Constitutional question delays murder trial

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Castle doctrine affirms rights to protect hearth and home

By Linda Ireland

The trial for a Magnolia man accused of murder has been delayed as the Kentucky Supreme Court decides the constitutionality of the castle doctrine.

David S. McFarland, 45, faces charges of murdering 22-year-old Sabrina Shirley at his home in July 2007. Officers said he shot Shirley, his former stepdaughter, in the face as she stood on the porch of his home. McFarland told police she became violent prior to the shooting.

McFarland was not charged with murder until Oct. 31, 2007, due to questions about Kentucky’s new self-defense law, also called the castle doctrine. The law allows the use of deadly force to defend one’s home or against an intruder.

McFarland was scheduled for trial in LaRue Circuit Court, however, prosecutor and defense attorney agreed to postpone proceedings until the state’s Supreme Court has ruled in two similar Louisville cases. The ruling is expected to affect the outcome of McFarland’s case. 

The court must address several questions when the facts are disputed including: Who decides whether the alleged perpetrator was really a home intruder?

McFarland’s case is on the Feb. 2 docket for reassignment of a trial date.

In the meantime, McFarland remains in jail.