South Carolinians have long upheld a man’s right to use deadly force to protect his home and property from intruders. But should a man’s “castle” extend to his truck, as well?

Preston Oates thinks so. The embattled tow company owner is betting on the state’s so-called castle doctrine law to spring him from manslaughter and weapons charges he’s facing after shooting a man dead on Christmas Eve last year.

Oates’ attorneys have filed a motion arguing that he was acting in self- defense and protecting his property when he fatally shot 34-year-old Carlos Olivera during a dispute over a parking boot Oates had placed on Olivera’s minivan. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for the week of Nov. 14.

Oates’ lawyers, Donald Colongeli and Jared Newman, argue that he should be granted immunity from prosecution because state law gives residents the right to protect themselves from harm in their homes, businesses and vehicles. They contend that Oates defended himself against an attack by a pistol-wielding Olivera and Olivera’s brother in the Edgefield neighborhood. Oates was in his tow truck at the time, according to the motion.


Read more about the 2006 South Carolina law that greatly expanded the places where such a defense could be invoked here.

On occasions during the hearing, the judge talked about the applicable “Castle Doctrine” statute, the limited case law since it was adopted, and his interpretations of when it allows “lethal force” by a person protecting their home, business or “occupied vehicle.”

He said the act also does not require any proof that a killing was done in self-defense, which would be an issue left for trial.

Instead, he said the Protection of Persons and Property Act presumes, “in the confines of the statute, that you have a right to take somebody’s life,” and it doesn’t matter if they are armed. By law, he said, “you’re presumed to be in fear of your life — that’s how I read it — and you’re entitled to act accordingly.”– Ken Hawkins for The DigitelBeufort

Read updated news about this trial here.

Source: Glenn Smith for Post and Courier.

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