Significance of the Dooley Decision

TP_328910_OROU_WifeIn September 2010, then 69-year-old Trevor Dooley shot and killed 41-year-old David James.  Dooley claimed that he shot James in self-defense. Two days later, Dooley was arrested and charged with manslaughter with a weapon, improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm, and open carrying of a weapon.

Dooley petitioned the court for immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute.  On May 11, 2012, Judge Ashley Moody denied Dooley’s petition for immunity.  The case proceeded to trial.

The situation started when Dooley, who resided across from a basketball and tennis court, saw a teen with a skateboard on the basketball court and yelled at him not to skateboard.  David James, who was on the court with his 8-year-old daughter shooting hoops, yelled back to Dooley asking where was the sign saying no skateboarding.  Dooley was washing his car and walked out of his driveway over to the basketball court.   Testifying that he saw no good by arguing,  Dooley turned to walk away when James grabbed him by the shoulders pulling him around.  The altercation then went to the ground and ended with Dooley shooting James in the heart.

Dooley, who is 5 feet 7 and weighs 160 pounds, told jurors he had to struggle with a man 28 years younger who was 6 feet one inch and 240 pounds.  Dooley testified that he had no choice other than to pull out his gun after James grabbed him by the throat.  Dooley testified that he felt that he was going to black out, and that James went for his gun and he believed James would have shot him.

At trial, James’ daughter was a witness for the defense.  She testified that Dooley did turn his back and was walking away when her dad rushed him.  Furthermore, she said she did not see Dooley’s gun until he took it out during the altercation; that her father was “on top” of Dooley and was trying to keep him down to answer his question, which was, where is the sign that says “No Skateboarding”?

The Dooley case decision is very significant in understanding the legislative intent of stand your ground law.  It is common to read  George Zimmerman’s supporters argue that stand your ground immunity applies when the person tries removing themselves and/or does not throw the first punch.    If that interpretation of the law is correct,  then James would be the aggressor and Dooley granted immunity from prosecution.

According to the court’s ruling in the immunity hearing, “…the evidence showed that Mr. James had not been threatening or aggressive in any way toward Defendant, although he did appear to be shocked, defensive, loud, upset and agitated.  It was not until Defendant reached for and pulled out his weapon – indicating an intent to escalate from an argument to violence – that Mr. James exerted and used physical force against Defendant.”

In other words, the court found that the victim had the right to use physical force because the defendant took a physical action that the victim perceived as a threat.   At trial, State prosecutors proved the same to the jury.

Dooley testified that he never showed his gun.   Witnesses said otherwise.  They testified that Dooley raised his shirt, revealing his gun, and then turned to walk away.   That action is why Dooley was charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and open carrying of a weapon.  It is also why the jury decided that James, once seeing the gun, had the right to try to disarm Dooley.

Furthermore, and most importantly, the jury decided that Dooley was the aggressor and it was a senseless killing; if not but for the fact that Dooley left his garage with a loaded gun and walked over to James, the altercation would not have happened and James would not have been killed.  Dooley was found guilty on all counts.

Dooley said that he is remorseful.  Each time he takes a shower and hears the drain, it reminds him of James’ death gurgle. On January 17, 2013, the judge hearing Dooley’s remorse, sentenced Trevor Dooley, now 71 years old,  to 8 years in prison and 10 years probation.  His sentencing for all counts run concurrent, with 3 days of jail credit.Dooley

WHY IS THE DECISION IN THE TREVOR DOOLEY CASE SIGNIFICANT IN THE CASE OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN?

After the jury found Dooley guilty, he gave a statement to the media, blaming racism for his prosecution. “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today?” he asked reporters.

 The jury in Dooley’s case consisted of multiracial men and women. Dooley’s focus was on losing the fight giving him the right to use deadly force, rather than his initiation of events leading up to the fight and the firing of his gun.

Although at trial it was established that James initiated the physical altercation, there would have been no physical altercation and no killing had Dooley not left his garage with a loaded gun. The jury decided by applying the facts and evidence to the law.  Let’s see if Judge Nelson, in deciding George Zimmerman’s petition for immunity, and the jury at his trial, will decide likewise.

