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breaking news

UPDATE: Child inside home when woman killed

Did Ga. homeowner 'stand his ground' against man with Alzheimer's?


A man who shot and killed a stranger with Alzheimer's early Wednesday may not be charged because of Georgia's controversial "stand your ground" law.

The 72-year-old man, Ronald Westbrook, had walked three miles wearing just a straw hat and light jacket in sub-freezing temperatures before knocking on a door in Walker County, Ga., around 4 a.m. Wednesday, authorities told the Chattanooga Times Free Press .

Westbrook's son told deputies later that his father was lost. But the couple at the home thought he was a prowler, and the woman called 911. While waiting for deputies to arrive, the woman's fiance, Joe Hendrix, went outside with a handgun, authorities said.

Hendrix, 34, told deputies that he confronted Westbrook in his yard, gave him verbal commands and then shot him when he wouldn't respond. Hendrix fired four times, hitting Westbrook in the chest.

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Georgia's self-defense law generally allows a person to use force when they have reason to believe they are under a physical threat. The law does not necessarily require a person to retreat from a perceived threat even if backing down is possible. That's a distinction from traditional self-defense laws that gave homeowners wide latitude to defend themselves inside their residences, while typically requiring someone in any other location to seek ways to back down without resorting to violent action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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