No. 8: No charges filed in Medina shooting
Editor's note: This is the third in a series of stories featuring The Telegram's top 10 news stories of 2012.
BY ANGIE HAFLICH
For nearly four months, the community waited anxiously to see how the Finney County Attorney's Office would handle the case of a Garden City teen who shot and killed a former Garden City High School wrestler after he had broken into the teen's home.
And on Jan. 5, Finney County Attorney John Wheeler announced his decision: There would be no charges filed against the 17-year-old boy who shot and killed 18-year-old Braxston Medina on Sept. 6, 2011.
The decision comes in at No. 8 on The Telegram's Top 10 news stories of 2012.
"After careful review of the offense report, investigative narrative reports, forensic reports and other related evidence, this case is declined for prosecution," a press release from Wheeler read. "Weighing heavy in the consideration, and coupled with all the evidence presented, are the statutory provisions of defense of self, defense of dwelling, use of force presumptions and the immunities from prosecution or liability providing legal defenses when utilizing authorized force, all as clearly declared by the Legislature of the State of Kansas. (The forgoing statutory self-defense references are commonly described as 'Stand and Defend' or 'The Castle Doctrine')."
According to the Finney County Sheriff's Office, Medina broke into a locked entrance of a residence at about 9:30 a.m. Sept. 6 to retrieve some property from the occupant of the residence. The shooter, upon seeing Medina, fired a single round from a shotgun into Medina's chest. Medina was taken to St. Catherine Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The sheriff's office said that Medina and the shooter, who also was a GCHS student, had been acquaintances and that they had an altercation prior to the shooting. Authorities did not release the name of the shooter because no arrest was made.
The charge sent to the county attorney was one of second-degree murder. The decision ultimately was made by Wheeler, who said the shooting occurred under the scope of the "Stand and Defend" law. The law in question, Kansas Statute 21-3211, states that "a person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such use of force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force." The next section reads that deadly force is justified if a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend themselves or another from a person's imminent use of unlawful force. The protection includes the individual, the defense of another, or an occupied residence or vehicle but excludes use of force against identified law enforcement officers executing their duties.
In a separate interview after releasing his decision, Wheeler said there was evidence of entry into the home and that from the occupant's angle the law was quite clear.
"The right of a person to be safe in their homes under Kansas law is inviolate," Wheeler said. "The law is clear under Kansas law."
Speaking about the gravity of the decision, Wheeler said that this was a tragic event, but in line with Kansas law.
"I'm hoping that no matter what, it is understood that this is an extremely sad matter," Wheeler said. "But the law of the State of Kansas is quite clear."
Medina was a three-time state qualifier for the GCHS wrestling team and finished fourth at the Class 6A state tournament at 135 pounds for the 2010-11 season. He was a member of The Telegram's All-Area Wrestling team in 2011.