Similarities and Comparisons

Trevor Dooley George Zimmerman
City, State Valrico, FL Sanford, FL
Community Twin Lakes Retreat at Twin Lakes
Age of Defendant at time of incident 69  28
Age of Victim at time of incident 41(interestingly, there is a 28 yr difference between James and Dooley, and Zimmerman was 28 yrs old when he killed Trayvon Martin 17
Race of Defendant Black White Latino
Race of Victim White Black
Defense Was assaulted by a younger, stronger man and was in fear for his life. Was assaulted by a teen and was in fear for his life.
Victim armed/unarmed Unarmed Unarmed
Cause of Death Gunshot to the heart Gunshot to the heart
Allegations: Victim attacked first (supported by witnesses) Victim attacked first (No witnesses)
Was being choked, could not breathe Was being smothered, could not breathe
Victim saw and went for gun Victim saw and went for gun
Fear that victim would get gun and shoot. Fear that victim would get gun and shoot.
Admitted Left garage and approached victim Left vehicle and followed victim
Tried to walk away (supported by witnesses) Shot victim while having victim’s wrist and arm restrained to prevent getting gun. (No witnesses)
Shot victim while victim was on top. (Supported by witness testimony) Witnesses vary as to who was on top.
Victim rushed him. Victim ran.
Similarities Was washing his car when he saw the skateboarder and yelled not to skateboard Was on his way to grocery shop when seeing Trayvon Martin.
Left his garage with a loaded gun to approach victim. Left his vehicle with a loaded gun to follow victim.

sources:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/trevor-dooley-faces-sentencing-for-manslaughter/1270967

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/stand-your-ground-claim-by-trevor-dooley-in-fatal-park-shooting-rejected/1230020

http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_hillsborough/stand-your-ground-defense-denied-for-trevor-dooley-in-2010-death-of-david-james-in-valrico

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/article1262347.ece

http://screen.yahoo.com/testimony-gunshot-residue-all-over-trevor-dooley-31132516.html

http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_hillsborough/stand-your-ground-defense-denied-for-trevor-dooley-in-2010-death-of-david-james-in-valrico#ixzz2IjOZEkc8

Posted on 01/23/2013, in Justice For Trayvon, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Wow, this account is a little different than the only other one I had read. I did read that Mr. Dooley was walking away when the deceased grabbed him. I knew he had left his ‘safe place’ with his gun and had it not been for him ‘starting’ the trouble, there would have been none.

    I read a story from the Tampa Bay Times where their research of 200 SYG cases showed that immunity was granted in 79% of cases when the deceased was a Black person.

    Thank you again for another extremely informative and insightful post!

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    • Hey Mindy!!! Good to see your fonts.

      I read a story from the Tampa Bay Times where their research of 200 SYG cases showed that immunity was granted in 79% of cases when the deceased was a Black person.

      Yes. To get a better view of those cases, we need to look at the race of the defendant and whether the parties knew each other before the killing. In Dooley’s case, the court laid a precedence on interpreting the law. Which, by the way, Dooley’s attorney did appeal the denial of immunity but the court’s decision was affirmed. After the jury found him guilty, he filed a Motion for Acquittal Not Withstanding the Jury Verdicts, and a Motion for Mistrial — both denied.

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  2. I think his daughter losing her father and that little girls voice weighed heavily irregardless of some of the facts. The similarity I see is a 17 year old kid nicknamed “Slim” is heard screaming in terror for his life.

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    • That’s a great point racerrodig! When BDLR said in court that the recording captured two voices, I shouted! The judge and jury will hear GZ’s voice, and it isn’t the one screaming out in pain, fear, and for help.

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  3. towerflower

    I still wonder, what, if any, cases were ever discussed in his criminal justice classes? If any of these past cases gave him “excuses” to use?

    One thing you left out was “days passed” before an arrest. Dooley was arrested 2 days later while Zimmerman 45.

