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Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

Posted Jan 07 2012 8:00am

The 18-year-old Oklahoma widow who shot dead a man after he broke in to her house won’t face charges over his death, police said yesterday.

The man was looking for the prescription drugs belonging to Sarah McKinley’s dead husband, an affidavit released on Wednesday revealed. Ms McKinley’s 58-year-old husband Kenneth had died from lung cancer on Christmas Day,leaving behind their three-month-old son Justin, and an arsenal of cancer medications.

Sarah McKinley Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

Make my day: Sarah McKinley shot and killed an intruder on New Year's Eve to save her three-month-old son, as reenacted for Good Morning America

Justin Martin, 24, was addicted to prescription drugs, his friend told police, and was looking for his next fix. Painkillers had gone missing from their home in recent weeks, Ms McKinley said, and suspected someone was breaking in.

The young widow told NewsOK.com that it is not customary to lock one’s doors in the rural community of Blanchard, Oklahoma.

Martin knew Mr McKinley had recently died of cancer and suspected there were more narcotics in the house, 29-year-old Dustin Stewart told police.

Ms McKinley said Martin had knocked on her door the night of her husband’s funeral when it was ‘pitch black out.’ She didn’t recognise him but said he was acting strangely. Once he realised she had company, he left.

sarah2 Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

Justin Martin, pictured, was shot dead by Sarah McKinley as he tried to break in to her house.

Martin returned New Year’s Day with a 12-inch hunting knife. Ms McKinley told NewsOK.com that it took Martin 21 minutes to break into her house. During that time, she was on the phone with two 911 dispatchers.

Sarah McKinley1 Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

Mother on the edge: Sarah McKinley said it was either the intruder or her son, 'and it wasn't going to be my son'

‘When I saw him come in, I saw something flash in his hand. I told 911 I was going to shoot and I did. And he just fell over the couch. 

When someone breaks into your house with a deadly weapon, they aren’t here for anything good,’ she said, holding baby Justin on her lap.

An obituary for Martin said he was a 2005 graduate of Mustang Public Schools and worked as a rancher. Friends and family knew him as Curly.

Stewart also called the Grady County dispatcher shortly after Martin was shot.

sarah3 Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

Martin's accomplice Dustin Stewart (pictured) told police Martin knew Kenneth McKinley had died of cancer and probably had prescription drugs still in their home. Stewart is facing first-degree murder charges.

‘My name is Dusty Stewart and I think it was my friend that got shot,’ he said.

He continued: ‘I don’t know what he was trying to do. I stood at the fence and told him to come on and I don’t know what he did.’

But it is Stewart, and not Ms McKinley, who is facing first-degree murder charges, CNN reports.

‘When you’re engaged in a crime such as first-degree burglary and death results from the events of that crime, you’re subject to prosecution for it,’ Assistant District Attorney James Walters told the Oklahoman.

But he said about Ms McKinley: ‘Our initial review of the case doesn’t indicate she violated the law in any way.’

According to prosecutors, even though Stewart didn’t pull the trigger and didn’t have a gun on him, a person can be charged with murder if someone dies during the implementation of certain crimes.

Ms McKinley had kept the 12-gauge gun with which she shot Martin, as well as a pistol, after selling the rest of her husband’s guns to help pay for his funeral.

Mr McKinley had taught her how to shoot, she said. Though he was 40 years her senior, she says she’s not ashamed she married him. ‘I still love him with everything I am,’ she said. The couple began living together three years ago and obtained a marriage licence in November.

Two men tried breaking into Ms McKinley’s house, one armed with a 12-inch hunting knife.

While on the phone with 911, the young mother shot and killed one of the intruders with a 12-gauge shotgun after he passed the threshold.

After her husband’s funeral the previous week, a man named Justin Martin stopped by Ms McKinley’s house, claiming he was a neighbour and only wanted to introduce himself.

Ms McKinley, 18, was suspicious. She said he was calling late at night, when it was ‘pitch black outside.’

Martin returned on New Year’s Eve, this time in the middle of the day and armed with a hunting knife and an accomplice – 29-year-old Dustin Stewart.

The new mother told KOCO News that the men started knocking aggressively on her door, Martin in front and Stewart in the back.

She described to the Oklahoma station what she did: ‘I walked over and got the 12-gauge, went in the bedroom and got the pistol, put the bottle in his mouth, and then I called 911.’

She also barricaded the front door with a sofa.

Ms McKinley asked the 911 dispatcher what to do should the two men break in.

‘I’ve got two guns in my hand – is it okay to shoot him if he comes in the door?’ she said.

‘I’m in here by myself with my infant baby, can I please get a dispatcher out here immediately?’

Once the 911 dispatcher confirmed with the young mother that her doors were indeed locked, Ms McKinley asked again if she could shoot the intruders.

‘I can’t tell you that you can do that but you do what you have to do to protect your baby,’ the dispatcher told her.

