The Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, and a number of other news sources have been reporting on the story.
According to reports, a Miami-Dade police officer and a locksmith arrived at a condo on Miami Beach for the purpose of carrying out an eviction. Allegedly, the occupant knew that the eviction would be taking place.
Under Florida law, a county sheriff's deputy (in Miami-Dade County that means an officer of the Miami-Dade Police Department) must carry out an eviction proceeding. Since the officer is not about to kick somebody's door down, they usually employ the services of a locksmith if the occupant will not let the officer in.
What apparently happened was that the police officer went to the condo and tried to make contact with the occupant. The occupant did not answer. The officer believed that somebody was home and contacted a locksmith.
The locksmith used his tools to unlock the door. As the door came open, the occupant fired shots, killing the locksmith.
The occupant has been arrested and is being held at the Dade County Jail without bond. That is because police and prosecutors are likely examining whether the occupant had a defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law.
Now the police and locksmith had a legal right to be at the condo since the owner (the occupant was not the owner of the condo) had initiated the eviction. However, you are protected in your place of residence, be it a home that you own or an apartment that you rent.
If the occupant knew that the locksmith was assisting in an eviction and had a legal right to be there, then the occupant will be guilty of murder. You cannot shoot somebody who is in the process of carrying out a lawful eviction.
However - and this is a big however - the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the occupant knew that the locksmith was at the condo lawfully.
If not, then it is reasonable to conclude that the occupant believed that he was the victim of a home-invasion robbery when the locksmith (a man previously unknown to the occupant) burst through the front door.
This case demonstrates that so much in criminal defense is based on the facts of the case. In this instance, the issue of whether the occupant believed that the locksmith was merely a locksmith carrying out an eviction or a would-be home-invader is what the entire case hinges upon.
As a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, I can tell you that one of the most difficult things to do is prove the element of knowledge because that requires you to prove what another person was thinking.
But this occupant is being held in jail without bond as murder is a non-bondable offense. This is likely a case that will result in a jury trial.
I am a criminal attorney who practices in Miami-Dade and Broward. If you need information regarding your criminal charges, or the charges of a loved one, call me today.