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    • Hi Towerflower. Thanks for the comment. Since GZ mirrors the claims of John Orr, I suspect that the case was discussed; if not in his classes, then between him and Osterman.

      The post does mention that Dooley was arrested 2 days after killing James, but you’re correct — I didn’t include that GZ was not arrested until 45 days after he killed Trayvon. Even then, had he not called Corey’s office looking for protection, he might still be in hiding with a warrant for his arrest.

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      • towerflower

        Hi Xena, I wasn’t very clear about the arrest thing, I meant to say in the comparison chart.

        GZ is his own worst enemy, which is good for the State.

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        • Ahhh. I did leave that out. If I get time, I’ll see about editing to add it.

          You are correct — GZ is his own worst enemy, and his brother runs a very close second.

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  4. Very good case study Xena! The similarities are chilling. I can’t imagine Judge Nelson ruling in GZ’s favor considering the verdict in this case. I’m very hopeful now. 😀

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    • Hey JB!!! Good to see you! In the Dooley case, the jury applied the facts to the law. As I was putting it together, I found just as you have stated; that is,the similarities are chilling. As we become more familiar with the law and how self-defense cases are presented, it really does give us hope. For one thing, there is no need to entertain the theories and thugification of Trayvon that GZ’s supporters are barking.

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      • blushedbrown

        @Xena,

        I haven’t followed the Dooley case. But I do find your comparision chart and post chillling as well. You have put alot of time and effort in this post and I thank you for the teaching moment.

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  5. Hi Xena,
    You are so sharp! I’m sure this case will be play a huge part in the verdict. It’s very similiar.
    Since the race of the victim and the shooter are opposite of the Martin case, I think it makes it twice as important.
    Good catch.

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    • Hey JB!
      The Dooley case is truly interesting. Even the victim’s daughter testified that Dooley had turned to walk away when her dad grabbed him. Still, the jury stayed with the law and found that Dooley was the initial aggressor because he left his garage/driveway with a loaded gun and went to the basketball court where James was with his daughter.

      If not but for the fact that GZ got out of his truck to, and did follow Trayvon Martin, the two would not have come into physical contact. If the jury in GZ’s case finds according to the law, they will find him guilty as charged.

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  6. I think stand your ground law, like other laws, are made with the intent of giving most whites the authority of killing innocent minorities just because of their skin complexion.

      Brian

    ________________________________

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  7. I am lost. Doesn’t the fact that Dooley was denied SYG because he left the garage with a handgun, render the SYG law null and void? I have heard many defenders of Zimmerman give excuse after excuse for all of Zimmerman’s missteps and defended his right to kill the kid that was suppposedly beating the crap out of him EVEN IF Zimmerman was the aggressor. They argued that SYG was for people who feared for their lives and had no duty to back down from a fight… Dooley was pinned to the ground and was attacked by James. These facts are not in dispute whatsoever. I swear I feel like I have been transported to the 60’s during the Civil Rights Era. At most, Dooley should have been given a manslaughter convict, if that. (I say that assuming I have all the facts of the case).

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    • Hi nocamo33. Thanks for the comment. SYG law does not provide for people to pick fights and when losing, use deadly force. Dooley was found guilty of manslaughter. The jury found that Dooley was the aggressor because he left his garage/driveway with a loaded gun to confront David James who had mouthed off at him. James was the person who made physical contact with Dooley, but the jury found that Dooley was threatening to James, and James had the right to defend himself.

      There’s a phrase used in law; “If not but for the fact ….” In the Dooley case, if not but for the fact that Dooley left his garage/driveway and confronted James, the two would not have come into physical contact leading to James being shot and killed.

      That also applies in Zimmerman’s case. If not but for the fact that Zimmerman left his vehicle to follow Trayvon, the two would not have come into physical contact resulting in Trayvon being shot and killed.

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      • Aha. I have to work on not commenting unless I have read the whole article (as opposed to skimming key parts). Thanks for clarifying Dooley’s charges/conviction. It will be interesting to see how this whole thing with Zimmerman plays out. The concept of “If not but for” seems to not apply to Zimmerman, according to his worshipers. “If not but for” some well-known, celebrity journalists and politicians defending Zimmerman, his conviction would be certain on the basis of the irrefutable evidence against him.

