Stand Your Ground Defense Denied in FL Vet's Killing

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law cannot be used by a senior citizen accused of manslaughter in the 2010 killing of an unarmed Air Force veteran, a judge has ruled.

Trevor Dooley, then 69, admits shooting and killing his neighbor David James, 41, of Valrico, Fla., during an argument in a neighborhood basketball court, Tampa's WFTS-TV reports.

The dispute began when Dooley yelled at a teenager to stop skateboarding on the court. James, who was playing basketball with his 8-year-old daughter, stood up for the skateboarder -- asking Dooley to show him a sign saying skateboarding wasn't allowed.

What happened next is in dispute.

Prosecutors say Trevor Dooley, who holds a concealed weapons permit, pulled out a gun to intimidate his neighbor, WFTS reports. That allegedly led to a fight, during which Dooley shot and killed James in front of his young daughter.

Dooley claimed self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which provides immunity from prosecution if a person "reasonably believes" deadly force is necessary to prevent death, serious bodily injury, or the commission of a forcible felony.

At a hearing about whether "Stand Your Ground" gave Dooley immunity, Dooley testified that at one point during the fight, James had a hand around his throat and "was killing me." That's when Dooley pulled out a gun and shot James, Dooley said.

But a judge sided with prosecutors. "There was no reasonable belief that deadly force was required," the judge wrote in a ruling released Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The ruling means Dooley's manslaughter case will proceed to trial -- where his lawyer can try to persuade jurors of Dooley's self-defense claim, according to the Times. A trial date has not yet been set.

Trevor Dooley's "Stand Your Ground" ruling shows what could happen to George Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

A pre-trial hearing will likely determine whether Zimmerman is immune from prosecution under "Stand Your Ground." If the case proceeds to trial, Zimmerman's lawyer will likely try to persuade jurors of Zimmerman's self-defense claim.

It's not clear when such a "Stand Your Ground" hearing will take place in Zimmerman's case. His defense team will first review the prosecution's evidence. The evidence (including medical records) was released to Zimmerman's lawyers on Monday, Tampa's Bay News 9 reports.

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