The Daily Need

Five ‘Stand Your Ground’ cases you should know about

The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.

But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.)

The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be — so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm. Among the Stand Your Ground cases identified by the paper, defendants went free nearly 70 percent of the time.

Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law, 24 other states enforce similar versions. Using the Tampa Bay findings and others, we’ve highlighted some of the most notable cases where a version of the Stand Your Ground law has led to freedom from criminal prosecution:

Joe Horn spoke with the media after the Harris County Grand Jury cleared him in the deaths of the two men who were shot and killed by Horn as they broke into his neighbor's home in November 2007. Photo: Karen Warren / Chronicle

· In November 2007, a Houston-area man pulled out a shotgun and killed two men whom he suspected of burglarizing his neighbor’s home. Joe Horn, a 61-year-old retiree, called 911 and urged the operator to ” 2018Catch these guys, will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.’ ” Despite being warned to remain inside his home, Horn stated he would shoot, telling the operator, ” 2018I have a right to protect myself too, sir. The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.’ ”

Two months earlier, the Texas Legislature passed a Stand Your Ground law removing a citizen’s duty to retreat while in public places before using deadly force. In July 2008, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Horn of any criminal charges.

· In Louisiana early this year, a grand jury cleared 21-year-old Byron Thomas after he fired into an SUV filled with teenagers after an alleged marijuana transaction went sour. One of the bullets struck and killed 15-year-old Jamonta Miles. Although the SUV was allegedly driving away when Thomas opened fire, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said to local media that as far as Thomas knew, someone could have jumped out of the vehicle with a gun. Thomas, said the sheriff, had “decided to stand his ground.”

Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground law was enacted just a year after Florida introduced its law.

· In March 2012, Bo Morrison was shot and killed by a homeowner in Wisconsin who discovered the unarmed 20-year-old on his porch early one morning. According to friends, Morrison was trying to evade police responding to a noise complaint at a neighboring underage drinking party. The homeowner, thinking Morrison was a burglar, was not charged by the local district attorney.

While Wisconsin doesn’t have a Stand Your Ground law that extends to public spaces, Gov. Scott Walker signed an “intruders bill” in December 2011 that presumes somebody who uses deadly force against a trespasser in their home, business or vehicle acted reasonably, whether or not the intruder was armed. Before the law was enacted, homeowners could only use deadly force if their own lives were at risk.

· In April, 22-year-old Cordell Jude shot and killed Daniel Adkins Jr., a pedestrian who walked in front of Jude’s car just as Jude was pulling up to the window of a Taco Bell drive-thru in Arizona. Jude claimed Adkins had waved his arms in the air, wielding what Judge thought was a metal pipe 2013 it was actually a dog leash. Jude shot the 29-year-old Adkins, who was mentally disabled, once in the chest. As of May, an arrest had not been made in the April 3 shooting. Arizona passed a Stand Your Ground law in 2010.

· In January, a judge in Miami tossed out a second-degree murder charge against Greyston Garcia after he chased a suspected burglar for more than a block and stabbed him to death. The judge decided the stabbing was justified because the burglar had swung a bag of stolen car radios at Garcia 2013 an object that a medical examiner at a hearing testified could cause “serious harm or death.” The judge found Garcia was “well within his rights to pursue the victim and demand the return of his property.”

 

 
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Comments

  • Private Private

    These cases are the exception of self defense, not the rule.

    Some of them seem to protect potentially careless uses of deadly force; however, there are many more cases that show deadly force used as a reasonable option without potential abuse.

    We have a right to drive cars. Some people are incapable of reasonable driving, go way too fast and kill someone. Should we now view this more isolated incident as the normal or the exception?

    The article seems more geared towards highlighting cases that are in the grey area of the intent of the “Stand Your Ground” laws. It should be noted that the vast majority of cases where the law is applied are cases where it is clear the use of deadly force was more than justified.

    The slant of this article, with a healthy level of skepticism and critical thinking on my part, causes me to question the motive of the article. Are we suppose to take this very small exception of self defense cases and suddenly believe we need to over turn laws and petition to over turn them without having full context?

    I certainly hope I am not readying simple propaganda on the Public broadcasting network.

  • Private Private

    These cases are the exception of self defense, not the rule.

