A Texas father who beat a man to death with his bare hands after catching him sexually assaulting his five-year-old daughter should not face criminal charges, a grand jury has ruled.
Prosecutors said at a press conference Tuesday that the jury determined that there was ample evidence that it was a justifiable homicide.
They played a tape of the distraught father's desperate 911 call as he tried to save the man's life after realizing what he'd done.
"I need an ambulance. This guy was raping my daughter and I beat him up and I don't know... I don't know what to do," he sobs into the phone, so overcome with emotion that he can't provide directions to his father's ranch.
"I need help. This guy is dying on me... oh my God... I'm going to try to load him up on the truck and take him to the hospital."
Lavaca County District Attorney Heather McMinn explained that under Texas law deadly force is both "authorized and justified" in order to stop a sexual assault.
"The five-year-old victim had sustained some physical injuries that were... consistent with all of the witness statements," she told reporters.
The father's attorney said the family remains in turmoil.
"He's a peaceable soul and he had no intention to kill anybody on that day, but he has to live with that," V'Anne Huser said.
The family has no interest in speaking to the press and asked for privacy, she added.
"You can only imagine in the last week we have been dealing with a lot of emotions, trying to help a young child come to grips with the fact that bad things happen to little children by bad people."
The father, 23, was alerted to the assault by a person on the ranch who saw Jesus Mora Flores, 47, carrying the girl to a horse barn.
The father told police he ran towards his screaming daughter and began beating Flores with his fists when he saw the ranch hand on top of the little girl with his trousers and underwear pulled down.
Residents of the nearby town of Shiner applauded the decision.
"I think it's great, they should have given him a medal for what he did, defending his daughter," Leroy Wagner, 79, told the San Antonio Express News. "Who wouldn't have done that?"
Victor Casper, 65, a retired county worker, said, "If it was my kids, I would have done the same thing. I would have defended them, too."