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Lawyers: Shooting death over parking dispute a clear case of 'stand-your-ground'

Murder suspect hailed a hero by witnesses
Posted at 10:21 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 23:10:07-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Another year, another dispute over a parking spot in Clearwater ends with someone dead.

Was it murder? Or was it self defense?

The answer to those questions depends on who you ask. Clearwater police charged 31-year-old Deshon Powers with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Derek Omasta, 26. On Thursday, Powers, out on a $750,000 bond, stood with his mom and dad, lawyers, and three witnesses who all say Clearwater police investigators got it all wrong.

Powers' defense team called him a "hero" saying he protected the lives of three people that night.

There are two sides to this shooting. The first accounts came out in the days after Omasta was shot and killed on August 31.

ABC Action News reported that Omasta was shot and killed during the argument while holding a phone.

On September 7, ABC Action News spoke to Omasta's widow.

"We came home. We pulled around their car to park. The next thing you know, a female's coming out arguing," Samantha Omasta, Derek's widow told us earlier this month. "Derek ignores it. Continues to help me out of the car. Next thing you know, a man's coming out arguing. Derek goes to reach for his phone to call the landlord; he made that very clear. I'm calling my landlord."

According to police, during the argument, Powers went inside his home and got a handgun. He came out and continued to argue with the victim before shooting him, police say.

"The next thing you know, I'm being pushed out of the way, and I see three white flashes," Samantha said. "I still can't get the image of him falling backward and me having to catch him as he's just going down."

Powers defense team says they have three witnesses that filed sworn affidavits that Omasta was the aggressor.

"He chose to escalate and to lunge toward Mr. Powers and friends while they were, and this is very important, on the porch of Mr. Powers residence," Norman Harris Powers' attorney said. "One witness actually visually saw the knife, one witness heard Mr. Powers say something to the effect of 'why did you get the knife? Why did you get the knife? Why do you have a knife?' And another witness saw Mr. Omasta make movement and a noise consistent with flipping open a switchblade."

Harris says to protect himself and others Powers grabbed his gun.

"The gun was right behind the door on a counter in the door. So it was basically a quick step in and grabbed the gun. And it wasn't a grab and shoot. It was a grab and warn."

Police would not comment on the evidence of the case but released a statement that read, "The case is in the hands of the court and state attorney. The quantity of evidence supported a probable cause arrest for what the suspect was charged with."

"There was a knife and between the time of the shooting and the arrival of law enforcement the wife was alone with Mr. Omasta," Harris said. "When law enforcement arrived, to our knowledge, at this point, there was no knife, and we would ask investigators to be a little more aggressive about finding this knife."

Despite multiple attempts, Omasta's widow could not be reached for comment.