The following are excerpts of the Asbury Park Press update on the recent death of a burglar shot dead by a elderly homeowner (reported HERE on YWN).
The man who invaded an East County Line Road home and was shot by the homeowner died as a result of the gunshot wound to his head, according to the autopsy performed Thursday, officials said.
Eric R. Tucker, 31, of Cherry Street, Lakewood, was pronounced dead Wednesday at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center. He was shot once in the head about 5 a.m. Friday by a homeowner who awoke to find Tucker at the bottom of the stairwell in his home, police said. The homeowner shot Tucker with his legally registered semiautomatic handgun. Tucker was standing at the door and there were two other men outside who police say were planning on entering and burglarizing the home.
Corey Morgan, 38, of Governors Road, and Charles Cobb, 30, of Astor Drive, both in Lakewood, were charged with burglary of the home where Tucker was shot. The investigation is continuing. Tucker was not charged in connection with the burglary while he remained on life support at Jersey Shore.
Authorities are concerned for the homeowner’s safety, as threats have been made against him, officials said.
The 66-year-old homeowner has hired attorney Evan F. Nappen of Eatontown, who specializes in gun law. No charges have been filed against the homeowner.
Ocean County Medical Examiner Dr. Hydow Park described the manner of death as a “homicide,” said Capt. Thomas Hayes of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The manner of death can be listed as one of five designations: homicide, suicide, natural, accidental and undetermined.
A homicide designation indicates that one person caused the death of another. “Homicide” does not determine criminality, Hayes said.
Nappen said he is prepared to defend his client, who he said was well within his rights to shoot the intruder, Tucker, in “self defense.”
Nappen said his client was “truly afraid” for his own welfare when he found Tucker in his home.
“He is not someone who, in any way, is happy that he had to cause harm to another person,” Nappen said of his client. Tucker’s passing “is not something that makes him happy. But, when it comes down to it and your life is in danger, you have to defend yourself.”
New Jersey law states that an individual who discovers an unwanted person in their home has the right to presume they are in “imminent danger” and to take the steps to protect themselves, Nappen said.
“If they are in your home, there is a presumption of imminent danger,” Nappen said. The law puts a heavy burden on the prosecutor to prove that the intruder posed no threat to the homeowner who lawfully defends himself, he said.
“He was definitely in fear of his life and rightly so,” Nappen said.