'Stand Your Ground' law in the spotlight - FOX 13 News

'Stand Your Ground' law in the spotlight

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer put Florida's "Stand Your Ground" defense and its complexities in the spotlight

Just this week, prosecutors decided two cases with Stand Your Ground implications will never go before a judge or jury.

The latest was the death of Daniel Oliver, a 19-year-old man shot to death by his roommate on September 2nd in Brandon.

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office determined the evidence at the crime scene showed the shooter acted in self-defense, and will not face any charges. Hillsborough Sheriff Sergeant Larry McKinnon says these cases are never easy to decide.

"We'd like to bring closure. We know these are emotional case for the family but we have to deal with facts and not the emotional side of it," Sgt. McKinnon said.

The law allows a person to use deadly force to save his or her own life, even if there is a chance they could retreat.

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Brown says these cases are not as cut and dried as some may think.

These days, -where- the incident occurred is just as important.

"Are you lawfully where your supposed to be? And then the question is, are you in a house or are you in a car? Or simply on the street? Now prosecutors have to look at all those scenarios when before, they didn't have to look at that, except when you were in your house, " Brown said.

Take the provocative case in 2010 when Trevor Dooley brought a gun to a neighborhood basketball court and shot his neighbor to death after a heated dispute over a skateboarder. He invoked the Stand Your Ground defense, but in May, a judge ruled he is not entitled to immunity.

"Had that same scenario been taken from the basketball court into a house, or taken into a car, he would have had every right to use a firearm," Brown explained.

But while Dooley may have lost one battle in court, Brown says he gets another chance.
"Even if you lose, you still need to go before a jury and you can still raise the very same argument that you raised in front of a judge. So defendants really have two shots at it now," Brown explained.

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