D.A.: Shooting death justified
By Jessica Blomquist
On Tuesday, August 12, the Morgan County Grand Jury ruled not to indict Stan Schroeder, 33, of Buckhead, on charges of voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter (both felony and misdemeanor grade).
By voting "no bill," the jury indicated they believed the March 6, 2008 shooting death of 37-year-old Greensboro resident Eloy Escobido to be self-defense.
“I make no bones about it in this case,” said Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright. “I completely agree with their decision.”
“I feel it comes under the umbrella of self-defense,” Bright continued.
“Georgia law is crystal clear that everybody has a right to defend themselves, their families, and their homes.”
The 21 members of the grand jury were presented with the testimony and evidence of the entire investigation for around four hours.
“I wanted to make sure they were comfortable with their vote,” Bright said. The jury members then either voted “true bill” or “no bill” on each of the potential three charges. In Georgia law, at least 12 members of the jury need to vote for a “true bill” in order to indict someone on charges. The Morgan County "no bill"ed all three counts. Bright said the shooting death of Escobido occurred on March 6 at Schroeder’s Blue Springs Court residence. Schroeder’s home is also the headquarters of his home-based concrete business, Concrete Constructors, Incorporated.
Escobido was a subcontracted laborer who had worked with Schroeder for seven years and was paid by the job.
According to Bright, Schroeder alleged that on the day of the incident, Escobido called him at his home at 6:20 a.m. asking to be paid for a job he had recently completed on a concrete wall. Schroeder was not satisfied by the job and requested that Escobido go back and finish the wall before he would be paid. According to Schroeder, Escobido then threatened him saying, “You gonna pay me or I’m gonna do something I don’t wanna do.”
After hanging up the phone, Schroeder instructed his wife, Audrey, 31, to get the gun “in case something goes bad.” The Schroeder’s two children, ages 9, and 11, were getting ready for school. Schroeder then alleged that when he went outside to put his lunch in his truck before leaving for a job site, Escobido drove up. Once Escobido got out of his truck, he and Schroeder began to argue more about their business dealings. Schroeder then alleged that Escobido shouted “Pay me, yes or no” and pulled out a gray and black silver-handled folding pocket knife and began slashing at him with his right hand while holding onto his turtleneck shirt at his throat.
Police investigating the case found superficial laceration and abrasions on Schroeder, whose turtleneck sweater was torn at the neck. At some point during the altercation, Audrey, who was watching through a window, came out into the yard with the gun, a black and silver Taurus 45-calliber semi-automatic pistol.
Schroeder alleged that he kicked Escobido in the groin and retrieved the gun from his wife.
At that time, Escobido turned to run and Schroeder shot once, hitting Escobido in the back and killing him.
Schroeder alleged in court that he had aimed for Escobido’s legs. Schroeder then made the call to 911 shortly after the shooting, at 7:01 a.m.
Though Bright believes the incident is a clear case of self-defense, he admits that it is not a perfect case. “It wasn’t perfect self-defense,” Bright said.
“An argument could be made that Stan shot the aggressor running away from him in the back. It was for that reason that we presented it to the Morgan County Grand Jury.”
“The bottom line is we all felt the community should have some input in the case for whatever action they found appropriate,” said Bright.
Georgia’s self-defense law found in Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 16-3-21 states that “ a person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
According to this law, said Bright, “Mr. Schroeder had the right to use a deadly weapon to repel another deadly weapon, a knife.” Another Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 16-3-23.1, passed on July 1, 2006, says that a person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use force as provided in said Code sections, including deadly force.”
“Had Eloy come on the property and not used a knife, it would have been a completely different story,” Bright said.
Some questions arose as to whether Escobido was an illegal immigrant to which Bright replied, “I can tell you that question was asked of the GBI agent who investigated the case and he said ‘No.’”
“Whether he was an illegal immigrant or not, quite candidly, I couldn’t see how it would make a difference,” said Bright.
“I don’t want people to think an illegal immigrant’s life is any less precious than anyone else’s. All human life is precious.”
After the jury’s ruling, the criminal case is officially closed and no further action will be taken by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations or by Bright’s office.