A district attorney considered prosecuting a disabled man in a wheelchair for shooting a burglar who allegedly tried to steal his prescription medications.
Disturbingly, 69-year-old Harvey Lembo had to wait almost two years to find out if he would face charges for shooting the burglar, Christopher Wildhaber.
“Mr. Lembo is disabled and uses a wheelchair,” District Attorney Johnathan Liberman said in a press release. “His home had been burglarized on several occasions, and he had purchased the firearm in question in response to these burglaries.
“This shooting occurred when Mr. Lembo interrupted a burglary of his home,” Liberman added. “The standard of proof in criminal cases is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and I do not believe that we could meet this burden given these factors.”
Lembo bought an antique Russian army revolver in 2015 because he was frustrated with break-ins at his Rockland, Maine, home, The Portland Press Herald reported. Less than 24 hours later, Wildhaber broke into Lembo’s apartment and allegedly tried to steal his prescription drugs. That prompted the retired lobster fisherman to put a 7mm slug into Wildhaber’s shoulder.
He claims it was the fifth burglary at his apartment in six years.
“Mr. Lembo never felt he did anything wrong defending himself. He is grateful that District Attorney Liberman came to the same conclusion,” Attorney David Weyrens, who represented Lembo, told the newspaper.
Wildhaber pled guilty to the burglary and received a four-year sentence in 2016, The Press Herald reported. Despite the plea, then-District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau kept the possibility of charges against Lembo open; in May of this year he resigned to accept a district court judge’s seat.
Lembo’s landlord, Stanford Management LLC, tried to evict him for his taxpayer-subsidized apartment because he owned a gun, The Press Herald reported.
Lembo’s case prompted Maine’s state legislature to pass and the governor to sign a law that would prohibit landlords who receive public housing vouchers from kicking out tenants for owning guns.
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