LAREDO -- A Texas jury has acquitted a man accused of killing a child who broke into his home looking for a snack.
The case sparked outrage in this border city, where many thought the man should not have even been charged.
It took the jury of eight men and four women three hours Friday to find 63-year-old Jose Luis Gonzalez not guilty of murdering Francisco Anguiano. The 13-year-old and three friends broke into Gonzalez's trailer to rummage for snacks and soda one night in July 2007.
Gonzalez said he was sorry for the tragedy but said he feared for his life.
Texas law allows homeowners to use deadly force to protect themselves and their property. In June, a grand jury in Houston cleared a homeowner who shot and killed two burglars outside his neighbor's house despite the dispatcher's repeated request that he stay inside his own home.
Assistant District Attorney Uriel Druker maintained during his closing arguments that the case was not about homeowners' right to protect their property but about when a person was justified in using deadly force to do so.
Gonzalez had endured several break-ins at his trailer when the four boys, ranging in age from 11-15, broke into the mobile home. Gonzalez was in a nearby building but went into the trailer and confronted the boys with a 16-gauge shotgun.
Attorneys for both sides say he forced the unarmed boys to their knees. The boys say they were begging for forgiveness when Gonzalez hit them with the barrel of the shotgun and kicked them repeatedly.
The medical examiner testified that Anguiano was shot in the back at close range.