KEARNS — Neighbors are coming to the defense of man who shot and killed a 19-year-old who was allegedly trying to break into the man's home.
"What do you do when someone is trying to break into your house?" said one neighbor, Jason Dickinson.
Beatrice Hernandez, another neighbor, added, "I think he did what he needed to do."
The homeowner, who lives near 5900 South and 5100 West, reported hearing his doorbell ring about 1 a.m. on Monday. He didn't find anyone at the door and went back to bed.
About 3 a.m., he was awoken by another noise and found a man trying to break into his house through his back sliding glass door, said Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson.
"He (the homeowner) had armed himself and apparently took one shot through the sliding glass door," Hutson said. "Then the burglar ran away. That was all he knew at the time of the call."
Police responded and found the body of Kyle Stuart Poulton of Kearns, about 50 yards away. He had been shot in the chest and was declared dead at the scene, Hutson said.
"Obviously this is something the district attorney's office will have to look at and something we talk about frequently, about defense of habitation and what rights do we have to protect ourselves and our home. This homeowner had two small children in the home. Clearly somebody was attempting to break into his home and that's something that's going to have to be looked at by the district attorney's office," Hutson said.
A local attorney and authority on self-defense law believes the homeowner will not be charged with a crime. Mitch Vilos said Utah's self-defense statute allows someone "to use deadly force to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. And burglary is a forcible felony."
The author of the book "The Self Defense Law of all 50 States" said an intruder doesn't have to be in the home for the homeowner to open fire. Vilos said the burglar just has to be trying to get into the home.
But Vilos said a gun-toting homeowner shouldn't go too far. "Once that force against you has ceased, you have a responsibility to stop using force."
Poulton reportedly lived just two miles from the where the shooting occurred.
Poulton's father said that his son, who pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in Tooele County Justice Court in September, was a good kid trying to get his life together.
Poulton was the youngest of four children, had a job and was considering joining the military. His father said the family can't understand what he was doing. Poulton's family said they are hoping to have his organs donated.
Another man, 18-year-old Derek Sego, was with Poulton at the time of the attempted robbery and was arrested late Monday, according to Hutson. Sego was apparently the man whom the homeowner heard run away after the shot was fired.
Hutson said Sego told police he was with Poulton when they rang the doorbell and was at another window, trying to break in, when Poulton was shot and killed.
Contributing: Sam Penrod, Shara Park, Randall Jeppesen and Cleon Wall