    Some of them seem to protect potentially careless uses of deadly force; however, there are many more cases that show deadly force used as a reasonable option without potential abuse.

    We have a right to drive cars. Some people are incapable of reasonable driving, go way too fast and kill someone. Should we now view this more isolated incident as the normal or the exception?

    The article seems more geared towards highlighting cases that are in the grey area of the intent of the “Stand Your Ground” laws. It should be noted that the vast majority of cases where the law is applied are cases where it is clear the use of deadly force was more than justified.

    The slant of this article, with a healthy level of skepticism and critical thinking on my part, causes me to question the motive of the article. Are we suppose to take this very small exception of self defense cases and suddenly believe we need to over turn laws and petition to over turn them without having full context?

    I certainly hope I am not readying simple propaganda on the Public broadcasting network.

  • LKM

    As far as I am concerned each of these cases make a mockery of the true intent of this law..to me this law is intended to protect an individual, their family and property from a threatening person..that to me means someone trying to break into a home, a vehicle, etc…where the owner and his/her family are…or someone attacking or following an individual and/or his/her family..
    Apparently, I take the law literally as it is written and these lawyers and judges feel they can apply their own twist…since when is it standing your ground to go up to a SUV to buy drugs and then shoot the dealer…
    or when someone walks in front of you vehicle and that give you the right to shoot them..
    The law is meant to be used as it has been in Oklahoma..when intruders are killed breaking into a home with the intent to do harm to the person inside..I have heard of three women who were able to protect themselves because of the stand your ground law..
    these idiots who misuse the law are going to ruin it for everyone!

  • LKM

    As far as I am concerned each of these cases make a mockery of the true intent of this law..to me this law is intended to protect an individual, their family and property from a threatening person..that to me means someone trying to break into a home, a vehicle, etc…where the owner and his/her family are…or someone attacking or following an individual and/or his/her family..
    Apparently, I take the law literally as it is written and these lawyers and judges feel they can apply their own twist…since when is it standing your ground to go up to a SUV to buy drugs and then shoot the dealer…
    or when someone walks in front of you vehicle and that give you the right to shoot them..
    The law is meant to be used as it has been in Oklahoma..when intruders are killed breaking into a home with the intent to do harm to the person inside..I have heard of three women who were able to protect themselves because of the stand your ground law..
    these idiots who misuse the law are going to ruin it for everyone!

  • LKM

    As far as I am concerned each of these cases make a mockery of the true intent of this law..to me this law is intended to protect an individual, their family and property from a threatening person..that to me means someone trying to break into a home, a vehicle, etc…where the owner and his/her family are…or someone attacking or following an individual and/or his/her family..
    Apparently, I take the law literally as it is written and these lawyers and judges feel they can apply their own twist…since when is it standing your ground to go up to a SUV to buy drugs and then shoot the dealer…
    or when someone walks in front of you vehicle and that give you the right to shoot them..
    The law is meant to be used as it has been in Oklahoma..when intruders are killed breaking into a home with the intent to do harm to the person inside..I have heard of three women who were able to protect themselves because of the stand your ground law..
    these idiots who misuse the law are going to ruin it for everyone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    The Joe Horn case is not covered under Stand Your ground but Castle Doctrine an the same applies to the Bo Morrison case. You may want to check with a knowledgeable lawyer before writing your next attack piece on SYG.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    One more thing: “Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law….”
    Actually Stand Your Ground has been in the books for over a century, in fact both California and NY State had (and still have) the law long before Florida enacted it.

    Beard v. United States – 158 U.S. 550 (1895) “… the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm, he
    was not obliged to retreat nor to consider whether he could safely
    retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground and meet any attack made
    upon him with a deadly weapon in such way and with such force as, under
    all the circumstances, he at the moment, honestly believed, and had
    reasonable grounds to believe, were necessary to save his own life or to
    protect himself from great bodily injury……”

    This decision was later confirmed by another case:
    Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335 (1921)
    “The law has grown, and even if historical mistakes have contributed to
    its growth it has tended in the direction of rules consistent with human
    nature. Many respectable writers agree that if a man reasonably
    believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm
    from his assailant he may stand his ground and that if he kills him he
    has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self defence. That has been the
    decision of this Court. Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.”

  • Lawyer

    The problem is that Miguel Gonzalez is not a lawyer, but a “gun safety Instructor” who, by his own admission is not that bright, and not a lawyer.

