The Caleb Gordley Justified Homicide Case

     Caleb A. Gordley, a 16-year-old junior at Parkview High School, lived with his father and his 13-year-old sister in Sterling, Virginia, a suburban community on the Maryland state line in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. C…

     Caleb A. Gordley, a 16-year-old junior at Parkview High School, lived with his father and his 13-year-old sister in Sterling, Virginia, a suburban community on the Maryland state line in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Caleb played on the varsity basketball team and aspired to be a rapper. His mother, Jennea, divorced from his father Shawn, resided in nearby Clayton.

     Just before midnight on Saturday, March 16, 2013, after being grounded for several days, Caleb sneaked out of his bedroom and walked down the street to a party at a friend's house. For the next two hours he joined the others in drinking shots of vodka.

     Caleb left the party at two in the morning and headed home. The boy was so intoxicated he climbed through an unlocked window at the rear of a house two doors from his house. When Caleb entered his neighbor's dwelling he triggered a motion detection intrusion sensor that awoke the homeowner, Donald Wilder. The 43-year-old lived in the suburban house, one that looked like the Gordley home, with his girlfriend.

     The burglar alarm activation caused Mr. Wilder to grab the 40-caliber pistol he kept near his bed. From the top of the stairs, Mr. Wilder saw, in the light produced by the intrusion alarm, the figure of a six-foot person standing in his kitchen. The homeowner yelled at the intruder to get out of his house. Caleb, thinking that he was being yelled at by his father, ignored the command and headed up the stairway.

     With an intruder walking up the steps toward him, Mr. Wilder fired a warning shot to turn the invader back. The shot, however, did not cause the home intruder to retreat. When Caleb brushed past the homeowner at the top of the stairs, Mr. Wilder fired a second shot. The bullet hit Caleb in the back. The boy turned around and said, "You just shot me." He turned back around, took a few steps, collapsed and died.

     The next morning, Shawn Gordley awoke to find that Caleb was not in the house. A little later he heard the news about a fatal shooting that had occurred in the neighborhood. The father did not connect the incident to his missing son. Later that day the bad news reached him.

     In speaking to a local television reporter on the Monday following his son's death, Mr. Gordley said, "I definitely don't blame him [Donald Wilder]. I know he was trying to protect his family. I forgive him." Jennea Gordley, about a week after her son's homicide, said, "It was not absolutely necessary for my son to lose his life." Rather than suggesting measures to keep alcohol out of the hands of teenagers, she called for better training for gun owners.

     On September 10, 2013, following an investigation by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman announced his decision not to file criminal charges against Mr. Wilder. The prosecutor believed Mr Wilder had a reasonable fear for his life and the life of his girlfriend. Based on the doctrine of self defense, the case was deemed a justifiable homicide.

     Shortly before the Loundoun County prosecutor's announcement, Shawn and Jennea Gordley received copies of the sheriff's office investigative report. Caleb's parents, after reading the police report, questioned Mr. Wilder's judgment. Jennea Gordley, in speaking to a reporter with ABC News, said, "If you're really in fear of danger of your life and your family's life, why would you allow a person that appeared to be dazed walk right past you and then you shoot him in the back?"

     Shawn Gordley, having once forgiven Mr. Wilder, said, "He could have shot Caleb in the leg. Instead he lined himself up at the perfect angle to shoot a hollow point bullet through my son's lung and explode his chest and then a fourth shot at his head for good measure." [The two shots after the fatal bullet both missed.]

     Donald Wilder, in a written statement wrote: "As you can imagine, the incident was an unfortunate tragedy on every level."

     While Shawn and Jennea Gordley questioned the necessity for the fatal shooting, they did not call for the criminal prosecution of Mr. Wilder. On that issue, Jennea Gordley said, "Do I hate him [Mr. Wilder]? No. Do I want him put away? No. I don't think that's going to solve anything."  

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/