News website www.cbslocal.com is reporting that a New Year's Eve party turned deadly when an argument between friends turned into murder.
The shooting occurred around the 200 block of SW 8th street in Ft. Lauderdale, where a New Year's Eve party was being hosted.
According to Fort Lauderdale police, the alleged victim thought that the 38-year-old accused shooter had been drinking too much at the party. The alleged victim then apparently told him he should go home.
When the alleged victim offered to give him a ride, the accused shooter apparently pulled out a gun and shot the alleged victim.
The alleged victim was taken to Broward General Medical Center, where he died.
Police said that the accused shooter turned himself in and was charged by police with murder.
As far as the degree of murder, it will depend on whether prosecutors believe that the man premeditated the crime. Given the fact that alcohol is alleged to have been involved, it may have been a shooting that occurred "in the heat of the moment," without deliberation or forethought.
Therefore, he will likely be charged with second-degree murder. First-degree murder can only be charged when there is proof that the murder was premeditated.
As far as defenses go, the fact that the accused shooter may have been intoxicated is of no consequence. Many years ago, the State of Florida abolished the defense of voluntary intoxication.
Involuntary intoxication is a defense, but the defense attorney would have to demonstrate that the accused was drugged or given alcohol unknowingly and without his consent. Unless their is proof that the accused ingested drugs unwittingly, this defense is not likely to work.
This is an unfortunate situation involving alcohol, anger, and a firearm. Since a gun was used in the murder, the accused shooter will be subject to Florida's 10-20-Life law and will face a 25-year mandatory prison sentence.
A good criminal defense attorney may be able to get the mandatory sentence waived and plea this down to manslaughter. Either way, unless additional facts prove that a self-defense claim can be asserted, this case is likely to be resolved by a plea.
Attorney Eric Matheny practices criminal defense in Miami-Dade and Broward. For a free, confidential consultation, call today.