Florida’s self defense laws have been in the national spotlight since the death of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman was not arrested for murder until April 11, 2012. A jury acquitted him on July 13, 2013. Although the Zimmerman/Martin case has closed, the debate over Florida’s self defense laws continues. Jacksonville criminal attorneys debate over the laws and their interpretation. Jacksonville lawyers are not the only people discussing the laws. Self defense in Florida is a popular topic due to two Jacksonville criminal law cases. These cases are at the center of the Florida Stand Your Ground Law debate. The two cases are the Michael Dunn murder trial and the Marissa Alexander attempted murder trial.
Yesterday, a Duval County judge set Michael Dunn’s case for trial in September (Read Jacksonville Criminal Lawyers Prepare for New Trial for the story). Today, Judge James Daniel delayed Marissa Alexander’s retrial until December 1. Judge Daniel made this decision because “Gov. Rick Scott has not signed the new warning shot bill.” This makes it “too soon to consider it in Alexander’s trial.” Alexander will not go back to court until August 1. First Coast News of Jacksonville reported on the story stating:
“Criminal defense attorney Faith Gay wants her client to have a ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing. The law grants immunity from prosecution if it is found a person used deadly force out of fear for their life. In addition to arguing for use of the new ‘warning shot bill’, New York-based Gay also argued that the court needs to consider new evidence, which she said includes recounted testimony from Alexander’s estranged stepson and a domestic violence expert.”
The Duval County Assistant State Attorney disagreed with the criminal defense attorney’s argument. He stated that:
“The new law cannot be applied to this case retroactively and that Gay’s evidence is not ‘new enough’ for it to be heard in court.’ He also pointed the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled that another judge was correct in denying Alexander’s previous attempt for a ‘Stand Your Ground’ hearing.”
As most Jacksonville criminal lawyers and prosecutors do, the State and defense have two different stories about what happened when Alexander fired the shots. “Prosecutors contend the 33-year-old intended to shoot her estranged husband with his two children present.” On the other hand, “Alexander’s defense has maintained she was only firing a ‘warning shot’ out of fear for her safety. She is currently out on bond and on home detention awaiting her retrial.”
Judge Daniel has not ruled on the Stand Your Ground issue.