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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The (Big) Sleepover

posted by on June 25 at 12:25 PM

Poor guy.

Michael Shane Smith’s mom died last month, so he left Alaska to visit some friends in Sutherlin, Oregon (population 6669). Got too drunk one night, probably blacked out, found his way into a stranger’s home and fell asleep on that stranger’s couch. And then got shot to death.

Police said Christy Cramer found Smith passed out on her couch early Thursday. Cramer fled the house and got her husband, Keith Cramer, who happened to be at the same place where Smith and Lyons had been drinking.

Cramer called the cops twice. Once to say there’s a drunk stranger passed out on my couch and again to say I just shot the drunk stranger passed out on my couch with a high-powered hunting rifle.

Cramer’s lawyer says poor Michael Shane Smith woke up and threatened Cramer. Smith’s friends say he was a harmless, gentle drunk who fell asleep in the wrong place.

Which reminds me of the story of Daley Bailey, a professional gambler from a small town in Eastern Washington. I knew Daley’s brother (a country musician and carpenter living in Seattle), who used to tell this story:

Years and years ago, Daley was staying with the parents in Wenatchee for awhile. One night, he went out, got drunk, came home late, and found the door locked. “Shit,” Daley thought, “my folks changed the locks on me.” So he kicked in the door and passed out on the couch.

The next morning Daley woke up, rubbed his eyes, looked around, and realized he was in the neighbors’ house.

“The only reason he didn’t get shot,” Daley’s brother used to say, “is because the neighbors were on vacation.”

Poor Michael Shane Smith.

RSS icon Comments


Hard as I try, I can't pull together a lot of sympathy for someone who gets so drunk they can't identify their own home, and worse, apparently doesn't have any friends watching out for him. I get that you wanna have a good time, but is that level of intoxicated really that necessary?

Admittedly, I have a strong bias... I woke up one night to find a strange man in bed with me. He'd not only broken through my locked front door, he'd also broken through my own bedroom's door. He was fortunate to get only a few elbows to the ribcage and nose until my roommates heard me screaming.

Posted by Marty | June 25, 2008 12:45 PM

I had a roommate in college who did this TWICE. Once he passed out on a neighbor's couch, only to be awoken the next morning by the police; The other time I got a call from a random stranger to come get him, after he walked into her apartment blind drunk and unable to tell her where he lived.

Good Times...

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | June 25, 2008 12:46 PM

If we properly enforced the Second Amendment, your militia commander wouldn't let you take your gun home if you were going to be drinking, and they'd kick you out of the militia if you went and got drunk anyway.

Of course, self-styled "responsible gun owners" would have a fit if you told them they had to drop their guns off at the armory before they went out and got wasted. They think it's their right to get drunk and shoot other drunks.

Posted by elenchos | June 25, 2008 12:56 PM

I've also had a college roommate who did a similar thing. Got wasted, broke into someone's house, fell asleep on the couch. Woke up and realized what he did. Came home and didn't tell anyone what had happened, until the cops called our house. He had forgotten his wallet. dumbass.

Posted by sars | June 25, 2008 12:57 PM

whens the last time a pothead did this?

Posted by max solomon | June 25, 2008 1:01 PM

When I lived with my now ex-bf, his (claimed he was recovering) alcoholic brother moved in with us for a few months. One night he came home drunk to find his key didn’t work in the lock and broke a window trying to get in. He was on the wrong block. The woman who lived there was understandably terrified and called the police. He’s fortunate her large dog didn’t rip his throat out. When the police arrived he was stumbling around the front yard in a black stocking hat, black coat, black shirt, black pants, and black shoes – the very picture of a cat burglar. He refused the officers’ order to kneel on the ground with his hands behind his head and so they tackled him. Instead of taking him to jail, they brought him home to us. He was covered in dirt from being pinned to the ground, belligerent and cursing the officers, and yet they still released him into our custody. Lucky me!

Posted by ay1ene | June 25, 2008 1:06 PM

@5 - The pothead would get permission before crashing on the couch.

