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A Gunman In Your House: What Rights Do You Have?

By: Dave Marcheskie
By: Dave Marcheskie

Spencer Cockrell says he expected to die the night of June 1, 2009. Cockrell and his wife, Sheila, own a cash checking business in Rocky Mount. That's why authorities think three men targeted the Cockrell's home that night, demanding money.

The kidnappers stripped Cockrell of his clothes and bound his hands and feet with apron strings. He says being tied up is the most helpless feeling in the world. But Spencer's helplessness turned to empowerment. Cockrell wiggled free and negotiated with the robbers giving them the keys to the store and the codes to the company safe. The robbers discussed the couple's fate and decided to kill them.

In efforts to save their lives, the Cockrells talked the robber into cutting the phone lines from outside, so Spencer and Sheila couldn't call the cops. That's when Spencer says he had a chance to run back inside and grab his gun.

Cockrell says the robber became angry and shot at him, Cockrell says he fired back, in self-defense, ultimately hitting Jesus Pryor, according to Nash County deputies.

Two days later, authorities arrested Justin Shaw and Aarion Dickens.

Both Sheila and Spencer strongly believe, without the use of a gun, they would be dead. But, in the state of North Carolina, do you have that right as a homeowner?

Pitt County District Attorney, Clark Everett says yes.

"You have the same right anywhere. If you feel that deadly force is necessary to protect yourself, or a family member, or a third party from death or serious physical injury, then you have the right to use deadly force, or force with a weapon."

Now Cockrell says since the robbery, he will always keep a gun nearby.


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