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        • Nocamo33. Not to worry about skimming key parts. 🙂 Dooley was sentenced to 8 years and 10 years probation.

          Since when do Zimmerman “worshipers” familiarize themselves with courts and the law to argue on a fair playing field? They don’t. Anyone can defend the accused murderer and killer of Trayvon Martin, but at the end of the day, George has to face his own demons and answer to a court of law.

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      • Well said !

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        • Racerrodig. By now, prosecutors have gained experience in presenting the law to the jury, and facts that are applied to the law. SYG or even traditional self-defense does not provide for people to pick fights and then use deadly force even if they have a can of whip-ass opened on them. If they picked the fight or made physical contact possible while carrying a loaded gun, they are the aggressor, PERIOD.

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          • Again….Well said !! Yep, you do not get to get out of your truck, car, house, airplane, trailer house, shed, tent, or plywood shelter, pick any kind of fight, get the shit kicked out of you, or in this case “not” then kill the other person, cry like a baby and say “….he made me do it…”

            Noooooo Sirrrrrreeeeeee Bob !~!~!~!~!

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            • @racerrodig. GZ knows that too, which is why the day after he killed Trayvon, he lied about following him. What I find interesting about GZ following Trayvon is that the dispatcher was discerning enough to hear sounds conveying to him that GZ as physically moving fast. Had it not been for Sean discerning the sounds and asking GZ if he was following, we would not have that on tape. GZ is going to prison for life. It’s God’s plan.

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            • And our God is an Awesome God…..I know this for fact ……”,,,with Wisdom, Power and Love…”

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            • My son’s band finally found a lead singer…..and then some !! Maybe I can talk them into doing the song bb posted, one of my favorite poppy songs “I’ll be there” and rewrite is just slightly as a “Team Trayvon Warriors” theme.

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          • Maybe I can talk them into doing the song bb posted, one of my favorite poppy songs “I’ll be there” and rewrite is just slightly as a “Team Trayvon Warriors” theme.

            OOOOh Racer!!! That sounds wonderful!!

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            • Here’s a start…..Maybe a 2 part song…….Fogen’s woes in the verse and our solidarity in the chorus, like this……..correct me if you see different.

              So no one told Fogen it was gonna be this way
              His life’s a joke, he’s broke, SheLie’s love life’s D.O.A.
              It’s like he’s always stuck in second gear
              And it hasn’t been his day, his week, his month, or even his year, but

              We’ll be there for you
              (You’re on Team Trayvon too)
              We’ll be there for you
              (Stick with Team Trayvon too !)
              We’ll be there for you
              (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

              Fogen’s still in bed at ten no work begins at eight
              SheLie burned his breakfast, so things are not going great
              Your mother warned you there’d be days like these
              But she didn’t tell you when the world has brought you down to your knees and

              We’ll be there for you
              (You’re on Team Trayvon too)
              We’ll be there for you
              (Stick with Team Trayvon too !)
              We’ll be there for you
              (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

              Fogen could never know us
              Fogen could never see us
              Seems you’re the only one who knows what it’s like to be us
              Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
              Someone I’ll always laugh with
              Even at my worst, I’m best with you, Yeah!

              It’s like he’s always stuck in second gear
              And it hasn’t been his day, his week, his month, or even his year

              We’ll be there for you
              (You’re on Team Trayvon too)
              We’ll be there for you
              (Stick with Team Trayvon too !)
              We’ll be there for you
              (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

              We’ll be there for you
              (You’re on Team Trayvon too)
              We’ll be there for you
              (Stick with Team Trayvon too !)
              We’ll be there for you
              (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

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  8. blushedbrown

    Good Morning Everyone!

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  9. To Xena
    thank you for this post. As you may know Trevor Dooley is out on bail appealing his manslaughter conviction. From the moment I heard of this case,I’ve pointed out the racial double standard. Glad you laid out several similarities.

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