Castle Doctrine means no charges in bow-and-arrow killing

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Somerset County District Attorney Jerry Spangler will not charge a man who fatally shot another man with a bow and arrow, saying today that changes in the state's Castle Doctrine factored into his decision.

Mr. Spangler said the unidentified 38-year-old Center City man who confessed to shooting Tony L. Bittinger on Oct. 10 claimed he did so in self-defense.

Mr. Bittinger was found shot through the chest with an arrow near the front steps to the man's house.

The Castle Doctrine was amended this summer to expand a homeowner's right to use deadly force against intruders, Mr. Spangler said.

The new Castle Doctrine expands a homeowner's "castle" to include porches and eliminates the owner's duty to retreat before attacking an intruder.

Mr. Spangler said the man might not have been charged under the old statute, but the new law "makes it much clearer" that the shooting was justified.

Trooper Joseph Drzal said Mr. Bittinger, who had been romantically involved with the man's wife, made several threatening phone calls to the man before driving up to his home to confront him. There, he threatened the man with a heavy wooden club.

The man told him to leave repeatedly. When Mr. Bittinger attempted to come up the stairs, the man shot him in the chest with an arrow. He died before first responders arrived.


Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2533.


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