Goshen News, Goshen, IN

August 22, 2013

Homeowner who shot, killed intruder takes the stand in Elkhart Circuit Court

By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — Three young men are on trial due to the shooting death of Danzele Johnson. In Elkhart Circuit Court today, jurors heard from the man who pulled the trigger.

Rodney Scott recounted what happened Oct. 3, 2012, at 1919 Frances Ave., Elkhart. He fired several shots after intruders broke into his home. Johnson, a 21-year-old Goshen resident, was killed. Blake Layman, 17, Elkhart, was shot in the leg.

Prosecutors say Anthony Perez Sharp Jr., 19, Goshen, Jose Quiroz, 17, and Layman also entered the home while Levi Sparks, 18, Elkhart, served as a lookout outside. The three have been charged with felony murder. Under Indiana law, if someone dies during the commission of a felony, those who were engaged in the underlying felony can be carged in the person’s death.

Quiroz, who lived across the street from Scott, late last year entered a guilty plea in the case. He received a 45-year sentence to the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Scott testified today that on the day of the break-in, he woke up from a nap in his upstairs bedroom at 2:30 p.m.

“As soon as I sat up on the side of the bed, there was this ‘boom!’ and my whole house just shook,” he said. A second or two later Scott heard the noise again — and then heard it a third time.

“And I said, ‘My goodness,’” Scott recalled.

Scott told the jury his next-door neighbor’s home had been broken into a week or two prior. He’d picked up his cell phone when he heard the noises in his home. Scott loaded his .9mm handgun — which he testified he’d never fired before — and went downstairs.

Scott walked quietly at first, then ran down the last set of steps to make a lot of noise. Downstairs, he saw someone run from the kitchen. He also saw two people — later determined to be Johnson and Quiroz — in the doorway of the bedroom.

“You see all these people in your house, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you,” he said.

Scott fired the handgun in the direction of the bedroom doorway. He said his goal had been to trap the intruders in the bedroom. Johnson and Quiroz ran into the bedroom, and into a closet. Scott dialed 911 and waited for police.

“I would shout at them ‘Keep the (closet) door closed,’” he said of the intruders. Scott said Quiroz told him his companion had been shot.

“I said, ‘What?” Scott recalled.

Scott said he didn’t see any weapons on the intruders, and they never threatened him. However, he indicated he felt threatened by the break-in itself.

“Anytime someone kicks in your door and enters your house, you feel threatened,” Scott said.

On the witness stand, Scott said he had no intention of shooting anyone. He also talked about Johnson’s death.  

“I feel horrible about that because I don’t understand how it happened,” he said.

The trial continues this afternoon.