Stand your ground, three cases…two arrests

Good Evening

I am going to tell you three stories, about guns…protecting yourself and standing your ground. All three scenarios are from Florida…and all three question the use of the popular GOP/ALEC backed law also known as “Stand Your Ground.”

In a little section of Hillsborough County Florida, called Valrico, David James was playing basketball with his 8–year old daughter on a community basketball court. While they played together, a skateboarder who was also on the court caught the attention of another man…Trevor Dooley, who lived across the street.

Skateboards were banned on the basketball court, yelled Dooley to the kid with the board, and James spoke up to defend the skateboarder…where was the sign stating kids were not allowed to skate?

Dooley and James got into an argument that turned violent, and Dooley, who had a concealed gun permit, took his gun and shot James.

Dooley was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman who had documented proof of past physical abuse from her husband, was in yet another situation where an argument between her and her husband made her feel threatened. Marissa Alexander, in the process of leaving the house where the altercation was taking place,  realized when she got into the car that she forgot her keys. She took her gun and went back into the house where her husband and two sons where also leaving the house. Alexander took the gun and fired a warning shot to keep her husband from coming forward and attacking her.

She was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And in yet another part of Florida, this time in a town called Sanford, an unarmed young black teenager was walking home from a 7 Eleven….you all know the rest of that story.

All three situations invoked the “Stand your Ground” defense. Only two resulted in immediate arrest of the shooter.

We have talked extensively about the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, a situation where a boy was killed, shot point-blank in the chest by a man who was never arrested and charged with a crime. That is until public outcry brought about an investigation by the states attorney’s office.

Just last week, Marissa Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The jury took only 12 minutes to return that verdict of guilty.

Just today, a judge has denied the motion from Dooley’s attorney regarding the use of the “stand your ground” law in his defense.

The point of this post is not to debate the guilt of each of these people who used a gun, in what they describe as necessary force against a life threatening altercation.

We discussed the lack of arrest in the Trayvon Martin murder, and our outcry was against a police department and district attorney who obviously “neglected” to charge George Zimmerman with any sort of crime.

Here then are two examples of a case where in similar circumstances, an arrest was made and charges were immediately brought against the suspect.

Dooley and Alexander both are African-American. Zimmerman is a white Hispanic.

All three are proof of an undeniable bias in the criminal system…and that is exactly what brought about my protest against this “system” that let Zimmerman go free, while his victim lay dead in the morgue.

For more information on the cases I described above:

Child terrified to testify near man accused of killing father | Crime | Brandon-Valrico-Seffner News

‘Stand Your Ground’ defense denied for Trevor Dooley in 2010 death of David James in Valrico

Stand Your Ground denied for Trevor Dooley, the man accused of killing Valrico father, David James | wtsp.com

Marissa Alexander, Florida Mom, Faces Mandatory 20 Years In Prison After Failed Stand-Your-Ground Defense (UPDATE)

Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in controversial warning shot case – CNN.com

Shame of mandatory minimums shows in Marissa Alexander case – CNN.com

Corey: Jax Woman Shot in Anger, Not Fear, She’ll Get 20 Years

Another Fla. shooting could take center stage in House floor debate – The Hill’s Floor Action

George Zimmerman comparison? Woman gets 20 years for warning shot – latimes.com

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18 Comments on “Stand your ground, three cases…two arrests”

  1. I wanted to write this post because it illustrates the problem we had with the Sanford police and DA handling of Zimmerman’s murder of Martin. The bias involved in the system.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s an excellent post, JJ. Thank you for writing it.

      Judging by the Marissa Alexander case, there does seems to be a racial element to all this–maybe it also has to do with gender.

      These cases aren’t all alike. Although there probably is a racial element working in the Dooley case, it does seem obvious that he wasn’t “standing his ground.” The other man wasn’t threatening Dooley’s life or safety.

      The real test will be whether Zimmerman is permitted to use stand your ground. I don’t think there’s any evidence that he was standing his ground, so if his case is dismissed based on that, it will be a shocking indication of racism.

      • Thanks BB, I did not want to get into a discussion about the actual cases themselves, or whether they are guilty or not…but I wanted to bring up the issue of the arrest.

    • propertius says:

      The cases aren’t comparable. In the other cases you cited, there were eyewitnesses at the scene who disputed the defendant’s account of events. No eyewitnesses to the shooting have come forward in the Zimmerman case, so there was no one on hand to contradict Zimmerman’s account. There was no “probable cause” for the responding officers to make an arrest.

      In the Anderson case, 3 eyewitnesses (her husband and her two stepchildren) testified that she started the physical altercation in the first place, and threatened them with the handgun before firing it into the ceiling. Note that while her husband had previously been charged with domestic battery, so had she. The accounts of her husband and stepsons were all consistent. Now one might infer that the witnesses were biased, but the officers (and eventually the jury) found them convincing.

      In the Dooley case, there were also 3 eyewitnesses (in addition to James’s daughter) who contradicted Dooley’s account of events – the skateboarder and a completely uninvolved couple who saw the incident from their front yard. They all testified that Dooley threatened James with his handgun before any physical altercation started.

