Teen shooting deaths evoke emotions, legal questions

Family members of the two 17-year-olds shot to death Wednesday night by a man who said they trespassed on his Dayton property mourned their loss Friday and raised questions about their deaths.

Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson were shot to death.

A third teen — Jashin Gregory Gibson, 19 — was being held in connection with the incident. Gibson was detained on a parole violation and a preliminary charge of breaking and entering.

Dayton police detained the Conners Street resident who called 911 to report that he shot the teens, questioned the man, then released him, pending further investigation.

MORE: Police chief: State will have to prove if man who fatally shot 2 Dayton teens did not act in self-defense

Davonna Henderson, Devin’s older sister, said he is one of seven siblings, including a twin brother.

“He was so in tune with his video games, he was a gamer,” she said. “We used to have to force him or convince him to go outside …”

Davonna Henderson said she understands the task that lies ahead for law enforcement to determine what happened on Wednesday night, but wants to make sure that the truth, whatever that may be, comes out.

“I just hope they go for what’s right,” she said. “What’s right and not because of some law telling people that basically if you see someone on your property… which even is a question if that’s considered part of his property… that they have full fledge to take someone’s life before they can even finish it.”

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Derren Henderson, twin brother to Devin, was born two minutes before Devin. He said he feels Devin’s death could have been avoided.

“My brother wouldn’t harm anybody,” Derren Henderson said. “If that man would have came out nicely, ‘Hey y’all kids please get off my property,’ they would have left.”

Family members and friends held a vigil and balloon launch Thursday night in honor Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison.

Several residents were supportive of the property owner Friday and felt the teens were in the wrong for trespassing into the man’s detached garage.

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“That man (property owner) didn’t do anything wrong,” said resident April Smith. “It is easy for kids to get into trouble but hard to get out of it.”

Police have not released the shooter’s identity in the incident reported just after 9:30 p.m.

Property records indicate the house is owned by Victor Santana, who purchased it for $8,000 in 2015.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said any potential charges will involve a review of Ohio law regarding self-defense as well as the Castle Doctrine, which allows residents to protect themselves at their residence.

“It will take time for us to comb through the evidence and statements in order to determine if what transpired was a criminal act or an act of self defense,” Biehl said Thursday.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck’s office released a statement on the incident Friday afternoon.

“As to the self-defense/Castle Doctrine question, the recent fatal shooting of the two teens is a pending matter, and as such, Mr. Heck is unable to speak to about any possible defenses the suspect may claim. Furthermore, our office has not received any investigatory reports in this matter,” the statement said.

Marc Clauson, Cedarville University professor of history and law, said the issue of the Castle Doctrine and self-defense are issues that will need to be considered.

Ohio’s Castle Doctrine deals with the rights of homeowner to protect their residence.

A recent change in Ohio law regarding self defense means that defendants no longer have the burden to prove all elements of self defense. Now, if self defense is claimed, it is up to the prosecution to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

“If someone breaks into your house with a gun, you may use deadly force or force proportionate to the force they are using or threatening, and the legal presumption will be that you were threatened by that level of force,” Clauson said.

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