GOOSE CREEK, SC—A local story is gaining some national attention. A Goose Creek man charged with double murder is now out on bond.
Court documents say, James Loftis shot two people, burned their bodies and then buried them in his backyard. This had many people asking the question, “how can someone charged with this kind of crime be allowed to leave jail?”
A circuit court judge granted bond for $250,000. We talked to Loftis’ lawyer, Stephen Harris, about his defense.
Harris argued Loftis is protected from the murder charge because of Castle Doctrine. This allows you to defend yourself, your family and your belongings inside your home from an intruder. Castle Doctrine allows you to use even deadly force if someone breaks into your home.
Harris breaks it down. “He goes inside, he locks the door, somebody kicks it in, he kills them. Let’s stop right there. What’s he guilty of? Nothing. It’s what he did afterwards that’s making everybody say, ‘oh that’s gotta be murder.’ Yes, it is terrible what happened afterwards, but it doesn’t change what happens beforehand.”
Harris says that his forensic expert believes with 100% certainty that someone kicked the door down at the Loftis house and says he has the evidence to back it up. “There’s blood inside a kicked in door jam and you’re not going to see that if a door is intact,” said Harris. “There’s a footprint right next to the doorknob. Even in the police’s photos…the door will not close all the way.”
He also says there is testimony from a woman who knew the two victims saying she wouldn’t put it passed them to try to break in and rob someone.
Harris also argues that the case lacks crucial elements like Malice of Forethought and a motive. He explains why he thinks these things are missing. “[Loftis], a guy who’s 39 years old with no record, a family man with the same job for 21 years just decided one night, I’m going to become a murder tonight over $40…OR…someone kicked in his door and he defends himself.”
Harris says it’s Castle Doctrine that allows Loftis to defend himself like that, but many say that Loftis got out of jail based on the Stand Your Ground defense. Harris says that’s wrong. “Stand your ground is for what happens outside the home. Castle doctrine is specifically your home.”
Because of the Castle Doctrine, Harris says Loftis should face a different charge of Desiccation of Human Remains. “Desecration of human remains is what the charge should have been and that’s a 1-10 year felony it’s not like it’s a 30 day misdemeanor. It’s a serious crime.”
At this time, the only charge Loftis faces is murder. He has a hearing coming up where a judge has the power to rule that the murder charge has no ground due to Castle Doctrine; however, Harris thinks the judge will leave that decision up to a jury in a full blown trial.