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Make My Day Shooter: 'I Did The Right Thing'

Written by Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)- A 17-year-old who was shot and killed after breaking into a northeast Denver home last May was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and opiates according to a CBS4 Investigation.

"I didn't know that," responded his mother, Cynthia Gonzales, when CBS4 showed her the toxicology report for her son, Marcus Duran.

It shows the teen tested positive for alcohol, opiates and THC- the active ingredient in marijuana- on May 24, 2010.

In the early morning hours, Duran and two other teens broke into a woman's home setting off her burglar alarm. In a terrifying call to 911, the woman told a police dispatcher she is home alone because her husband is out of town.

"I'm in my room and the door is locked," the woman said, as the burglar alarm blared in the background. "It sounded like someone got in through my window," she sobbed. "Please hurry- my husband's out of town."

Duran and his two teenage friends fled, but didn't go far. They decided to break into another nearby home and rob the homeowner. They chose Darrell Kutchin's two story home. It would be a fatal mistake for Duran.

Kutchin is a professional masseuse. He was asleep in his basement, but he kept a loaded gun nearby, tucked inside a sock.

"I heard this crash. It sounded like a freight train. I thought it was a car accident," Kutchin said of the sound of the three teens breaking down his front door and moving through his house. "It sounded like a herd of elephants, a lot of things above me."

Kutchin grabbed his loaded handgun- a Taurus Judge- so named because judges carry this type of weapon in their courtrooms for self- defense. The gun shoots .410 buckshot or .45 caliber bullets.

Gun at his side, Kutchin walked upstairs.

"I'm yelling 'Who's in my house? Who's in my house?' I was scared," said Kutchin.

Suddenly, the three teens came running down from the second floor. Marcus Duran was carrying a loaded pistol. As he neared the front door, about five feet away from Kutchin, Duran brandished the loaded gun and aimed it at the homeowner. Duran was still inside Kutchin's home.

"And I just reacted in a defensive stance and took a shot," said Kutchin.

The round missed its target. Kutchin said he could see Duran's pistol.

"I saw a gun pointed at me and I shot," said Kutchin.

The second round found its mark, hitting Duran in the head. The two other teens fled. Kutchin, who has first aid training, tried to administer medical assistance to Duran who had fallen on Kutchin's front stoop. But the teen was dead.

"There were some errors in judgment made on that night when the individuals entered my house. I'm not a vigilante," says Kutchin.

"I'm a law abiding homeowner that happens to be armed," said Kutchin, in his first interview about the shooting.

Asked if he would do the same thing again, Kutchin says he would.

The Denver District Attorney's office cleared Kutchin of any criminal wrongdoing, ruling his actions were justified under Colorado law.

But across town, Marcus Duran's mother, Cynthia Gonzales, is still questioning what happened that night.

"I don't understand why he (Kutchin) couldn't have done a warning shot or shot him in his leg. They didn't fire shots. They were scared and running out when it happened," said Gonzales.

Darrell Kutchin said there was no time for warning shots or shooting to wound.

"I saw a gun pointed at me and I shot, no time to think about shooting him in the leg. And if you fire a warning shot, you are putting your neighbors in harm's way," said Kutchin.

Besides said Kutchin, in the time it would take to fire a warning shot, he believes Duran could have shot and killed him.

"My Godson did wrong, but he didn't deserve to die," said Phyllis Chavez, Duran's godmother.

"I don't think it was fair the way he(Kutchin) shot freely. Do it in the air. Why was he aiming at them if they are running away? That's the part I don't understand," said Chavez.

"It happened so quickly it was reactive, instinct," said Kutchin.

He said there was no time to ponder options or deliberate.

"My life was in harm's way. There's no doubt in my mind if I wasn't in the presence of mind to defend myself I wouldn't be here today," said Kutchin.

Since his death, Duran's mother and godmother have both received tattoos as reminders of the teenager they loved. His mother wears a heart shaped pendant around her neck. Inside are some of Marcus Duran's ashes.
Kutchin said he is slowly healing from what happened.

"The fact that someone chose to lose their life in my house, in my surroundings with actions that I reacted to, that's hard, mentally. Someone tried to make me a victim of something but I choose to be a victor. And by choosing to be a victor, I'm going to get healthy," said Kutchin.

Kutchin said beyond the anguish over what happened, he has spent $5,000 on attorneys fees, another $1,000 on his insurance deductible and countless hours dealing with police, prosecutors and court personnel.

As part of the healing, he gave one of the teenage offenders several self-help books in an attempt to help the young man choose the correct path. One of the books was '"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. The other was Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich."

Both of the teens who escaped that night are behind bars, in connection with the two break ins last May.

Kutchin said his heart goes out to the family of Marcus Duran. But he says he owes no apologies.

"I did the right thing. He was an individual who made an error in judgment that was very costly. It was an error in judgment that he chose to end his life," said Kutchin.

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