Ms McKinley was on the phone with two dispatchers – which represented two neighbouring counties – for a total of 21 minutes.

Around 2pm, Martin kicked in the door and Ms McKinley shot him once in the torso. Since police said the shooting was in self-defence, she will not be charged.

Police found Martin, 24, slumped over a floral-print sofa with a single gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Castle Doctrine – colloquially called the Make My Day Law from the 1983 Clint Eastwood film Sudden Impact – are legislated by individual states. Not all states have the law, which allow people to defend themselves in their homes. Oklahoma law states that anyone unlawfully entering a person’s home can be defended against by using physical or deadly force. The law was recently expanded in Oklahoma to include businesses.

His accomplice, Stewart, told police he fled after he heard the gunshot and later was later driven to the police station by his parents, Newson6.com reports.

He’s being held in Grady County jail on felony murder charges and will be arraigned later today, NewsOK.com reports.

Detective Dan Huff told KOCO-TV that under some circumstances, shooting a person is permissible.

‘You’re allowed to shoot an unauthorised person that is in your home,’ he said. ‘The law provides you the remedy, and sanctions the use of deadly force.

The Oklahoma Castle Doctrine, otherwise known as the Make My Day law, states you can only shoot an intruder if they have entered your home.

Attorney Doug Frieson told Newson6.com that the law always protects someone in their home, no matter the circumstances.

‘The simple fact that you’re unauthorised in the home is enough that allows the homeowner to use deadly force.’

She said that though the shooting was justified, it was by no means an easy decision to make.

‘It was either going to be him or my son. And it wasn’t going to be my son,’ she said. She added: ‘There’s nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child.

Detectives will continue their investigation after they obtain a search warrant for Martin’s car.

Grady County Sheriff Art Kell told MailOnline that a shooting case like this is rare. ‘Around the state, maybe two to three people get shot,’ he said.

He said there are three deputies to cover the county’s 12,000 square miles, meaning a response could hardly be immediate.

Mr Kell added: ‘When (our dispatcher) got the call, we need to get more information, what’s the reason for the guy outside.’ 

Since Ms McKinley was calling from a cell phone, her exact location was hard to pinpoint. But, he added, ‘the deputy was en route within seven minutes.’

He said that Ms McKinley’s husband was in his 50s and the couple were married two years ago. Mr Kell said one of his dispatchers, Diane Graham, handled the call 911 call.

sarah1 Sarah McKinley, teen mom and widower, shot dead a home intruder

A moment of calm: Grady County dispatcher Diane Graham kept McKinley calm throughout the ordeal.

‘I knew she was scared because she was whispering,’ Ms Graham, a 911 dispatcher from the Grady County Sheriff’s Office told KFOR-TV.

‘Anything can be serious in a moment’s notice, so you need to believe what they say when they call and get the help to them as quick as you can,’ Ms Graham explained.

She stayed on the phone with the scared mother before transferring her to the Blanchard Police.

Ms McKinley was gracious to the dispatchers for helping her in the difficult situation. ‘The 911 dispatcher was awesome,’ she told KFOR-TV. ‘I was feeding off her and she was calm, so I could be calm.’

Det. Huff told KFOR-TV that he and his fellow detectives believe the home invasion to have been ‘premeditated.’ The attack, as new reports reveal, may have been premeditated. Ms McKinley’s mother told Newson6.com that Martin stalked her daughter at a rodeo two years ago.

The two have since bumped into each other at a nearby convenience store. Ms McKinley said she didn’t know who he was until after the shooting, when she pieced everything together. In addition, two of her dogs were recently found dead.

Since news has spread, members of the Blanchard community are eager to help the young widow, donating clothes and gifts, as well as starting long-term funds for her son.

Ms McKinley is touched by the kindness. She told KFOR-TV: ‘You don’t realise how many good people there are until tragedy happens and then they step forward. 

Kinda lose faith in the human race, but when people help, it puts that back in.’

DISPATCHER: What’s going on?

SARAH MCKINLEY: There’s a guy at my door. I’ve got some dogs that keep coming up missing. This guy’s up to no good. My husband just passed away. I’m here by myself with my infant baby. Can I please get a dispatch out here immediately?

DISPATCHER: Hang with me a second. Are your doors locked?

SARAH MCKINLEY: Yes, I’ve got two guns in my hands. Is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?

DISPATCHER: Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself. I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby. Is he trying to get in the door?

SARAH MCKINLEY: He just keeps knocking.

DISPATCHER: Okay. Alright. Do you have like an alarm on your car that you can set off with your remote control that might scare him and get him away?

SARAH MCKINLEY: No, I don’t.

DISPATCHER: Alright, that’s okay.(rustling)

The dispatcher then transfers Ms McKinley to a neighbouring county. That call was not recorded.

Via Mail Online: Teen widow who shot dead home invader who ‘wanted her late 58-year-old husband’s meds’ WON’T face charges

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