Some days criminals just don’t leave you any choice. New Year’s Eve was precisely one of those days for Sarah Dawn McKinley of Blanchard, Oklahoma, south of Oklahoma City.
Sarah’s husband died from cancer on Christmas Day, just months after their baby was born. Obviously still grieving the loss, she was home alone on New Year’s Eve when two men decided that terrorizing a grieving mother was just the thing to do, presumably “for kicks.”
After barricading the door in what was ultimately an unsuccessful effort to keep the home invaders out, Sarah McKinley retreated to her bedroom with her child, a bottle of milk, and her loaded shotgun.
She dialed 9-1-1 and was on the phone with 9-1-1 operator Diane Graham when the men were finally able to gain entrance to her home.
Just prior to this, Sarah had asked the 9-1-1 operator, quite calmly given the circumstances,
"I've got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?"
While the 9-1-1 operator Diane Graham could not tell Sarah to shoot anyone, she did say this:
"I can't tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby."
Oklahoma is one of the 30 progressive American states that have implemented what has become known as “Castle Doctrine”, meaning that an individual inside their own home has no duty to retreat from someone who is endangering them.
It’s a good law, and one that more American states and every Canadian province should implement.
The two young men, one of whom was armed with a 12” hunting knife, clearly were not there for any valid reason. They had been attempting to break into Sarah’s mobile home for about 25 minutes, and finally were able to make their way inside.
Justin Martin, the 24-year-old man armed with the knife, was shot and killed after entering the home; 29-year-old Dustin Louis Stewart fled the scene but turned himself in to authorities some time later.
Police took so long to respond to the young woman’s distress call to 9-1-1, primarily because she lives in the middle of nowhere, but they did finally arrive and made all the right decisions when they did.
Sarah McKinley will NOT be charged with any crime. That’s a good thing, since she didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, she did everything right, and then some.
The young widow, just 18 years old, had the foresight not only to grab her baby and a gun, but also to grab a bottle of milk to keep her infant son busy while she dealt with the threat to both of them.
She called “the men with guns” (the police) to come save her, even though they ultimately were unable to do so.
Lastly, she did what she had to do to keep herself and her baby safe from harm.
She put an end to the threat the only way possible; by defending herself with a firearm.
It takes a certain kind of depraved human being to stalk a young woman who had just buried her husband earlier that day.
It takes a very strong person to deal with that sort of threat when she is all alone in the middle of nowhere with her infant son.
Watching the various video clips of this amazing and courageous young woman be interviewed left me with nothing but admiration for Sarah McKinley. She is a very strong individual who clearly did what she had to do to protect herself and her son, and she wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
“I would do it again,” she says in the video below.
“Not because I’d want to, but because of my son.”
Before I congratulate you, Sarah, please let me first offer my condolences to you for the recent loss of your husband.
This was obviously not a very happy Christmas for you, and to have your grief and loss compounded by two morons intent on doing you harm the same day as you buried your husband is simply inexcusable and incomprehensible.
Your actions, however, are as commendable as they are courageous.
Listening to how calm and rational you were while you talked to the 9-1-1 operator simply amazed me. So many people twice your age would be hysterical in that situation. You conducted yourself impeccably and I commend you, not only for how you handled yourself, but for doing what you had to do to protect your son and yourself from these evil men.
Like Sarah and any right-thinking human being, I believe the lives of a mother and her infant son are ALWAYS worth more than the pond scum trying to do them harm.
There is also a beautiful, albeit ironic, twist of the law that comes into play in this case. Under Oklahoma law, if anyone dies during the commission of a criminal offense, the criminal or criminals committing the offence are responsible for that death, regardless of who actually caused it.
So even though it was Sarah who shot and killed Justin Martin, it is Dustin Louis Stewart who now faces a First Degree Felony Murder charge for Martin’s death.
"When you're engaged in a crime such as first-degree burglary and a death results from the events of that crime, you're subject to prosecution for it," said Grady County Assistant District Attorney James Walters.
How perfect is that!
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