Trespassing tragedy averted in North HudsonA night of drinking could have ended tragically for an 18-year-old who mistakenly entered a North Hudson home on April Fool’s Day.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
A night of drinking could have ended tragically for an 18-year-old who mistakenly entered a North Hudson home on April Fool’s Day.
The homeowners in the 300 block of Fourth Street N. were upstairs preparing for bed around 11 p.m. when they heard the door open and someone come into the house. Realizing that he had forgotten to lock the door, the homeowner picked up his gun, a .357 Magnum, and proceeded downstairs to confront the intruder.
Who he found was Kenneth D. Darling Jr. of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., who appeared to be intoxicated and disoriented and was barefoot. Darling apparently took off his shoes upon entering the home and left them at the front door.
Coming down the stairs, the homeowner yelled at Darling, asking what he was doing there and telling him to get out. Darling did. He was nowhere to be found when North Hudson Police arrived at the home.
While searching the area, police came upon a young woman who said she was looking for her brother who had not arrived at her North Hudson home as expected. She said they had been drinking together with their father at Pudge’s Bar in downtown Hudson earlier in the evening and that her brother was intoxicated. The brother matched the description of the man police were looking for.
Police located Darling sitting on a street curb in the area. He did appear intoxicated and had no recollection of the trespassing incident. When police asked him where his shoes were, he said they must be at his sister’s house.
He was taken into custody and faces charges of criminal trespass to a dwelling and underage drinking.
North Hudson Police Chief Mark Richert said the homeowner was well within his rights to confront Darling with a loaded weapon and could have fired on him with no legal consequences.
The law states an actor is immune from civil liability arising out of his or her use of force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm if he or she reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent imminent death or bodily harm to himself or herself or to another person.
Richert said that according to Wisconsin’s “castle doctrine,” homeowners have a right to protect their homes with use of force, including deadly force, against any unlawful intrusion. Within the walls of a private residence, business, or vehicle a court may not consider whether a person had an opportunity to flee or retreat before he or she used force and presumes that the person reasonably believed that the force was necessary.
“This man was extremely lucky not to have lunged or fallen toward the homeowner who would have been within his rights to fire that gun. The homeowner showed restraint and did the right thing by yelling at the man to leave but this could have ended very differently and very tragically,” said Richert.
The case points to another issue that the North Hudson Police Department has dealt with before.
Richert said that according to Wisconsin law, the 18-year-old could legally consume alcohol purchased for him by his father at the bar downtown. But Richert said things changed when he was no longer with his family members and came into North Hudson
The North Hudson Village Ordinance 6-1 increases the restrictions on underage possession/consumption while in the village.
The ordinance reads as follows:
While it was legal for Darling’s father to purchase him alcohol while they were together in Hudson, Richert said that once he entered the village Darling was in violation of the second stipulation of the ordinance by not being in the company of his father while still under the influence.
“If he had been, the trespassing incident, which could have ended much differently, would not likely have happened,” said Richert.