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December 12, 2008 -- Drug War Chronicle (US)

Woman Charged With Killing FBI Agent in Drug Raid

Will Argue She Thought She Was Defending Her Home from Intruders

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive


An Ohio woman who shot and killed an FBI agent during a pre-dawn no-knock drug raid at her family home in Indiana Township, Pennsylvania, on November 19 now faces federal homicide and weapons charges. When police serving an arrest warrant for her husband broke into Christine Korbe's home at 6:00am, she fired one shot from a .38 caliber pistol from the top of a second-floor stair case, striking and killing Special Agent Sam Hicks. She was arrested moments later as she called 911 to report a home invasion.

The resort to home invasion-style drug raids by law enforcement has resulted in dozens of deaths of suspects or others present in recent years. Police officers involved in killings in those drug raids typically walk free. But when homeowners targeted -- rightly or wrongly -- in no-knock drug raids kill police claiming they thought they were criminal intruders, they don't typically walk free.

In one notorious case, that of Corey Maye, a Louisiana man whose home was mistakenly hit in a drug raid is now serving a life sentence for murder for shooting and killing an intruding officer. In another, as yet unresolved case, Virginia resident Ryan Frederick faces murder charges in the death of an intruding officer in a raid that now appears to have been without any legitimate basis.

Robert Korbe was to be arrested as part of a round-up of drug suspects in the Pittsburgh area. He was one of 35 people charged in a 27-count indictment charging them with conspiring to traffic in powder and crack cocaine from October 2007 through September 2008. He was arrested in the basement of the family home, which he shared with his wife and two young daughters, as he allegedly sought to destroy evidence.

Christina Korbe made her first federal court appearance Monday before Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell, where she was arraigned on second-degree murder and several firearms charges. A bail hearing is set for next Monday.

"She's totally distraught," defense attorney John Elash told the Associated Press. "All she cares about and all she mentions is she wants to be home with her children. Can't imagine that she won't be home for Christmas."

Elash said that while his client is "extremely remorseful," she will argue that she acted in what she thought was self-defense. "I don't believe my client's guilty of any crime. I think the evidence will show that," Elash said. "It's obviously a self-defense or a defense of others, and the others that she's defending are a 5- and 10-year old that were with her when she was on 911, making the call to the police that somebody had broken into her house."

Law enforcement affidavits filed with the court claim that FBI agents shouted "police" and warned they were serving a warrant before breaking down the door to the Korbe's home as the family slept. According to those affidavits, Robert Korbe said he heard the agents and knew a raid was happening.

"Was this, something, everybody's yelling at one time, so that nobody could understand what's being said?" Elash said. "Could it have been heard by somebody that was asleep or just woken in an upstairs bedroom in a large home? If, in fact, she did hear it was a police officer or an FBI agent, why would she fire one shot at one of them and not continue to fire?" he asked.

"She thought she was being attacked, thought that she had to defend her children," Elash said. "That is what was going through her mind. Only pulled that trigger for one reason, because she thought she was going to get killed or that her children were going to get killed or seriously injured."

Elash isn't alone in sticking up for his client. Neighborhood residents have begun circulating a petition asserting her innocence and holding a collection for the family's children.

"I honestly believe that she couldn't possibly have known that it was a cop," friend Angie McCarrison said. "I think she heard glass break, and she thought, 'Oh my God, my kids,' and that was the end of that."

However Christina Korbe's case ends up, FBI Agent Hicks is dead, a victim as much of overly aggressive law enforcement practices as the bullet that ended his life.

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