Interviews

Hero or Vigilante?

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 11, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Impact" segment tonight, we continue our reporting on the Joe Horn case in Texas. He's the 61-year-old man who called 911 to report a burglary, then went out and shot the intruders dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE HORN, BURGLARIZED MAN WHO SHOT INTRUDERS: OK, he's coming out the window right now. I gotta go, buddy. I'm sorry, but he's coming out the window.

DISPATCHER: No, don't, don't go out the door. Mr. Horn? Mr. Horn?

HORN: God — they just stole something. I'm going out the window. I'm ain't letting them get away with this. They stole something. They got a bag of stuff. I'm doing it!...you hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going.

DISPATCHER: Don't go outside.

HORN: Move, you're dead!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Now Mr. Horn has not yet been charged. And under Texas law, he might not every be, but threats against him are flying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANONYMOUS VOICEMAIL: Don't worry about my name. But what you better do, you better indict Joe Horn and you better find him guilty. Because if you don't, somebody is going to kill him on the outside, and if he goes to prison, he's gonna get killed on the inside. It's as simple as that. They are waiting on him in prison, and we're waiting on him on the outside...We gonna kill that mother (EXPLETIVE). Bye

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Joining us now from Houston in a "Factor" exclusive, the attorney for Joe Horn, Tom Lambright. Where did that call come from? Where did you get that call?

TOM LAMBRIGHT, JOE HORN'S ATTORNEY: It's my understanding the district attorney's office fielded that call.

O'REILLY: OK. The D.A. in Harris County, Texas.

LAMBRIGHT: Yes sir.

O'REILLY: Called in a death threat. Do you think that Joe Horn, your client, is going to get indicted?

LAMBRIGHT: Well, it's hard to say. And there's a lot of emotion in this case. I hope that the people and the district attorney's office looks strictly at the facts. If they do, I think they will come to the conclusion that Joe Horn was defending his life, and had a right to do what he did.

O'REILLY: But that's hard to ascertain, because the 911 operator told him not to go out of the house and he did go out of the house. Now yesterday, we heard the police officer in Pasadena, the PIO, say that yes, the burglars did come very close to him between 7 to 10 feet. That is close. But he went out of the house. So how can you say that he was in fear of his life?

LAMBRIGHT: Well, I think if you look back on that tape, you'll hear the dispatcher what he can see. He says I can't see, I'm going to have to go outside in order to see, but the I'm not going without my shotgun. The dispatcher says something to the effect, well then, Mr. Horn, it's not worth going outside to get yourself killed. And he says I'm not going to let them kill me. He says I'm going outside.

He was trying to go outside to find out where these fellows were going. Remember, he had 911 on his telephone. He was trying to feed information to the police. What kind of car were they getting into, what was the license number. All he was going to do is help the police to track these people down. The last thing on Joe's mind was that he was going to come face-to-face with them in his front yard.

O'REILLY: Yes, but he made it quite clear that he was going out there to stop them from taking his stuff, his neighbor's stuff. So I think that you might have some problems there, but I'm not an attorney.

The other thing is the Castle Law, which in Texas is an interesting law. Does Mr. Horn fall under the Castle Law which says that you do have a right to be proactive in defending your property and sometimes your neighbor's property?

LAMBRIGHT: Well, it's a new law. And we haven't had many cases involving the Castle Doctrine. And particularly this case, I don't think the Castle Doctrine comes into play. I think this is more a situation of a man who is confronted by two individuals that have just committed a very serious crime. And he's afraid for his life. So it's a self-defense issue.

O'REILLY: Now has Mr. Horn had any trouble in the past? Has he ever been in any confrontations with the law?

LAMBRIGHT: Not that I'm aware of, no.

O'REILLY: Well, you'd be aware of it. You're his attorney. You asked him, didn't you?

LAMBRIGHT: Well, I'm more than that. I'm his friend. No, Joe has no criminal record at all.

O'REILLY: All right, so you have that advantage going in. There's a regular citizen, a regular guy, a law-abiding person comes in, does this. The only downside I can see, and again I'm here in New York, I'm not down there, is I listened and read the transcript the whole 911 tape. And the 911 guy was emphatic that he didn't want Mr. Horn to go out and confront these people. And Mr. Horn was equally as emphatic as saying I do want to stop this burglary. Why did he want to stop it so badly?

Because the reason I'm asking that is probably most Americans would have said look, it's not worth it for a burglary. I'll get the information. I'll help the police as much as I can, but I don't want to go out there and put myself in a life or death situation to stop somebody from stealing stuff. You see what I'm talking about?

LAMBRIGHT: Sure, do. And I don't think Joe thought when he went out that door that he was going to put himself in a life or threat — death situation. He was going out merely to get information to feed to 911, which was on his telephone. And he had his telephone with him. He had to walk out so he could get a view of the street. He had no earthly idea he was going to confront these people...

O'REILLY: Then why did he cock the shotgun inside the house?

LAMBRIGHT: No, he didn't. He cocked it when it goes outside.

O'REILLY: OK. Because on the cell phone, he cocked it on the outside.

LAMBRIGHT: Yes, what you're hearing, that clicking is the front door.

O'REILLY: Yes. Look, I'm sympathetic to your client. I think most Americans are. These are criminal illegal aliens. They were doing bad things. They had a long rap sheet, drug involved. I don't think anybody sympathizes with them. Nobody.

But to lose your life over a burglary, it's tough. If you had to make a bet, is your client going to be indicted or not?

LAMBRIGHT: I hope not.

O'REILLY: But you don't know for sure?

LAMBRIGHT: No, sir. There is absolutely no way to know for sure, but I — we sure hope not.

O'REILLY: All right, counselor. Well, we're going to follow the case. And Mr. Horn, we hope he's safe. And that threat obviously — I'm sure the police are protecting him. And if you need anything, let us know, OK?

LAMBRIGHT: Thank you very much.

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