Before Trayvon: 3 Notable Stand Your Ground Cases

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on April 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Trayvon Martin's tragic death has drawn worldwide attention to Stand Your Ground laws, which generally allow the use of deadly force if a person reasonably feels he is in imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.

Trayvon Martin, of course, is not the first case where the shooter claimed a "stand your ground" type of defense. Here are three other notable "stand your ground" type of defense cases:

Hernando Riascos Torres and Diego Ortiz -- Pasadena, Texas (2007):

Torres, 38, and Ortiz, 30, were undocumented immigrants allegedly caught leaving the scene of a home burglary. Neighbor Joe Horn, 62, called 911. "I've got a shotgun," he told a dispatcher. "Do you want me to stop them?"

"Nope, don't do that," the dispatcher replied. "Ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?"

But Horn ignored that advice. In his breathless 911 call, Horn can be heard opening his front door, racking his shotgun, and saying, "Hello. You're dead!" He shot Torres and Ortiz in the back, killing them both.

You can hear the fatal shots in the 911 recording:

A grand jury declined to indict Horn, apparently believing his claim that he feared for his life, the Houston Chronicle reported. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's killing, a Texas lawmaker is vowing to repeal the state's Stand Your Ground law.

Travares McGill -- Sanford, Fla. (2005)

The case of Travares McGill is another Sanford-based self defense case. McGill, 16, was sitting in a car at an apartment complex when someone shined a bright light into the vehicle. It turned out to be two security guards, who did not identify themselves, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

McGill tried to back out and get away. The guards -- Bryan Ansley, 28, and William Patrick Swofford, 26 -- opened fire. McGill was shot in the back and died.

Ansley and Swofford claimed self-defense, saying they feared McGill was trying to run them over. A grand jury indicted both security guards, but charges against both men were eventually dropped.

Yoshihiro Hattori -- Central, La. (1992):

Hattori, 16, was a Japanese foreign-exchange student who knocked on the wrong door while looking for a Halloween party. Homeowner Rodney Peairs, 31, claimed he was frightened by Hattori -- so he opened fire and killed him, claiming self defense. A jury acquitted Peairs of manslaughter in a case that shocked many observers in Japan, The New York Times reports.

[4/2/2012 2:11 pm PST Editor's note: This post was changed to clarify these are "stand your ground" type of cases. In general, justifiable use of force laws allow the use of deadly force with no duty to retreat in certain circumstances. Florida's now infamous justifiable use of force law (commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground) went into effect October 1, 2005.]

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