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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by carl Location: greenville on Aug 4, 2009 at 05:00 AM
    i pity the fool that breaks into my house. if he did'nt have a weapon when he came in, he would by the time the cops arrived.
  • by southern man Location: greenville on Aug 2, 2009 at 07:49 PM
    to all of you gun carrying cry babies and yes i'm one too if you actual knew what the second amendment was and acted on it we wouldn't have a lot of these problems we have today. The second amendment was given to us as protection against TYRANNY by the federal government and the congress of the united states. a democracy takes you rights away. this country was found on a constitutional republic ( which is government under rule of law ) FACT LOOK IT UP.so untile you nip it in the bud keep your doors locked guns loaded and your mouth shut.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 2, 2009 at 02:59 PM
    Gunman rights...you have the right to remain silent after I shoot you down!
  • by Kathy Location: Washington on Aug 2, 2009 at 02:57 PM
    Mama didn't raise a fool and daddy didn't raise his girls not to shoot. As a former FBI certified marksman, I really pity the fool who tries to break in my house. I don't care if they are walking away from me or not, if somebody is in my house uninvited, they are fair game. I probably wouldn't shoot to kill but I would darn sure wing 'em. Since I have a shotgun by the bed, it would be a bad thing to try to break in my house. Buckshot can do a lot of damage. I have a gun in every room in my house. My 17-year-old is a markman also. He can defend himself if I can't.
  • by Lonnie Location: Greenville on Aug 2, 2009 at 09:12 AM
    They may break in but they will be carried OUT.I don,t care if he has a rubber duck,if you enter my home you will die. PERIOD.
  • by Alex on Aug 1, 2009 at 09:03 AM
    Thank you Clark, right on. Crime in Greenville would go down if people would start spattering the brains of these thugs in their homes sidewalks and cars whenever they tried to rob them. I gun in hand is better than a cop on the phone. This is not a shot a GPD I thank you for the hard work you do. But GPD cannot be everywhere at once.
  • by DC Location: Kinston on Jul 31, 2009 at 06:13 PM
    Criminals look for easy targets. Places where firearms are not allowed are favorite places for criminals because all the good guys are unarmed, shop-n-rob, schools, gun free zone, hospitals,public parks and streets have always been targets of criminals. I seriously try to avoid any business with a no CCW sign on the door. Criminals do not live by our rules that is why they are criminals. I refuse to allow myself to be un protected and stripped of my constitutional rights. I am sure criminals do not read this blog or watch the news so bravo talk on here is a waste of time.
  • by Nathan Location: Eastern NC on Jul 31, 2009 at 01:22 AM
    Interesting, this topic came up on another forum. Search Wikipedia for "Castle law"; called different things like "Castle Law", "Line in the Sand law", "Retreat Law", and "No-Retreat Law", they all concern a private citizen's rights in case their land is trespassed upon and their lives or well being is threatened. According to Wikipedia, NC has such a law. In other (northern and western, mostly) states, if your home/land is trespassed upon, you must retreat. I like NC's take on it. I'm often branded a liberal, but I believe in the Second Amendment as well as the First. And race has nothing to do with it. If you think your race will get you shot, well, don't break into somebody's home regardless of your race or their race. You don't belong there; race has nothing to do with it.
  • by Alyssa Location: Pitt County on Jul 30, 2009 at 06:24 PM
    Flora, you said everyone is assuming you are of African-American descent. Are you?
  • by Deb Location: Matthews on Jul 30, 2009 at 06:21 PM
    Why won't Rep. Deborah Ross schedule a fair hearing for the Castle Doctrine S928 in the NC House? Her constituents have been begging her to schedule it to protect citizens who protect themselves in their own homes from financial ruin when being sued by the intruder or the intruder's family. She has replied that the Castle Doctrine is 'too controversial' to schedule and that it would take up too much time. She has recently scheduled such important bills as SB955 'Bike Headlights at Night' and the HB327 'Right to Publicity'. LISTEN to your contituents, Ms. Ross. Do your job, whether you have to work harder becuase it's 'controversial' as you say, or not. Almost every other State has the Castle Doctrine already; why so controversial here? 7 of 8 pro-gun bills have been dropped due to no fair hearing scheduled by you and Mr. Ronnie Sutton. Email Ms Ross and tell her to schedule this bill for a fair hearing: Deborah.Ross@ncleg.net or call her at 919-733-5773 and be heard!

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