      Again, there was nobody at the scene who witnessed the Martin shooting and therefore no reason for officers at the scene to make an arrest. Since Zimmerman stuck to his story during interrogation and no inconsistencies emerged, there was no grounds for arrest at that time. They may well have thought he was lying through his teeth, but that’s not “probable cause”. Unfortunately, Martin is not around to give his side of the story. Whether there is sufficient forensic evidence to conclude that Zimmerman’s account is false is something that will come out during trial.

      • bostonboomer says:

        We actually already have evidence that Zimmerman had no reason to shoot Martin. He was on the phone with a police dispatcher who told him he didn’t need to follow Martin. If Zimmerman had simply stayed in his car, the shooting wouldn’t have happened. There are also quite a few witnesses who saw or heard parts of the altercation.

        From what Zimmerman’s attorney has said so far, it isn’t clear that he will even try to use the stand your ground defense. I think it will probably depend on the forensic evidence from Martin’s autopsy and ballistic test that indicate the likely positions of Martin and Zimmerman when the shooting took place. Clearly it could not have happened the way Zimmerman described (that he shot Martin in the chest while Martin was on top of him. If that happened, Zimmerman would have been covered with Martin’s blood.

        Keep in mind that if Zimmerman does try to use stand your ground, he will have to take the stand and convince the judge. Stand your ground is an affirmative defense that would result in the charges being dismissed. I don’t think O’Mara wants Zimmerman on the stand, since he already lied under oath in his previous appearance. I think O’Mara will try to use straightforward self-defense rather than stand your ground, and as you said, the forensic evidence will tell the tale–along with the testimony of witnesses who do exist even though you don’t admit it.

        I know your mind is made up on this, so I’m not going to argue with you about it. I’m just summarizing parts of the known evidence that you omitted in your comment.

      • First off Propertius, these cases have been used as a comparison to the Zimmerman case in the media. So that is what brought my attention to them.

        As far as Zimmerman, yes there was evidence to arrest and charge him with manslaughter…as the lead detective wanted to do. However, that was overruled by the DA and Sheriff.

        It was only public protest that brought the case to light and eventually got an investigation into the matter from the states attorney’s office.

      • Seriously says:

        Note that the elder son actually changed his story and admitted he’d lied in his deposition. He was never in fear for his life. Because of the lies, Alexander was offered a plea bargain. It really doesn’t say much for FL justice that the charges weren’t reduced or dropped or that the jury took 12 minutes to validate the consistency of the stories between abusive dad and minor children. Please note also that the DV was severe enough to send Alexander to the hospital on at least one occasion, while Grey admitted in *his deposition* that he would have killed her if she’d cheated on him and bragged about abusing at least 4 women. She was charged with domestic battery 4 months after the gun incident, but there doesn’t really seem to be full equivalence between them.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    It would also be interesting to look at all the cases that have been dismissed on stand your ground to see the racial makeup of the participants.

    Another point–the race of the victim is most salient according to studies I’ve seen. When the victim is white, there’s stronger action than if the victim is black.

    • Yes, I plan on doing that research BB, just a matter of time constraints, and I wanted to get this post published while the news about the Dooley and Alexander cases were fresh.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I read that Florida doesn’t keep records of these cases, but I think I have some links saved that I can send you.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I’m not really familiar with the Anderson case, but based on this from one of the linked articles,

    A judge rejected Alexander’s Stand Your Ground defense, saying that she could have escaped her attacker “through the front or back door,” court records say.

    I can’t help but suspect either race or gender prejudice, since the stand your ground law says there is no requirement to retreat. Is the judge saying that because she only fired a warning shot and didn’t kill her attacker, she can’t use that defense? It makes no sense.

    Frankly the law makes no sense.

  4. gxm17 says:

    You forgot the case of Daniel Adkins Jr. There has been no arrest in his shooting death either. Since it is alleged that the man who shot him to death is rumored to be African American (unlike George Zimmerman, his name is not being used in news stories because he hasn’t been charged with a crime therefore his race is not on official record) and the victim is Hispanic (and disabled), it doesn’t fit your racial perspective angle. There are other SYG cases where the shooter got away with murder, touched upon in the CNN article link below. This is not a problem limited to Florida and it is not a problem limited to any one racial demographic.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/29/us/stand-your-ground/index.html

    That said, I do agree that in the Marissa Alexander case, the SYG law is being used to send abused women the message that if they fight back (and no one is hurt) the “judicial” system will take them out.

  5. The Rock says:

    Great post Minx. That is just shocking what is going on in the Florida legal system. It’s funny to hear the Travon case being debated when so few people know the facts. Not the facts as they are being presented by the talking heads, but what you put in this post – the evidence supporting the real issues of this case.

    Just last week, Marissa Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The jury took only 12 minutes to return that verdict of guilty.

    I was unaware of either the completely awful job that defence lawyers are doing in Florida or the sheer looniness of juries in that state. And the judge allowed the husband to change his testimony and said that she could have escaped though a different door???? It seemed that absolutely no weight was given to the documented abuse. Florida does not seem to feel any need to protect its women. Credit to Sharpton. He KNOWS how to bring light to an issue. The national women’s groups need to take a page from that playbook on this one.

    Hillary 2012

  6. gxm17 says:

    Another sad SYG case. Every time you turn around another one seems to pop up.

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/may/12/dateline-nbcstand-your-ground-nuno-saavedra-bus/