Can you use deadly force when someone is committing a crime? Only sometimes, DA says

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - A second-degree murder charge has been filed on the Ardmore woman accused of murdering a man who was allegedly trying to steal a truck.

27-year-old Meghan Matthews could be facing anywhere from ten years to life in prison after police say she shot at a man who was driving away, stealing her boyfriend’s truck.

“She’s charged with felony murder, second degree felony murder,” District Attorney Craig Ladd said. “Which means that she didn’t intend to kill him, but she intended to commit a felony offense and he died as a result of that felony offense.”

District attorney Craig Ladd said that’s because you can’t use deadly force, such as firing a gun, to defend just any felony.

Oklahoma law states the right to stand your ground only applies against what’s called a “forcible felony”.

“Basically, before you can use deadly force you have to be in some sort of danger, or in fear of some sort of violence being committed against you,” Ladd said. “So if someone steals your car or your car that has your purse in it in this case, the law doesn’t allow you to chase them down and shoot them. The law permits the use of deadly force in situations where you’re in fear of violence being committed against you.”

Ladd said the charge might have been different if Matthews had been inside her own home when the theft occurred.

“It’s different if you’re in a house and an intruder comes in your house without your permission, that’s a completely different circumstance,” Ladd said.

But Ladd said this wasn’t a home invasion or a robbery... It’s larceny.

“There’s a difference between larceny and robbery,” Ladd said. “Robbery is whenever someone comes up to you and threatens you with violence to take your property. That’s a completely different scenario. You have a right to defend yourself and in some cases use deadly force if someone is trying to rob you or hurt you to get your property from you. But that’s not what we had here. What we had here was a larceny.”

Ladd said since Matthews wasn’t in the immediate vicinity when Gary Williams stole the truck, there wasn’t a reasonable fear for her life.

Ladd said he can’t comment on what punishment the state is seeking, but he’s confident the investigation shows that a second degree murder charge fits.

“We do think that that’s a solid charge based on the evidence,” Ladd said.

As of Monday morning, Matthews was still in the Carter County jail.