WOODBINE, Md. (WMAR) — On Tuesday, Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson held a press conference and announced that there will be no charges placed against Charles Dorsey due to Maryland's law of self-defense.
Dorsey shot and killed 46-year-old Gary Espinoza early in the morning of July 21. The shocked Woodbine homeowners thought he was trying to break in. Friends said he thought he was banging on their door to get inside.
According to Howard County Police, doorbell video captured the incident. They said it showed Espinoza wearing a pair of shorts, banging on the front door of the Dorsey's home, just across the driveway from the home he was staying at.
Police said Espinoza was heard “shouting profanity and threats,” saying at one time “I’m going to f— you up,” and, “you want a piece of this s—.” During the incident, the homeowner, 56-year-old Charles Dorsey, can be heard yelling back from inside the house that Espinoza should leave. Dorsey's wife also called 911. Eventually Espinoza is seen jostling the door handle in an attempt to gain entry, police said. The door then releases, and Espinoza is shot, at which point Dorsey can be heard shouting, “He pushed the door open. He pushed the door open,” police said.
Espinoza died from his injuries.
Espinoza was described as a loving husband, father to two boys, an entrepreneur and a great best friend who would always check up on you. He was up from his home in Chantilly, Virginia with his wife, visiting friends in Woodbine over the weekend when the tragic mix up happened.
“He was one of my best friends. He was such a great guy,” said Michael Sweeney, who Espinoza was staying with.
He said the two have been friends for almost 15 years, and he and his wife had come to visit for a pool party all Saturday. Sweeney said just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Espinoza went over to their neighbor's house, who was also at the pool party, and never made it back to the Sweeney's where he was to stay the night with his wife.
“He had a beautiful life that was taken from him. He made a mistake. He got confused and went to the wrong house,” said Sweeney.
Espinoza's family and friends have a lot of questions surrounding what happened and why, but they believe he mixed up the Sweeney's pool and fence with the Dorsey's, because they look very similar and and are close to each other.
“We believe he thought he was at our home and was attempting to enter our house, where he had planned on spending the night,” said Sweeney.
As for the threats, Sweeney said he believes Espinoza was jokingly yelling because he thought his friends were purposefully locking him out. Sweeney said that's just how they would talk to each other.
Sweeney said Espinoza put himself through Radford University. He went on to have two sons with Joanne Espinoza, whom he met at Radford and who became his wife of more than 20 years.
“They were best friends and were lucky enough to work together every day. He was a proud and dedicated father who was an active and constant participant in the lives of his sons. Gary was warm-hearted and fun-loving friend who always had a smile on his face and kind words for others. He was loved by all who knew him,” said Sweeney. “I want to be like him. If I had to be like anybody, Gary's the kind of guy I'd want to be like.”
Doorbell video captured the 13 minute encounter, and on Tuesday, the Howard County States Attorney released four minutes that showed critical points.
The video shows Espinoza ringing the door bell repeatedly, waking up the Dorsey's. He identifies himself and starts knocking before Charles Dorsey tells him to leave.
He followed Dorsey's orders and moves to the driveway but then returned, yelling profanity and threats as he becomes increasingly agitated.
When he left again, Mrs. Dorsey called 911 for the second time saying that he is not at the front porch anymore and Mr. Dorsey proceeds to unlock the deadbolt, knowing the police are nearby. Then Espinoza comes back, jostling the locked door handle.
This is when he opened the door and Mr. Dorsey proceeded to shoot him once in the shoulder.
Howard County State's Attorney Rich Gibson said that though there was horrible circumstances all around, there was no crime. Stating that Dorsey legally owned the gun and was justified under the laws of self-defense.
"It’s very clear that Mr. Dorsey had a reasonable subjective belief that he was in danger and his wife was in danger of physical harm based upon the behavior of Mr. Espinoza and the language used," said Gibson. "Again I think it’s all a misunderstanding. I think Mr. Espinoza didn’t actually mean the words but those words being heard by someone who doesn’t know Mr. Espinoza are terrifying.
An autopsy showed Espinoza had a BAC level that was 2 to 3 times the legal limit.
"The horrible loss of life in this case is product of a series of unfortunate coincidences that all came together to end in a horrific result."
Dorsey's attorney sent out the following statement in response to Tuesday's presser:
The Dorseys appreciate the hard work and diligence of the Howard County Police Department in their handling of this investigation. They also appreciate the thoughtful determination of Mr. Gibson’s Office. However, they are mindful that this was a tragic situation, and their thoughts and prayers are extended to Mr. Espinoza’s family and friends.