HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - A Hillsborough County judge has ruled that a Valrico man cannot use Florida's Stand Your Ground defense in the shooting death of a man in September 2010.
MORE: George Zimmerman case
Circuit Judge Ashley Moody denied a motion to use the Stand Your Ground defense on Monday.
Trevor Dooley, 69, said he was protecting himself when he was attacked and choked by David James
Dooley is charged with manslaughter in James’ death.
On September 26, 2010, James and his 8-year-old daughter Danielle were playing basketball on a neighborhood court in Valrico. A teenage skateboarder was skating on the other side of the court.
Dooley, who lives across the street, saw the skateboarder and yelled at him that he was not allowed to skate on the court. James stuck up for the teenager, yelling to Dooley to show him the sign saying he was not allowed to skate.
A verbal altercation between Dooley and James ensued. That altercation at some point became physical, and ended when Dooley -- who has a concealed weapons’ permit -- took his gun out and shot James.
Both sides disagree on the altercation though. The prosecution argues Dooley showed James he had a gun, and that is when the altercation became physical. They portray Dooley as the aggressor.
The defense argues it was James who attacked Dooley, and Dooley only took the gun out in self-defense.
In February, Dooley testified at a hearing on that subject. He told the judge he "felt threatened" and "was being choked" by James, who he said "was killing" him. He fully admitted to firing the shot that killed James.
His attorney also tried to portray Dooley as an older, smaller and physically weaker man than James, who feared for his safety.
The defense also called James’ daughter, now 10 years old, to testify. She saw the altercation and shooting take place.
She said she did not see Dooley’s gun until he took it out during the altercation. She also said her father was "on top" of Dooley at one point "to keep him down so he could actually get the answer" about where the sign was.
According to Florida's Stand Your Ground law enacted in 2005, a person is allowed to used deadly force if they feel bodily injury or death is imminent.
According to Monday's ruling, "...the evidence showed that Mr. James had not been threatening or aggressive in any way toward Defendant, although he did appear to be shocked, defensive, loud, upset and agitated. It was not until Defendant reached for and pulled out his weapon - indicating an intent to escalate from an argument to violence - that Mr. James exerted and used physical force against Defendant."
The Stand Your Ground law is now under re-examination following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford last February.
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