We followed the hearing, and now the judge has entered her decision. Today, March 10, 2017, Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Susan Barthle denied Curtis Reeves’ motion to apply Florida’s “Stand your Ground” law to the case. Reeves now faces trial on second degree murder charges for killing Chad Oulson to death in a movie theater over text messaging. A trial date has not yet been set.
Here’s the ruling: Read the rest of this entry
Hat tip to Yahtzeebutterfly for keeping up with this case.
Florida’s controversial stand your ground law came upfront when 17-year old, unarmed Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. The law allows people to use deadly force when they fear death or great bodily harm. Stand your ground, if granted, gives the defendant immunity from being placed on trial for the results of using deadly force. If the person who used deadly force was the initiator, they might not qualify for immunity under stand your ground.
That is part of the controversy with stand your ground law. It depends on perception, and when the person is dead, they cannot testify of their perception.
You might have heard of the “popcorn murder.” It is the Reeves’ case. In January 2014, 71-year old Curtis Reeves shot Chad Oulson (43) to death in a movie theater over texting. Reeves also wounded Oulson’s wife. Reeves is charged with second degree murder and he claims self-defense, alleging that Chad hit him with something so hard that it knocked his glasses off his face. Read the rest of this entry
Stand Your Ground should be titled “Shoot first and claim self-defense later.”
SB656, a bill designed to change Missouri’s laws on self-defense laws, and make Missouri the first state since the Trayvon Martin incident to pass a stand your ground law, was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon today (June 27). After sailing through the state’s Senate and the House, the bill had been awaiting approval or veto by Nixon since May 13.
Nixon, a Democrat, faced enormous pressure from the Republican-led Missouri legislature to enact the law. The bill has been widely considered “veto-proof”; however, a bill which faces opposition by the Governor after passing through the legislature can be challenged with a veto override in the next legislative session, and still become law in the future.
Missouri’s current self-defense laws state that only the property owner or someone leasing it are allowed to use deadly force against an intruder.
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When 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.
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; Read the rest of this entry
Wait a minute! I thought that stand your ground hearings are decided by judges; not juries. If Reeves’ defense attorneys sincerely believe they can prevail in a SYG immunity hearing, why are they concerned with tainting the jury pool? Another thought is that case documents are not free to the public. It is generally the media who obtains documents filed in the case and they only pay for documents that have significance and not depositions.
Attorneys for the former cop charged with killing a man & shooting the man’s wife in what is called the “popcorn shooting” have filed a motion to stop public access to court records as a stand your ground hearing approaches. They claim that media coverage leading up to the trial may prejudice prospective jurors.
Retired Tampa Police Department Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73 years-old, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree battery in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding of Oulson’s wife, Nicole. The incident happened inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014 during an argument.
Reeves is claiming self-defense under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying he fired on Oulson after the younger man threw an “unknown object” at him, which turned out to be a box of popcorn, and presumably a cell phone. Circuit Court Judge Susan L…
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Mindyme62 posted about in open discussion in December 2014 about a stand your ground case. That’s more than a year ago, so I wanted to follow-up. In November 2015, we got a verdict, for the second time.
In 2010, Raul Rodriguez went to his neighbor’s house, taking his video recorder, cellphone, and gun with him. The neighbor was having a birthday party. Rodriguez thought that the music was too loud. Kelly Danaher, then 36-years old and a teacher, Kelly’s dad and other men argued with Rodriguez over the volume of the music. Rodriguez was filming when he said “I am in fear for my life” and shot, fatally wounding Kelly.
In 2012, Raul Rodriguez, 49, of Harris County, Texas, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Rodriguez appealed and Houston’s First Court of Appeals said the jury’s instructions on the law on self-defense was so confusing that Rodriguez did not get a fair trial.
In 2015, Rodriguez went back to trial. On November 20, 2015, jurors deliberated about 3 hours before siding with prosecutors that Rodriguez provoked the situation.
“This case is about provocation, pure and simple. The law doesn’t allow you to create a situation and then claim self-defense.” Prosecutor Kelli Johnson stated in closing arguments.
On February 26, 2012, a 17-year old-young boy was visiting his father in Sanford, Florida. It was a rainy evening. He went to a convenience store for candy and juice. On his way back, a neighborhood watchman alleged that he was on his way to Target to get groceries when he saw a suspicious teen. He followed the teen in his truck, then on foot. Trayvon Martin was shot in the heart with a hollow point bullet by George Zimmerman.
What happened in this nation as a consequence of George Zimmerman’s actions exposed the good, the bad, and the ugly. Trayvon’s life, death, and legacy, has motivated many people of all races and from all walks of life to come together for the good, including advocating for changes to stand your ground law and gun control.
We shall not forget.
In support for justice for Trayvon, LLMPapa produced videos during Zimmerman’s pending trial. In the following, he addresses where a journalist wanted to interview him and he gives his response.
After the fire, the fire still burns. The heart goes on.
Today, let’s celebrate Trayvon’s legacy.
