Friday, February 11, 2005

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A shooting in Houston

For those of you from Texas this isn't that surprising, and it in Houston it is part of the daily news cycle I am lead to understand, but this shooting is symptomatic of a real problem in the United States. What happens when a child, most often a son, decides to stop the domestic battery in his home? Usually when it gets to this point the child is normally older, a teen-ager, and he uses deadly force. If he is lucky he won't kill the batterer, and he won't be charged for the offense he has just committed. Hopefully, the child's mother will also wake up to the damage living in such a situation is doing to her child, if not herself.

What happened early this morning:

POSTED: 6:50 am CST February 11, 2005

HOUSTON -- A 16-year-old boy was charged with shooting his father in their southwest Harris County home Friday, Local 2 reported. The shooting was originally reported as a case of domestic abuse, but deputies said the boy apparently witnessed a sexual act between his parents and thought the father was abusing the mother.

Sheriff's deputies charged the boy with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony.

Detectives told Local 2 the mother and father were engaged in consensual sex when the shooting occurred at about 3:30 a.m. inside the family's home on Mira Monte near Corta.

Investigators said the couple's 11-year-old son woke up to his mother making loud noises.

"During the course of love making, the wife was evidently being somewhat loud … loud enough to where it woke the children up," Harris County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mike Smith told Local 2.

The boy woke his brother, who then walked into his parent's bedroom and told his father, 43-year-old Jacob Hughes, to leave his mother alone.

Officials said that is when the teen shot his father in the arm.

Detectives originally told Local 2 that the son said he fired the gun as a way of defending his mother during an argument he thought she was having with his father.

"The children interpreted the noise as their mother being in danger," Smith said. "The 11-year-old went into the room, forcibly went into the room, to protect his mother. (The child) observed his parents making love and got the 16-year-old. The 16-year-old came back in and fired the shot."

After investigating previous problems at the home, officials said there have been previous reports of abuse in the family and that father had been charged and convicted of domestic violence.
Officials said the children feared their mother was being hurt due to their father's previous convictions for abuse and that is the reason the oldest son shot his father.

Authorities said they have not determined whether the mother was screaming for help.

"That is a very important question. I can see why you are asking that. We are trying to work that out right now. We are trying to decide if it was a passionate scream or was it a cry for help," Smith said.

Hughes was transported to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. He was released late Friday morning.

Officials said the couple has been married for 20 years.

This is Texas so we charge first and ask questions later. But it is important to note that there is a history of domestic violence in this family. Also, the younger son went into the room prior to getting his older brother to help their mother. Finally a sixteen year old boy can tell the difference between a consensual sexual act, albeit a loud one, and one that is not with cries for help. The child should not have been charged prior to an investigation. Police should interview all involved and then decided if the child should be charged as a juvenile for shooting his father, perhaps even understandably if mistakenly, or if the father should be charged for an assaultive offense himself. I don't envy the mother in this situation; she will be torn between her natural tendencies to protect her children, and as she is a battered woman, the fear of her husband's violence.