SPRINGVILLE — The Utah County Attorney's Office has determined that a Springville man who shot an intruder in his home was within his legal rights.
"We reviewed the investigation that Springville police did and our conclusion is that the shooting was legally justified," Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said Thursday.
Buhman said there is more than one state statute that covered the actions of Doug Yarrington, but he cited the statute on force in defense of habitation as his reasoning in a letter to police.
That statute states that a person is justified in using deadly force "to prevent or terminate the other's unlawful entry into or attack upon his habitation," especially if the intruder enters the home by stealth or in a violent manner and intends to act violently or commit a felony while in the home.
Buhman said he felt the statute best fit the circumstances of the incident.
Yarrington shot and killed Armando Martinez Jr., 31, around 2:50 a.m. on March 1 in the bedroom of his home at 763 S. 475 East.
Police said Martinez had walked through the neighborhood Yarrington lived in, checking as many as 20 homes for unlocked doors. He ultimately entered Yarrington's house through a sliding back door. The door was locked with a child lock, but Martinez apparently disabled it by pulling hard on the door.
Once inside, Martinez found some dry clothes and changed into them before making himself a snack, police said. He then entered the master bedroom and threatened Yarrington and his wife, saying he had a gun. He demanded that they retrieve their wallets and keys and drive him to an ATM.
Yarrington walked into a closet under the guise of getting ready to leave, but instead, took a 9mm handgun from the closet and shot Martinez, striking him once in the chest. The homeowner and his wife were uninjured.
Martinez never actually produced a weapon, and police reported that while he told the Yarringtons he had a stolen a gun, none was found at the crime scene.
There were three children — 3-year-old twin boys and an infant girl — inside the home at the time, police said.
"Martinez, at the time he was shot, was ... engaged in the commission of the crimes of burglary, robbery and kidnapping against Mr. Yarrington and his spouse. Additionally, when Mr. Martinez initially spoke to Mr. Yarrington and his spouse, he claimed to possess a gun and he made physical gestures that appeared to Mr. Yarrington to be confirmation that Mr. Martinez may have possessed a gun," Buhman wrote in a letter to the Springville police chief.
"In fact, at the point when Mr. Yarrington was able to grab his weapon, aim it at Mr. Martinez and verbally attempt to detain him, Mr. Martinez moved toward Mr. Yarrington and made gestures that appeared to be an attempt to access a gun."
Springville Police Lt. Dave Caron said the department investigated the incident as they would any shooting.
Caron said he often offers an opinion on the cases, but that the Utah County Attorney's Office has the final say. In this case, he agreed with Buhman that this was self-defense and justified under the law.
Police said the Yarrington family moved from the Springville home shortly after the incident.