After 20 hours of deliberation, a Miami-Dade jury found a man guilty of second-degree murder for the shooting death of his ex-wife's new husband.
Days ago, I wrote about this story (click here to read). A Miami man had raised a Stand Your Ground claim prior to trial, stating that the alleged victim had made threats to the accused prior to the shooting. The accused also stated that at the moment he fired his gun and killed the alleged victim, he reasonably believed that the alleged victim was reaching for a weapon.
The judge denied the Stand Your Ground motion and the case proceeded to trial. At trial, the accused raised a self-defense claim.
With regard to a Stand Your Ground claim, you may ask the court for immunity in the form of a pre-trial motion. The court is then required to hold a hearing whereby the court will decide whether you are entitled to Stand Your Ground immunity.
If the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the accused exercised lethal force under a reasonable belief that the use of such force was necessary to save his life or prevent serious injury, the court will grant the motion and the accused's case will be dismissed.
In this particular case, the court did not feel that the threshhold had been met.
At trial, you may raise self-defense as an affirmative defense even if your Stand Your Ground claim has failed. The statutory language of a self-defense jury instruction nearly mirrors that of the Stand Your Ground law.
Your are permitted to use lethal self-defense if you act under a reasonable belief that such force was necessary to prevent death or serious injury. That is a question of fact for the jury to decide.
In this case, the jury did not believe that the accused acted in self-defense. While given the choice to convict of premeditated first-degree murder or the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder, the jury convicted the accused of second-degree murder. The jury did this because they did not believe that the accused planned to murder the alleged victim, but rather it was something that happened in the heat of the moment.
The jury also convicted the accused of two counts of child abuse because the shooting occurred in the presence of two young children.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.