Is loud music a tipping point for some people who may not like noise and have a gun? In a pre-Christmas shooting, a Missouri man is claiming self-defense after he reportedly put on a bullet-proof vest and murdered a neighbor who he thought was playing loud music no one else could hear.
Police in Maryland Heights, Missouri reported that 26 year-old James C. Blanton shot and killed 35 year-old Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang on the afternoon of December 13, when he knocked on Chang’s door complaining about “loud bass music”.
The 35-year-old Chang, a computer support specialist for an agrochemical company, was home watching a movie with his girlfriend at an apartment complex in the St. Louis suburb when Blanton knocked on the door complaining about loud music. There was an argument, then Blanton shot and killed Chang. He then sat outside Chang’s apartment and waited for police to arrive.
Blanton reportedly had a cooperative, justifying demeanor with police on the scene…
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Twenty-nine year old Lukace Kendle is going to prison. Friday, he was convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm and attempted murder in the June 1, 2012, shooting that killed Kijuan Byrd, 29, and paralyzed Michael Smathers, 38. Kendle faces life behind bars.
Smathers, who is paralyzed from Kendle’s bullets, testified at the trial that after barbecuing, he and Michael Smathers went to Club Rol-lexx to shoot pool. They played a few games and watched the Miami Heat game, then left the Club and went to Smather’s truck in the parking lot to smoke a joint. They had planned to go back inside the club.
Kendle showed up, parking in a tight spot next to Smathers’ truck. He got out of his car and put on an all-black uniform with a vest, baton, gloves, a knife, ammunition and his gun. The three men exchanged looks. Michael and Kijuan got out of Michael’s truck to go back into the club. Kendle opened fire. He continued firing bullets into Kijuan Byrd’s back even as he tried to crawl to safety under Michael’s truck.
The killing was captured on video surveillance. Read the rest of this entry
(Hat tip to Mindyme, our reporter on the ground in Florida)
In 2012, Marissa was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Last year around this time, Marissa Alexander was released on bond and was home for Thanksgiving. Her conviction was overturned on appeal because of an error in jury instructions. Her new trial was scheduled to begin on December 1, 2014.
Since that time, Marissa’s lawyer has zealously fought for her. The Appellate Court ordered a new trial. She petitioned the court for, and was denied, another stand your ground immunity hearing.
It’s a case that did not get much attention outside of the Florida. In or about April 2012 after George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder for killing unarmed 17-year old Trayvon Martin, I began researching stand your ground cases in Florida. Smithey’s case was one of several that caught my attention, along with the cases of John Orr, and Trevor Dooley.
On May 4, 2010, Smithey shot and killed Robert Cline III, her estranged husband. She claimed that he was raping her after they had consensual sex, and cut her throat and stabbed her in the side. Smithey claimed that she shot Robert once in the chest. The medical examiner however, said that there were two entrance wounds. Read the rest of this entry
It happened in Tampa, Florida.
Sam Mobley, 70, has won awards and was recognized by and worked closely with the Tampa police to help rid the neighborhood of drug dealers. This week, Mobley was arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing two warning shots at a convicted drug dealer. Mobley says that he thought the man had a gun in his hand. The man was not hit.
“I shot low to the ground,” said Mobley. “I didn’t shoot to kill.”
Tampa police arrested Mobley because they say Mobley was not on his property when firing the warning shots. Read the rest of this entry
Amazing — and disgusting.
You know something’s wrong when they resort to these measures…
After a Tampa Bay Times’ review of 200 cases that involved the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law found an “uneven application” and “shocking outcomes,” one Florida lawmaker is seeking to impede the media’s ability to scrutinize the law.
Earlier this month, state Rep. Matt Gaetz(R-Fort Walton Beach) filed an amendment that would “severely limit access to court records in the self-defense cases,” the Times’ Michael van Sickler reports.
The amendment would allow those found innocent in a Stand Your Ground case to“apply for a certificate of eligibility to expunge the associated criminal history record.”
Gaetz said his amendment was unrelated to the Times’ Stand Your Ground investigation, the Associated Press reports. “The point is to ensure that someone who appropriately uses a Stand Your Ground defense doesn’t have their life ruined by the use…
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It’s interesting that Angela Corey has stated that people don’t know all the facts in Marissa Alexander’s case. Regardless, the sentencing is outrageous. IMHO, Corey is planning to seek three sentences for Alexander to form a basis for requesting the same for Michael Dunn’s three 2nd degree attempted murder convictions. The difference however, as I see it, is that while Dunn was attempting to kill, he did in fact actually kill Jordan Davis in the process. As we watch this play out in Florida, it is actually impugning America’s justice system.
Clearly, the process needs to be re-examined…
Past studies have found that the notorious Stand Your Ground laws that authorize deadly force in self-defense exacerbate racial disparities. Among all cases, the Urban Institute has found that white-on-black homicides are 354 percent more likely to be found justified than white-on-white homicides in states with Stand Your Ground laws.
