Bullet Proof

The D.A.'s office gets under the skin of an accused robber

Also questioning the propriety of the maneuver is lawyer James Leitner, who was appointed by a judge to represent McCloud -- two days after the bullet was removed.

"They would have tried this case without the bullet," says Leitner. "They want to establish law on this one, and next time it may be major surgery."

Leitner also is bothered by the state's post-surgery finding that the markings on the bullet extracted from McCloud's trapezius muscle match markings made by the homeowner's handgun.

"There's a big difference," the lawyer says, "between God making unique fingerprints and man making one gun after another from the same lathe."

McCloud, whose wounds still require him to walk on crutches, is awaiting an October court hearing. Even if the surgically dislodged bullet winds up linking him to the July home invasion and he's found guilty, McCloud might consider himself lucky.

The robbery, in which the front door of the Carlisle Street house apparently was forced open, was the second break-in in a month at the same address. "Usually, when a home invasion like this happens," explains prosecutor Rizzo, "a citizen reacts by either moving or arming themselves big time."

The homeowner, who had to dodge gunfire himself during the robbery, must have chosen the second option. He thought several of his shots had found the robber that night, but he stopped firing when the pistol he had retrieved from his bedside table malfunctioned. He was going for his shotgun when the intruder left.

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