Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Taking The Rhetoric of Property Way Too Far

Some readers might be familiar with the case of Steven Bixby, who was convicted of killing two police officers in dispute over South Carolina's use of eminent domain to take 20 feet of Bixby's land to widen a highway.  From a CNN story on Bixby:

The 39-year-old man was convicted Sunday, after a five-day trial, of murdering the two officers. On Tuesday, the penalty phase of his trial begins; the same jury that convicted him has a choice of sentencing him to death or to life without chance of parole.

His family was upset because the state wanted to take about 20 feet of land near their home to widen a highway. Witnesses said Bixby and his father, who is awaiting trial on murder charges, had threatened to gun down any officer who set foot on their land. . . .

On the stand for the defense Saturday, Bixby's mother [testified:] "He has the right to protect his property by any means necessary." . . .

The 20 feet of land the family refused to give up has since been used to expand a highway that runs near the now-vacant home.

Ben Barros

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