As Marissa Alexander is facing 60 years in prison in a case in which she unsuccessfully invoked the defense for firing a warning shot during a dispute with her abusive boyfriend, MSNBC looked at racial disparities among women, albeit those who, unlike Alexander, purportedly killed a man in self-defense. While white women with black victims were found justified 13.5 percent of the time, blacks who kill whites are found justified just 2.9 percent of the time, and even whites who kill whites are found justified…
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On November 30, 2013, End Stand Your Ground blogged on the case of Ronald Westbrook. We re-blogged it here.
72-year-old Ronald Westbrook suffered with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. He wandered away from his home and was shot four times and killed after ringing the doorbell and turning a doorknob at a home in Georgia.
Think Progress now reports that Joe Hendrix, who killed Westbrook, will not be charged. Walker County, GA District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin explained his decision saying, “In interviews immediately after the shooting, Hendrix claimed he acted in self-defense. In Georgia, the prosecution bears the burden of disproving a self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt. After looking at the facts from Hendrix’ perspective, it would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hendrix did not reasonably act in self-defense.” Read the rest of this entry
Thanks for the info. Re-blogging to help get the word out.
Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network will be joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and Attorney Benjamin Crump as they lead a march through Tallahassee on March 10th calling for a repeal of “Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida.
Participants are asked to arrive by 9:00 a.m. for the march, which starts at 9:30 a.m. from the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., and ends at the State Capitol at 400 S. Monroe St.
A rally at the State Capitol will immediately follow the march.
Last week, Sharpton joined many others in decrying the verdict in the Michael Dunn trial. In a statement, Sharpton said, “The mistrial further sends a chilling effect to parents in the twenty-three states that have the stand your ground law or laws similar. It requires the civil rights community to head into Florida, which is now ground zero for…
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Seems that claiming fear under Stand Your Ground is the catch-all law used by those who kill.
A man serving a life sentencefor killing two other men outside a Florida strip club in 2011, then claimed stand your ground immunity, was killed in prison during a fight with another inmate.
Justin Campos, 28, was killed on October 1st during an incident with another inmate at Madison Correctional Institute, near Tallahassee. The Florida Department of Corrections is investigating the incident.
After a night out ata strip club in Fort Myers, on January 19, 2011, three men leaving the club got into a battle of testosterone and cuss-filled insults with two other men in the parking lot. One of the three men, who were in a pickup truck, had enough.He got out of his truck with a weapon, and started to pistol-whip one of the other men, but the gun slipped out of his hand in the process.
Campos, one of the men who had been in…
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Attorney Phillips, thank you for a most informative and historical piece. I’m re-blogging to spread the word. It needs to be known and understood. Those of us advocating for change and/or appeal in Stand Your Ground laws need to understand this based on what you have written. My prayers to Jordan’s parents, and thanks to you for your good work and compassion.
My name is John Phillips. I have the honor to serve as the lawyer for the family of Jordan Davis, a teen killed by a grown man who took offense to his music, his skin color and his choice of words. Like too many others these days, Michael Dunn was empowered by the Stand Your Ground law. He fired 10 times, never called police and found comfort in believing he was on the right side of the tipped scales of justice for legal gun owners in this country.
Like my father, I am a lifelong Republican. He was from Monroeville, Alabama and my mother was from Mississippi. Like my father, I own guns. I grew up in the conservative south, even attending the University of Alabama. I worked for a stalwart member of the GOP, Representative “Sonny” Callahan while in college. I am one of the over one million concealed…
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Black American Injustice Continues: Commute The 25 Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence For Michael Giles.
I wonder — had he killed his attacker, would he have been free under SYG.
By Jueseppi B.
Petition by Phyllis Giles Winston, GA.
Three years ago my son Michael was attacked outside of a club in Tallahassee, FL. His attacker admitted in open court that he attacked Michael with no provocation.
Michael’s attacker admitted he was angry that someone had interrupted his dance, and wanted to hurt the next person he saw. That next person standing to the side, not partaking in the violence, was Michael. His attacker was not fighting alone, state witnesses testified that there were between 30-40 people involved in the brawl. The state’s own witnesses also testified that the aggressor instigated several other fights that night, and was acting erratically and violently. His attacker’s own friend testified she was worried the aggressor would kill or seriously injure someone. In comparison, state witnesses testified that Michael, was…
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This is a great commentary. A major problem with Florida’s self-defense law is that it does not require the person in fear to retreat. Dunn testified that his question, “Are you talking about me?” was intended to de-escalate when actual de-escalation was for him to simply move his car.
Michael Dunn will likely receive a lengthy prison sentence after a jury found him guilty on three counts of attempted murder and one count of firing into a vehicle. The jury however was unable to reach agreement on the charge of first degree murder for killing Jordan Davis. On that charge, a mistrial was declared, but the four felony counts that Dunn was found guilty of could still send him to prison for up to 75 years. Dunn’s sentencing is scheduled for March 24th.
Dunn was remanded to custody after being convicted, and if the judge gives him anything close to the maximum sentence on each charge, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Yet, the verdict was disconcerting for one simple reason. Dunn was not convicted for murdering Jordan Davis. Had he confined his shooting to firing one or two fatal shots, he conceivably could…
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