I knew this would happen. It was just a matter of when.
In 2008, an off-duty federal agent was shot and killed in the parking lot of the post office on the corner of Pines Boulevard and Dykes Road. The incident made national headlines as it appeared - at first glance - that thiw was a tragic murder.
However, as the truth slowly began to come out, it appeared as though the accused, a now 68-year old man with no prior criminal record and a state-issued concealed carry permit, had actually acted in self-defense.
This fact was bolstered when the Broward State Attorney tried to get a grand jury indictment for murder but was only able to secure an indictment for the lesser charge of manslaughter. While a grand jury only hears evidence from the prosecution with no response from the defense, something obviously didn't sit right with them. At least not enough to charge the accused with murder. So they settled on manslaughter, a charge that does not require proof of premeditation or intent to kill.
Now it is 2011. Nearly 3 years have passed since the incident and now the accused's criminal defense attorney has filed a motion to dismiss under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled late last year that the state's Stand Your Ground law was intended to block any prosecution of people resorting to force in self-defense, and not just to give defendants an argument to use at trial.
In other words, the law was intended to give those who exercise lawful self-defense immunity from prosecution. The law was not just intended to be a trial defense. The law was intended to prevent those who use lawful self-defense from ever having to face criminal prosecution.
The hearing comes 3 years after the incident, which is not surprising. Since Stand Your Ground immunity must be based on facts that support the use of self-defense, there can be little to no factual disputes. The defense has conducted witness interviews and has taken depositions. If an eyewitness claims that they saw the alleged victim reaching for a weapon, then the fact that the accused shot and killed the alleged victim in self-defense would be supported. Factual disputes are for juries to resolve. Legal disputes - such as whether lawful self-defense was used when the facts and not in dispute - is for the judge.
The alleged victim and the accused got into a heated road rage argument. Somebody cut somebody else off and the alleged victim decided to follow the accused into the post office parking lot. The accused, at the time, was 65. The alleged victim was younger and was an off-duty federal agent. While many facts have not been released, it is possible that the alleged victim lost his cool and reached for his weapon. If that is the case, then the accused had every right to defend his life with lethal force. If the alleged victim did not reach for his weapon, did not advance toward the accused in a threatening fashion, or did not take any aggressive action other than yelling, then the accused can be convicted of manslaugher.