson, police said.

Tonkovich said prosecutors must decide how much force is reasonable, based on the facts of each case. ``The key is whether the force is reasonable to defend against a perceived threat in the home,'' she said.

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