Teen shot fatally, accidentally sneaking into wrong home

Posted at 11:43 PM, Mar 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-20 13:12:15-04

NORTHERN VIRGINIA (WTVR)--Shawn and Jennea Gordley, two heartbroken parents grieving the loss of their teenage son, spoke of their pain at press conference Tuesday near Sterling.

They spoke of their 16-year-old son Caleb as a lover of music and sports. Then they spoke about the man who took their son’s life.

“I just want you to know I forgive you. I understand this was an accident,” said the teen’s mother Jennae Gordley.

The teenager made a fatal mistake Saturday night. The teen was returning home quietly through a back window late at night, after sneaking out to a party.

Instead of his own home, the teen was mistakenly entering his neighbor's home, that looked quite similar. The neighbor was startled by the intrusion and shot and killed the teen.

“The law really supports self-defense in these circumstances," said legal analyst Todd Stone.

Stone said common law in Virginia sides with the homeowner in this situation. He cites that any reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm is enough to defend pulling the trigger.

"It's pretty reasonable if someone is breaking in to your home in the middle of the night to assume that they're there for no good and to assume that they're a threat to you," said Stone.

Gordley went to high school in Sterling and was a model student athlete, according to his parents.  Many of Gordley’s peers remain deeply saddened by the loss as investigators continue to piece together the timeline of events.  Stone said it's unlikely the investigation will ever get to court.

"I can't imagine a prosecutor charging this case if those are in fact the circumstances of the case,” said Stone.

That’s because according to Stone, it's not whether the intent of the intruder was good or bad that matters; it all comes down to the reasonable fear of the homeowner." He did it mistakenly but the law doesn’t really distinguish between those scenarios," said Stone.