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Retired judge and his wife survive harrowing home invasion.

76-year-old retired judge James Green

Retired judge and his wife survive harrowing home invasion.

CREATED Feb 15, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- 76-year-old James Green and his wife, Edith, thought they would never see each other again. Each thought the other was killed during a home invasion in the Harold Bell Wright Estates -- near Speedway and Wilmot.

About 8:30 in the morning on January 17th, James Green walked out his front door to question a man he noticed raking leaves in his front yard. He had not hired a company for that service. When Green asked what he was doing, the seemingly nice young man man said he was unemployed and looking to make money doing yard work.

Happy to help a young man looking for a job, Green agreed on a price for the yardwork -- as well as the best place to start. He pointed to a large area at side of the house. As they walked in that direction, Green said he was "slugged hard on the side of the head" by someone hiding around the corner.

The punch didn't knock Green down or out, but he suddenly faced his worst fear -- a masked man ordered him back in the house -- at gunpoint. His 74-year-old wife, Edith, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, was inside. The masked man told Green to call his wife into the living room. When she entered, he told her to sit down in the recliner. She refused. But Green said he pleaded with her to listen to the intruders, "He's got a gun, so he's the boss now." She quickly sat down.

The two intruders handcuffed the couple with zip-ties and then demanded that Green open his safe. But Green knew there was a problem. He could only open the safe once a day and he had already opened it earlier that morning. He continued to explain to the masked man why he couldn't meet their demand. Meantime, Green realized that his zip-tie wasn't tight enough. "I was wriggling my hands -- getting it loose and I got my hand loose about the time I got back there," he said.

Trying to conceal that he broke free, Green continued to explain to the masked intruder that he couldn't open the safe. "(The masked man) said, when you watch what I'm going to do with your wife, you're going to wish you opened the safe. And I let him have it just as hard as I could hit him." Because he believed he had nothing to lose. "I knew I was going to die. He had a mask. He didn't want to be seen. The other guy I had seen so I could identify him. I figured I'm dead meat anyway, so my only desire was to save (his wife)."

An all-out brawl ensued between the three men. Green said the intruders slammed his head into the wall and pummeled him in the face and back, but he used his former military training to unleash a barrage of punches that kept the masked man from firing his weapon.

His wife watched -- in horror -- from the other room. "She thinks they're beating me to death," said Green.

After a few minutes, the masked man took his last swipe with the butt of his gun and Green blacked out. Meantime, his wife ran out the door -- screaming for help. She said, "I just did what had to be done," which was to save her husband because he "wanted to save me."

The two intruders heard the screams and fled. Police showed up within minutes.  Both Green and his wife didn't think the other had survived. "It was wonderful when we saw each other again."

Green suffered broken bones on his face. His wife, Edith, was not hurt. Green said he saw two men trying to break into his home  just a day before the home invasion so he suspects they were the same men. Police have no leads in the case. The intruders did leave some items behind -- broken sunglasses worn by the masked man and a knife.