Mineral Rights And Stand Your Ground Clash | Miner Murdered


Houston, TX— The disagreement that led to the hot-blooded shooting death of Clyde T. Coburn, owner of the Pleasant Valley Mining Company, has morphed into what some call a blessing in disguise as the Texas legislature passed the Clyde T. Coburn Stand Your Underground law yesterday on a vote divided along party lines. Pundits expect Governor Rick Perry to sign the measure into law by the week’s end.

Coburn Mausoleum

Murdered mining company and mineral rights owner Clyde T. Coburn will be buried above ground in his family mausoleum.

“Ain’t nuthin’ gonna bring Clyde back,” said Coburn’s brother-in-law Charlie Dorgan, “but at least we’ll get some closure and, God willing, a tidy little settlement.” Millard Smyth, owner of the house that stands atop the land for which the Pleasant Valley Mining Company owns the mineral rights, gunned down Coburn, who was armed at the time with a 12-guage shotgun. Police said that weapon was not fired.

Apparently Coburn confronted Smyth on the porch of the latter’s home, apprising him of the mining company’s intention to commence a new drilling operation in his backyard, where Smyth has grown prize-winning zucchinis. Smyth, asserting he felt threatened, retreated into his home and later returned to the porch armed with an MA5B assault rifle. He then pumped twenty-nine rounds into Coburn’s chest and abdomen.

Although under the present Texas Stand Your Ground law, Smyth cannot be charged, relatives and friends of Mr. Coburn can take consolation in knowing that the new Stand Your Underground law will, in the future, totally protect mineral rights’ owners, permitting them, if feeling threatened, to shoot and kill without consequence anyone who simply owns the surface rights to the land in question.

“This is a victory for mineral rights owners everywhere,” said Tom Billings, who will take over for Coburn as CEO of the Pleasant Valley Mining Company. “Stand Your Ground is a good law. But Stand Your Underground is a better one. Pure and simple.”

Millard Smyth disagreed. “Truth is, I don’t give a rat’s you-know-what who owns the ground underneath mine. Anybody from that friggin’ mining company comes around and disturbs my zucchinis, there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

In the wake of what many see as two incompatible laws, the Houston police department is gearing up for more bloodshed. “I done feared it was going to shake out like this,” said police chief Melvin Metcalf. “I mean, when the time comes, which law are we supposed to enforce?”

On the presidential campaign trail in Indiana, where he is expected to win the uncontested May 8 primary, Mitt Romney had this to say: “I don’t follow mining very much. But I do know a lot of mining company owners.” He called Coburn’s death tragic and senseless and probably bad for business.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Coburn are still incomplete. But it is undoubtedly ironic that he will be buried in a mausoleum. Mr. Dorgan did not know whether or not the Coburn family owned the mineral rights beneath the aboveground structure.

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