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North Florida Man Takes The Witness Stand In Self-Defense Killing

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A 47 year-old Jacksonville man is facing first-degree murder charges after he allegedly unloaded at least nine rounds into a car carrying several young men back in 2012.

The shooting apparently happened in a parking lot. The alleged victim and his friends were in their car, listening to loud music.

The accused asked the alleged victim’s friends to turn down the music. They complied, but then the alleged victim turned the music back up.

A heated argument ensued. The accused drew his concealed firearm and fired multiple rounds. He did so because he allegedly felt threatened by the group of young men.

The accused is claiming that he acted in self-defense. In support of his claim, the accused became a witness in his own defense.

As a criminal defense attorney, I find that it is difficult to present a successful self-defense claim without having the defendant testify.

A self-defense claim is incredibly fact-specific. The jury, as the finders of fact, must decide whether the circumstances existed that would justify the accused’s use of deadly force.

This case has been compared to the George Zimmerman case. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in July 2013 for shooting and killing an unarmed 17 year-old boy. Much like the Zimmerman case, the accused is an older white man and the alleged victim is a black teenager.

According to the evidence, the accused’s fiance admitted that the accused had been drinking prior to the incident. This fact could hurt the accused as his ability to reason (self-defense requires a “reasonable man” standard be applied to the facts) would be compromised by alcohol.

If it helps any, it may help lessen the premeditation aspect, reducing the charge from first to second-degree murder, possibly even manslaughter if the jury felt he possessed no intent to kill.

The accused and his fiance also left the scene of the shooting. Zimmerman, in contrast, called 911 and stayed on scene.

The testimony of the accused appears to have concluded for the day. The defense continues to present witnesses as they put on their case.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing clients in Miami-Dade and Broward.