Trevor Dooley’s Conviction and Sentence Vacated. He Gets New Trial

florida_stand_your_ground_lawWhen I heard that Trayvon Martin was killed, and that his killer was claiming Florida’s stand your ground defense, that law peeked my interest.  I had not heard of stand your ground and wanted to know of other cases in Florida where the defendant claimed that defense.

Among the cases I found was that of Trevor Dooley.  On January 23, 2013, I wrote an article on the significance of the Dooley decision.  It is a Florida case where the defendant claimed self-defense.

I expected that Dooley would prevail on his claim of stand your ground because of testimony that Dooley retreated when David James came up behind him, knocking him to the ground.  Dooley shot and killed David James.

At trial, prosecutors argued that Dooley could not claim that he stood his ground because he broke the law by showing his gun to the victim, thereby committing the crime of unlawful exhibition of a weapon.

In November 2012, Dooley was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 years in prison.  He remained free on bond until his first appeal was denied and on November 2014, Dooley began serving his prison time.

After the verdict in Dooley’s case, and when I wrote the first article about the case, it was my position that the jury applied the facts to Florida law from the beginning, finding that if not but for the fact that Trevor Dooley left his garage with a loaded gun and approached David James for mouthing off at him, the two would not have come into physical contact.  If Dooley was truly the initial aggressor, then the jury should find the same in George Zimmerman’s case.

In George Zimmerman’s case however, Judge Debra Nelson omitted the part of initial aggressor from the jury’s instructions because the defense asked her to.


Trevor Dooley

Tampa Bay Times reports that now, Trevor Dooley gets a new trial because the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the wording in the jury instructions on the justifiable use of deadly force was “erroneous.”

The 2nd District Court of Appeal also found that the state was wrong — that “stand your ground” doesn’t depend on whether or not a person is “engaged in unlawful activity.”

Dooley, who is now 73-years old, is being returned to Hillsborough County and his lawyer said he will be eligible to be freed on bond pending the new trial.

This is Dooley’s second appeal.  On his first appeal in 2014, the court said that the attorney handling that appeal should have raised the error in the jury instructions about self-defense.  The jury’s instructions included;

“If the defendant was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.”

Florida appeared to be working out its understanding of stand your ground law, and made some changes between 2010 and 2012. The Court of Appeal’s decision states;

“Dooley contends that the instruction and the State’s argument were erroneous because at the time of the offense in 2010 and at the time of trial in 2012, sections 776.032(1) and 776.012, Florida Statutes (2010), did not condition stand your ground immunity on whether the defendant was engaged in unlawful activity. Moreover, on April 10, 2013, months before appellate counsel filed the initial brief on December 16, 2013, this court held that sections 776.032(1) and 776.012(1) permit a person engaged in unlawful activity to claim stand your ground immunity. Little v. State, 111 So. 3d 214, 221-22 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (holding that Little’s status as a felon in illegal possession of a firearm did not preclude his claim of immunity under section 776.012(1)). Dooley argues that the erroneous instruction negated his defense and if this issue had been brought to this court’s attention, the result of his appeal would have been different.”

Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed Dooley’s manslaughter conviction and his sentence, and remanded the case for a new trial.

Posted on 06/13/2016, in Cases, Conceal Carry & SYG, Trial Videos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Mr. Militant Negro

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember this! I am so glad he is getting a 2nd chance to appeal this unjust conviction!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It could not have been easy testifying about her father being killed but she told the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mindyme,
      Indeed. Years ago, I watched the video of her testimony. She told the truth, even answering why her dad rushed Dooley. She said it’s because he wanted an answer to his question. Somehow, the prosecution turned that around and said it was because Dooley lifted his shirt showing his gun, and James wanted to take the gun away.

      I’m sorry she lost her dad, and may he rest in peace. From the time I first read about the case, it was my impression that because Dooley was retreating when James attacked him, that Dooley should have been given stand your ground immunity. I don’t like that law, but it is what it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We have a case close by where a man shot another man 5 times following a road rage report.

        Man 1 leaves the highway, the situation and is followed by Man 2 to a gas station.

        Man 2 pulls in and hits the car Man 1 is sitting in with his car. Man 2 gets out of his car yelling threats so Man 1 gets out of his car, pulls out a gun and shoots Man 2. It’s all on video.

        Doesn’t that sound like a clear case of Stand Your Ground?


        This happened in St. John’s County Florida 2 months ago. Man 1 is a man of color, a convicted felon who wasn’t supposed to have a gun. Man 2 is a sheriff deputy’s son.


      • I believe Dooley was trying to leave, to retreat. Absolutely he should have been granted immunity. The disparity in this and so many other SYG cases is glaring. How can people even pretend this isn’t happening?


        • Mindyme,
          The more I read about stand your ground cases in Florida, the more confusing it is. The trial coming up in the popcorn murder should be interesting because Reeves claims that he stood his ground.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. * incident, not report..



    I’m not so sure about this case. The witnesses did not support Mr. Dooley’s claims. There were 3, the teen skateboarder and a couple playing tennis who stopped when it started.


    • Towerflower,
      If I’m not mistaken, the witnesses testified that Dooley showed his gun. James’ daughter testified that Dooley was walking away when her dad rushed and attacked him. As it turns out on his appeal, it was actually the jury instructions about Dooley committing a crime by showing his gun that prevented him from using a stand your ground defense. The judges on appeal found that instruction was erroneous, so it was not whether Dooley was retreating or not.

      If the state should decide to re-try, and not being able to use the showing of the gun as an issue to prevent a claim of self-defense, then, the issue of retreating might actually acquit Dooley.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. chuquestaquenumber1

    I welcome this . Though I must say I am surprised that this happened. As people know I always held up this case as the case that showed a racial double standard in the application of SYG. For Dooley to be convicted of the same thing Zimmerman did was wrong and unjust. More importantly,if We were told Zimmerman started the conflict,but the moment Martin attacked him ,Zman had the right to use deadly force. Somehow,when Dooley started but ceased conflict(saying I don’t want to fight you ,with his hands in the air.)David James attacking him didn’t justify deadly force. Remember this was Trevor Dooley’s only problem with the law. Zimmerman to many to count.So we shall see where this goes.


    • Chuquest,
      I remember how naive I was, and how you rattled me to open my eyes and see how race did effect the jury’s decision. James’ widow is fighting against Dooley being free on bond pending re-trial because — because — (wait for it) — he is from another country. Yes, I heard that dog whistle.

      Yes — we shall see where this goes.

      Liked by 1 person

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