Which of course leads to,
"How do you know a pothead has been crashing on your couch?"
"I don't know. How?"
"He's still there."

Zing! Thank you very much. You've been great.

Posted by Mahtli69 | June 25, 2008 1:16 PM

So I guess, in Eastern Washgington, an action like Daley's just is assumed to end in someone getting shot?

Posted by harold | June 25, 2008 1:27 PM

"daley bailey". chortle.

Posted by adrian | June 25, 2008 1:30 PM

I did this once. Got drunk at the Ballroom (in fremont), went to walk myself the 8 blocks home, got 7 blocks, figured it was close enough, found a house whose door was unlocked, and fell asleep on the couch. I was found in the morning by the kindest pair of Fremont hippies and their 4 year old daughter, who kindly woke me up and told me that i'd better leave. After stumbling around outside for 15 minutes (I had somehow misplaced my keys, cell phone and left shoe), I went back and knocked on their door... They let me in, gave me coffee, and let me use their phone to call a locksmith to get into my house.

I had lived in Fremont for about a month. I often joked about how lucky I was that i hadn't been awoken by a gunshot wound, or at the very least, by a police officer.

Posted by Colin | June 25, 2008 1:47 PM

my brother blacked out after drinking in seattle and woke up in the woods near medina.

as he described it:
"i slowly started waking up and i thought, 'jeeze, it's cold, where's my blanket?'"

he opened his eyes and realized he was huddled up next to a log, clutching some loose evergreen branches.

that was weird.

also, @1, "is that level of intoxicated really that necessary?" of COURSE it's not necessary, but for anyone who has ever gotten blacked out drunk after a bad day/week/month/year it's hard not to think, "that poor son of a bitch."

Posted by sympathy | June 25, 2008 1:48 PM

Poor Michael Shane Smith.

Poor Keith Cramer.

Posted by umvue | June 25, 2008 1:58 PM

Uh, okay, so what is going to happen to the guy who shot him? Is this legitimate since he was trespassing? Or not? The article doesn't say anything about it. I guess it depends on whether he woke up and did anything threatening, but the article doesn't say whether that's the case.

Also, dude, if your friend is that drunk and is staying with you in a strange town, make sure he gets home okay. Sheesh.

Posted by Julie | June 25, 2008 2:18 PM

A friend of mine did this after the first night of living in a new place. He walked into the neighbor's house and passed out drunk on the couch. No one saw him until the next morning and he talked his way out of it, luckily...

Still though, looks to me that unfortunately, that guy got himself shot. It's going to be up to the courts to decide if it was justified since we really don't know what happened.

Posted by Dougsf | June 25, 2008 3:06 PM

We wouldn't let a little personal responsibility get in the way of righteous indignation right?

@1 has it nailed.

Don't worry Elenchos... the 2nd Amendment will be properly clarified tomorrow when the Heller decision comes out.

You can then find some other silly "excuse" other than the Militia fuzziness to explain away your misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment. The Court is being predicted to rule that it is an unalienable individual right, and quite likely to take it even further that strict scrutiny will be required for any future "reasonable" gun restrictions.

The anti 2nd Amendment wackos (including the idiot DC Police Chief who "willingly" gave up her sidearm to enter the Supreme Court) really fucked up by trying to contest that definintion given the current seating of the Court.

I'll be popping a cork of a nice bottle of whiskey come lunchtime tomorrow.

Posted by Reality Check | June 25, 2008 3:13 PM

@ 13 the answer is it depends on several factors...

This essentially comes down to Oregon's current interpretation of the Castle doctrine.

So as of right now, the Castle Doctrine is the law of the land in 20 out of 50 states. This issue must be on the agenda in Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, California, New York… hell, all of the flyover states and any of the coastal states with a significant crime rate where people might want to have the right to shoot back without asking questions first. The issue is in play in enough places to win a Presidential election.

A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal concept derived from English Common Law, which designates one's place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one's car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack. It then goes on to give a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend that place (his/her "castle"), and/or any other innocent persons legally inside it, from violent attack or an intrusion which may lead to violent attack. In a legal context, therefore, use of deadly force which actually results in death may be defended as justifiable homicide under the Castle Doctrine.

