Why The Bias Against Victims?

Larry Price
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Wednesday - June 30, 2005
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In September of last year I found myself feeling a great deal of sympathy for Kahuku farmer Khamxath Baccam.

He had complained on many occasions to police that someone was stealing his farm’s equipment and products. The calls for help did no good as the burglaries continued. Baccam couldn’t take it and bought a shotgun to protect his family and his farm.

On a lonely night, he was confronted by the burglar and one thing led to another. Baccam fired his shotgun at the burglar on a isolated dirt road near his Kahuku farm in the middle of the night. Sadly, he hit the burglar in the leg and he bled to death. The burglar had a history of crystal methamphetamine use, according to court records and police admitted he was a suspect stealing from Kahuku farms to support his drug habit.

So it was self-defense, right? Wrong. City prosecutors charged Baccam with murder because he fired the shotgun that inflicted the fatal injury to the thief. Other farmers beleaguered with thefts estimated at $1 million a year around the state met after the shooting, hoping to find a solution to prevent the thefts — and in the process set up a fund to pay for Baccam’s legal expenses.

It would seem to the layman that Baccam is innocent, because he was defending himself, his family, his property and his business. It doesn’t seem right that he should have to stand trial for murder. If he had tried to perform a citizen’s arrest on the burglar high on crystal methamphetamine he could have been seriously hurt or even killed.

What do the police want victims to do?

Maybe it’s not correct to ask a question like that. Maybe we should ask the Judiciary or the Legislature what they expect the victims to do in circumstances like this one.

Meanwhile, the farmers are still losing their crops to drug users who need the money for more dope.

And then a couple weeks ago the police saw fit to arrest a 42-year-old Makaha man after he allegedly beat a boy who broke into his house and stole some of his property. The man went to the boy’s home, entered and assaulted him, then recovered his stolen items. The boy suffered minor injuries, according to police reports. And after talking with the accused thief, officers then went to the Makaha man’s house and arrested him in his house for investigation of firstdegree burglary.

So in one short period of time, the suspect became the victim and the victim was arrested and became a burglary suspect. So the victim will be on trial for what? Retrieving his stolen property from the suspect’s home.

These two cases pose aninteresting dilemma for the Judiciary, legislators, prosecutors and HPD officials. If victims can not defend their homes, property, business and family when attacked by drug users, what would they like the victims to do when under assault?

I can understand where the idea of “taking the law into your own hands” can lead to many ramifications, most of which are deplorable. But why should victims suffer the indignation of defending themselves in a court of law when all they were doing was protecting their families, their property and their welfare? Not only is it not fair, it’s sadly ridiculous.

Someone in power should realize they may be inadvertently promoting a rise in vigilantism.

Call it irresponsible if you like. But the victims of these kinds of crimes may one day get the laws changed to favor victims.

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