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Summerlin backyard shooting ruled self-defense

The man who shot and killed a would-be burglar in his backyard last month will not face criminal charges.

After reviewing the case, the Clark County district attorney’s office decided the man acted in self-defense when he pulled the trigger March 20 in his Summerlin home.

“The homeowner was acting in defense of self and defense of his (home),” Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens said.

The shooting, which happened about 9:30 a.m. on the 2100 block of Spurs Court, near Town Center Drive and Sahara Avenue, killed Demarcus Carter, a 19-year-old with a history of committing residential burglaries.

The resident shot Carter multiple times through a backyard window, police said. Carter, who was unarmed, died in the yard.

Authorities did not identify the resident. Neighbors said he was in his late 50s and began renting the home about six months ago. They described him as a quiet person who kept to himself.

Owens said evidence suggested Carter was casing homes to burglarize the morning of the shooting.

“A neighbor saw the deceased casing other homes. He was knocking on doors and wandering around by the side yards,” Owens said.

Investigators think Carter scaled an 8-foot cinder-block wall to enter the backyard where he was shot. The entrance to the yard was closed by a padlocked iron gate.

Owens said investigators found physical evidence – supporting the homeowner’s statement – that a break-in was occurring at the time of the shooting.

There were fresh pry marks on a door to the house, a screen from a back window had been removed and when the shooting happened, Carter was “in the process of jimmying a sliding glass door,” Owens said.

Carter was struck at least five times, Owens said, including once in his face and once in his back after he turned to run away.

The homeowner told investigators that before the shooting, he made eye contact with Carter, who then kept trying to break in, Owens said. “That’s consistent with the physical evidence at the scene,” he said.

Carter’s criminal history included an arrest in April 2011 on 13 felonies, including burglary, grand larceny and possessing stolen property, according to court records.

Sources said Carter had a lengthy juvenile criminal record and gang ties.

In the April 2011 case, North Las Vegas police arrested Carter after catching him breaking into a home and stealing valuables, including an $800 watch, according to an arrest report. Police had Carter and another teenager under surveillance because they were suspects in several area break-ins.

During his interview with police, Carter confessed to several other burglaries. In one instance, Carter told police he stole a class ring from a home and gave it to his mother, according to the report.

When she asked where he got the ring, Carter told his mother, “I stole it from some little white boy,” the report said.

His mother, Vierla Johnson, pawned the ring for $800 and gave the cash to Carter and his friend, the report said. Carter traded his mother marijuana for the money.

In addition to the home burglaries, Carter admitted to taking three televisions from a CVS Pharmacy and stealing a laptop charger from a Radio Shack. When police searched his property, they found a stolen laptop and several hundred dollars in cash.

And he was suspected of stealing two televisions and a PlayStation 2 from a home in the valley, the report said.

Carter pleaded guilty in June to three felonies and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

He was arrested again in February after violating his probation. He admitted to the violations and was returned to probation two weeks before his fatal encounter.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

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