Each state differs with respect to the specific instances in which the Castle Doctrine can be invoked, and what degree of retreat or non-deadly resistance (if any) is required before deadly force can be used.

In general, one (sometimes more) of a variety of conditions must be met before a person can legally use the Castle Doctrine:

1. An intruder must be making (or have made) an attempt to forcibly enter a premises uninvited

2. The intruder must be acting illegally -- e.g. the Castle Doctrine does not give the right to shoot officers of the law acting in the course of their legal duties

3. The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe that the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm, or death, upon an occupant of the home

4. The occupant(s) of the home must reasonably believe that the intruder intends to commit some other felony, such as arson or burglary

5. The occupant(s) of the home must not have provoked or instigated an intrusion, or provoked or instigated an intruder to threaten or use deadly force.

In this case, #4 and #5 will play heavily into weather there will be any charges against the homeowner.

The validity of his insinuation that the man awoke and threatened his family will be the crux of that decision, as there will need to be corraborating evidence to that fact.

Thankfully, a persons home should never have to be a place where someone needs fear from crime.

When proper Castle laws are in effect, they create a presumption of innocence for people who use deadly force whenever they are threatened with violence in their home, car, or place of business and also provide civil immunity from possible lawsuits arising from the use of force in these contexts.

Oregon enacted the castle doctrine on Sept 1, 2007. HB3115 ( is the reference.

Posted by Reality Check | June 25, 2008 3:30 PM


You seem to think I'm required to change what I believe based on what the courts say. Why should I? Especially since, as you point out, the court is packed with extremists right now.

People are expected to obey the law as it is understood, but we are still free to have our own ideas, and to speak them. And this conservative wingnut court won't last forever. Some day the death penalty will be abolished, and some day guns will be properly regulated.

Posted by elenchos | June 25, 2008 4:32 PM

#17 - Using a gun to defend your home hardly falls into conservative wingnut territory. To be honest, nothing in the language of the Castle Doctrine offends my pinko lefty sensibilities.

Posted by Dougsf | June 25, 2008 4:49 PM

Call it "defending your home" if that makes it seem cool, but a drunk shot another drunk. It happens thousands of times a year, and this silly belief in the need for everyone to be armed is to blame.

Posted by elenchos | June 25, 2008 4:53 PM

I don't think it's cool at all, it's a shame for everyone involved. Oddly enough, I was just in Roseburg last weekend, and it's exactly the kind of town you might want to own a gun in (rural, probably one officer per 20 miles or so, and on the meth corridor). Sutherlan, even moreso.

For the record, I think if they shot the man while he was sleeping, or leaving, or acting non-aggressively, it's despicable and that is clearly outside the letter of the law.

Posted by Dougsf | June 25, 2008 5:08 PM

If you need a gun so badly to live there, then join the national guard and obey a strict set of rules. If you're too screwed up to qualify, then you shouldn't have a gun. Works for me.

I suspect that towns like Roseburg justify half-assing their law enforcement because the town is full of armed drunks. The solution to that mess is probably not letting the drunk goofballs keep their guns.

Posted by elenchos | June 25, 2008 5:15 PM

That reminds me of this guy I knew who jumped out a window onto a bus and broke his foot all up and had to have a cadavers bone implanted....

Posted by SpaceyGacey | June 25, 2008 5:31 PM

as usual, "reality check" you are an asshole.

Posted by ellarosa | June 25, 2008 7:13 PM

@23 Why is he an asshole? Did he get out of line somehow? I'm confused.

Posted by Rotten666 | June 25, 2008 7:50 PM

@ 24 Don't look for a profound answer from ellarosa. The simple answer is that I must be an asshole because I speak facts and realities. Certain political types here can't stand my point of view, so if they can't attack the message, they resort to juvenile attempts to attack the messenger.

Those kinds of flames have come to be an expected tactic of some here.

You just learn not to feed the trolls.

The truth hurts...

Posted by Reality Check | June 26, 2008 12:38 AM

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