A no-win scenario

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It's a situation any one of us would dread -- in the middle of the night, in your home where you assume you're safe, you hear the sounds of an intruder.

Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet faced that situation early Friday and made a decision an innocent homeowner shouldn't have to make -- to use deadly force to protect his life and property.

Overstreet, armed and ready, shot and killed John Egland Howard Jr. A man is dead, and a good man must deal with having killed him. However justified -- and few killings are more justifiable than this one -- it has to be traumatic and distressing.

Let's take a moment to trudge up the stairs in his shoes. Judge Overstreet is a human being first. Our hearts and prayers go out to him and his family. He did what he had to do.

Certainly we should thank God it was the intruder, not the judge, who met with his end. And say a prayer of thanks that we live in a state that recognizes the sacred right, and even the obligation, of men to protect themselves and their loved ones with whatever force necessary. The law was changed only five years ago to broaden homeowners' immunity by giving them the legal right to use deadly force with an intruder regardless of the perceived danger. Thank goodness for that, too.

Sadly, though, we still don't live in a state whose laws take the crime of burglary very seriously at all. Indeed, Howard is a repeat offender whose crimes stretch across the breadth of the Augusta Judicial Circuit: Richmond, Burke and Columbia counties. He was placed on 10 years' probation for burglary just last year by Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr., for all the good that did.

Judge Brown, while he's not singularly responsible for Georgia's inept handling of career burglars, is truly fortunate his friend and colleague Judge Overstreet is alive today.

If the Overstreet case is a seminal episode in Augusta criminal history -- and it became one instantly -- so should it be in Georgia's. It should be the shot heard 'round the state Capitol: Lawmakers are now duty-bound to find new, creative and effective ways to stem the tide of burglaries in this state and more adequately punish their commission.

What they're doing now isn't working -- and it's compelling homeowners in the judge's Summerville neighborhood to send e-mails and set up websites and text alerts to warn each other of the dangers in their midst.

And it's forcing gentle citizens to take up arms. And use them.

No one wins in that scenario.

Comments (56) Add comment
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chascush
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chascush 08/21/10 - 08:46 am
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Asitisinaug, ‘Repeat

Asitisinaug, ‘Repeat offenders are not punished accordingly.’
We need more law enforcement folks like AZ’s sheriff Joe Arpaio.
His prisoners don’t have TVs exercising equipment and basketball court. They ACTUALLY HAVE TO WORK. They grow there own food and even cook it. When a crook gets out of Joe’s prison they don’t want to go back.
But good AG Holder is trying to shut Joe down. Typical of who we having running this country.

RoadKing09
16
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RoadKing09 08/21/10 - 08:46 am
0
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I believe in gun

I believe in gun control......Being Able to Hit your Target.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 08/21/10 - 08:50 am
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Sheriff Joe has some, that's

Sheriff Joe has some, that's right, I said SOME good programs. His tent city is voluntary and gives prisoners time off their sentences for volunteering. His recidivisim rate though is a lot higher than you may think. They may not like his jail but they keep going back.

dani
13
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dani 08/21/10 - 09:24 am
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The home is meant to be

The home is meant to be sacrosanct, a haven. The invasion of Judge Overstreet's home is an act that is no longer rare but becoming commonplace. When will "they" ever learn?

InChristLove
22485
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InChristLove 08/21/10 - 09:31 am
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chascush, that was a little

chascush, that was a little harsh. Some individuals have no clue about the rules of shooting a firearm and it's a common question. I don't think Kegbrat is more concerned about the criminal than the Judge, logic to them is shoot him in the leg, he falls down, and that's that.

Kegbrat, you shoot center mass because it's the biggest target area to take down a threat. Do you realize how tough it would be in a stressful situation to try and shoot someone in the leg, while he's moving in probably a dim lite house.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 08/21/10 - 09:42 am
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dani, every time "they" are

dani, every time "they" are taught like Overstreet taught, they not only learn, but they stay learned.

An armed society is a polite society.

A subsidy society has no respect.

There will continue to be conflict.

sledgehammer
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sledgehammer 08/21/10 - 10:23 am
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Need to impose Saudi

Need to impose Saudi punishment for thievery--once, cut off right hand (left is unclean) twice, cut off left hand, thrice, cut off head! End of problem!

Patty-P
3520
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Patty-P 08/21/10 - 10:23 am
0
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This city will only get

This city will only get worse. Too many public officials that don't care about crime here unless it affects 'their' neighborhoods.

sledgehammer
0
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sledgehammer 08/21/10 - 10:25 am
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overburdened can you provide

overburdened can you provide stats to back your post?

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 08/21/10 - 10:57 am
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Has anyone read what type of

Has anyone read what type of weapon the judge used and whether Howard was shot in the front, or back, of his chest?

TheFederalist
1
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TheFederalist 08/21/10 - 11:14 am
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All it will take is for a few

All it will take is for a few more of these exact same incidents to take place, where a well armed citizen shoots and kills an intruder that was stupid enough to think that he could simply break into someone's house, without the taking the chance that he might have to pay the ultimate price for his error. Just a few more of these, and the word will get out, and these break-ins and home invasions will diminish, if not disappear altogether. Tragic as this was, perhaps the message will get out to those thinking about doing the same thing? The courts are much more lenient by far, than a well armed but frightened homeowner, who will absolutely shoot first and ask questions later.

chascush
0
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chascush 08/21/10 - 11:25 am
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harley_52, ‘Has anyone read

harley_52, ‘Has anyone read what type of weapon the judge used and whether Howard was shot in the front, or back, of his chest?’
WHO CARES? The thug was in the judge’s house in the middle of night. Blow his ares away.

