Monday, February 19, 2007

Right or Wrong?


ABBEVILLE, South Carolina (AP) -- A South Carolina man was convicted Sunday of murdering two law enforcement officers in 2003 after becoming irate the state was taking land near his parents' home for a road project.

Steven Bixby, 39, faces the death penalty when sentencing begins Tuesday for the shooting deaths of the officers in this small town near the Georgia state line.

His family was upset the state wanted about 20 feet of land near their home to widen a highway. Bixby and his father had threatened to gun down any officer on their land, according to witnesses. (Full story)

Bixby had stockpiled shotguns and ammunition in his parents' home and told a former girlfriend he was ready for a fight, according to testimony in the case.

Later, he bragged in a letter that he could have killed more people.

"Well, he's just a hell of a nice guy, isn't he? He only shot two people and he could have shot eight," prosecutor Jerry Peace said during his closing statements earlier Sunday.

County sheriff's Sgt. Danny Wilson was the first to die in the shootings at the Bixby home. He had gone there to discuss the family's anger over the road, only to be mowed down while standing on the front porch, his body then dragged inside, according to authorities.

State Constable Donnie Ouzts arrived to check on Wilson once radio contact with the officer was lost. He was shot as he stepped out of his patrol car and died on the way to the hospital.

Police surrounded the house for the rest of the day and the standoff finally ended after hundreds of rounds were exchanged. His father, Arthur Bixby, was wounded in the fusillade and also charged with murder. No trial date has been set in his case.

Rita Bixby, Steven's mother, was charged as an accessory because authorities say she knew her family planned to harm police officers. She was not home when the shootings took place.

On Saturday, Rita Bixby testified she was proud of her son.

"He has the right to protect his property by any means necessary," the 74-year-old mother said.

Defense attorney Bill Nettles stressed that the Bixby family asked the governor and other officials to help resolve the property dispute several days before the shootings, and noted the family attended public hearings about the road project.

"If this was an ambush," said Nettles, "it was the most well-published ambush in the history of the world."

Do you think this man had the right to defend his property? I do.

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