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 08/21/10 - 11:34 am
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Chascush...."WHO CARES? The

Chascush...."WHO CARES? The thug was in the judge’s house in the middle of night. Blow his ares away."

I'll take that to mean you haven't heard, don't know, but chose to display your ignorance nonetheless.

I'm neither supporting the dead felon, nor condemning the judge. I asked a question and you obviously don't know the answers.

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 08/21/10 - 12:00 pm
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I have another question.

I have another question. Does anyone else find it remarkable that Sheriff Strength has concluded that Howard's choice of the Judge's home to rob was a "random" choice when Howard's mother just happens to be the Judge's secretary?

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 08/21/10 - 12:19 pm
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The Judge used a 380 and shot

The Judge used a 380 and shot him once in the chest. Howard's mother IS NOT the Judge's Secretary. The Judge's secretary is the mother of his Richmond County victim that he got 10 years probation for burglarizing her home. THe Judge's secretary is the one that found her daughter's home burglarized and reported it. Howard is the burglar in her daughter's case.

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 08/21/10 - 12:23 pm
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Overburdened_Taxpayer.....tha

Overburdened_Taxpayer.....thanks for the information and the clarification. It's enough of a coincidence that the judge's secretary just happens to be the mother one of Howard's victims and the secretary of another. I mean with hundreds of thousands of potential victims for Howard in the CSRA it's certainly possible it is just a "random" coincidence after all.

Driver8
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Driver8 08/21/10 - 12:46 pm
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An opinion piece on a

An opinion piece on a completely justified shooting? Gee, could you pick something a little less controversial? Let me guess-- you supported the completely justified shooting? Thanks for your opinion, editor!

Driver8
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Driver8 08/21/10 - 12:54 pm
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Hey Federalist, the law has

Hey Federalist, the law has not changed recently. These things happen from time to time, and everyone knows you can shoot an intruder. You think these things will diminish? Examine the situation of the Hill. It is an affluent area surrounded by a much larger area of poverty and crime. Break-ins are not going to diminish or disappear. You forgot to factor in the essential fact that criminals are generally very stupid individuals. Darwin would predict, I guess, that stupdid criminals will continue committing stupid acts which result in their early demise and/or inability to reproduce (even if they do get "married" in prison).

Driver8
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Driver8 08/21/10 - 12:55 pm
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Sorry, I mispelled stupid.

Sorry, I mispelled stupid. LOL.

corgimom
38773
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corgimom 08/21/10 - 12:55 pm
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LAKegbrat, are you for real?

LAKegbrat, are you for real? But NOW I get it. When someone breaks into your home, and you know there is more than one burglar in your house, you are supposed to say, "Hey, how ya doing? By the way, do you have a gun, and if you do, will you use it on me? I need to know, in order to decide where to shoot you."

chascush
0
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chascush 08/21/10 - 02:15 pm
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harley_52, 'Does anyone else

harley_52, 'Does anyone else find it remarkable that Sheriff Strength has concluded that Howard's choice of the Judge's home to rob was a "random" choice when Howard's mother just happens to be the Judge's secretary?'
Speaking of ignorance harley, maybe you should check things out before showing yours.

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 08/21/10 - 02:45 pm
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It was perfectly natural for

It was perfectly natural for Harley 52 to think that John Howard's mother was Judge Overstreet's secretary, OverburdenedTaxpayer and ChasCush. From Friday's article titled Judge shoots intruder who broke in through window, we read,

Most of the items stolen from the Maddox Road break-in—which was discovered by the victim's mother, who is Judge Overstreet's secretary—were recovered at pawnshops or at a home where Howard was staying.

There are so many things going on at once that Chronicle reporters Adam Folk, Bianca Cain, and Sandy Hodson did not take the time to clarify. Clearly, Judge Overstreet was the victim of a home invasion and theft. The person who had items stolen from his/her Maddox Road residence was the victim of a crime. Now John Howard was on the receiving end of a shooting and, even though he was a criminal, it would not be too much of a stretch to call him a victim, also, since he ended up dead. He was the victim of a justifiable shooting. Of course, some would say that there is no way that Howard should ever be classified as a victim, and I understand that. Still, the writing could lead to the conclusion that Howard was the "victim" that Folk, Cain and Hodson were talking about in their article.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
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overburdened_taxpayer 08/21/10 - 03:13 pm
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I understand your confusion

I understand your confusion but the article was talking about the Maddox Rd. victim's Mother, not Howard's mother.

Little Lamb
49260
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Little Lamb 08/21/10 - 07:57 pm
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Thanks for the clarification,

Thanks for the clarification, Taxpayer. But it is intriguiging that Howard burgles a residence, goes through the haul and discovers information that leads him to try and burgle the residence of the mother of the victim of a previous burglary. Too strange to be coincidence.

disssman
6
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disssman 08/21/10 - 08:06 pm
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According to A Rhodes he is

According to A Rhodes he is the best shot of all the politicians in the area. Given that info, he possibly could have shot to wound. And as sick as it sounds, I will not be surprised to see a civil case brought in a little less than 2 years about using excessive force. He may be innocent in criminal court, but he may still face a jury of people like Alyshia in a civil trial. If I am correct, heaven help him because the religious nuts in town would convict him.

disssman
6
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disssman 08/21/10 - 08:11 pm
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I think Judge Brown is being

I think Judge Brown is being given a bum rap. Question is who was the meeting between when a plea deal was reached? I am sure Judge Brown wasn't. What sentence did the DA agree to in exchange for a guilty plea? And lastly when there is a plea deal reached dosen't the DA inform the judge of the specifics? So come on, did Brown actually have any involvement in the reduced sentence?

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