    He neglects that Joe Horn actually mentions the stand your ground law before committing murder

    He also misstates the facts of the two Supreme Court cases he mentions:

    Beard v. United States – 158 U.S. 550 (1895)

    Syllabus

    A man assailed on his own grounds, without provocation, by a person armed with a deadly weapon and apparently seeking his life is not obliged to retreat, but may stand his ground and defend himself with such means as are within his control; and so long as there is no intent on his part to kill his antagonist, and no purpose of doing anything beyond what is necessary to save his own life, is not guilty of murder or manslaughter if death results to his antagonist from a blow given him under such circumstances.

    And

    Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335 (1921)

    Syllabus

    The right of a man to stand his ground and defend himself when attacked with a deadly weapon, even to the extent of taking his assailant’s life, depends upon whether he reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant, and not upon the detached test whether a man of reasonable prudence, so situated, might not think it possible to fly with safety or to disable his assailant, rather than kill him.

    These are not the current “Stand Your Ground Laws”, but follow the common law rule that there was an immenent threat of death or serious bodily injury the force used was only that necessary to stop the threat.

    Modern “stand your ground laws” do not require any reasonableness test and allow the use of deadly force even if that force would be excessive.

    These laws are not reasonable, but allow for pardoning people who otherwise would have been charged and quite possibly found guilty.

  • questions

    The media leaves out a lot of facts. What exactly was Joe Horn acquitted of? Don’t know what the actual charges were, the article doesn’t say. Every one of these quick summaries leave out FACTS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    Actually on the 911 tapes, Joe Horn mentions the right to use deadly force to defend property as written in Texas law. That is Castle Doctrine and not Stand Your Ground.
    You may be using the nom de plume “Lawyer” but if a “not that bright” Firearms instructor catches you lying in less than 10 seconds, you are not doing a very good job as a lawyer.
    I do hope you are not representing clients.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    He was not acquired because he was never charged. Both criminals came into his property and even though he warned them, they continued moving and Mr. Horn opened fire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miguel-Gonzalez/1559615087 Miguel Gonzalez

    “Modern “stand your ground laws” do not require any reasonableness test
    and allow the use of deadly force even if that force would be excessive”
    Patently false.
    ——–

    Florida Statutes 776.013 (3)
    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    ———–

    776.08 Forcible felony.
    “Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive
    device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
    —————————————

  • Asmodeus Belial

    Incorrect, sir, at least with respect to the Horn case. The men he shot were neither in his house nor on his property; they were in his neighbor’s yard. I don’t imagine this’ll discourage you from continuing to spread disinformation on behalf of the gun lobby though.

  • Asmodeus Belial

    I hope you’re not actually instructing people to use firearms.

  • Asmodeus Belial

    Police confirmed that both victims were shot in the back, as they were moving AWAY from Horn. You should work a little harder at your propaganda. You do know the facts of the case are all over the place online, right? So you can’t just make stuff up and not get called on it.

  • Anonymous

    They were on his property, according to all of the articles and the report of the plain clothes detective who witnessed the shootings. They had entered his property from his neighbor’s property.

  • ches

    I actually heard the 911 tapes Joe horn was never in any danger. He observed two men stealing from his neighbour’s home. He did not want them to escape and despite the 911 operator telling him to stay in his home and put the gun down. He left his home and shot two unarmed burglars dead. In the UK where is live that is called murder

  • ches

    miguel if you “listened” to the 911 tapes you would have heard that joe horn’s home was not being invaded but the EMPTY HOME of his neighbour. Joe Horn was told to stay in his home he was not standing his ground he went outside and murdered two people. Is the penalty for burglery in the US instant death????. Joe Horn got away with murder much in the same way white people in the US escaped jail for lynchings

  • Ches

    did you listen to joe horn on the 911 tapes. I live in the UK and heard Joe Horn state that his neighbour was being burgled and he didn’t want the burglars to escape. Please stop trying to change the FACTS

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I did listen to the 9/11 tapes, however, the report filed by the police was that the dead men were found on Joe Horn’s property, a factual circumstance that corroborates his statement during the call that the men came towards him onto his property, and he feared for his life. While he may have called the police WHILE the men were on the neighbor’s property and not his own, during that call, the men left the neighbor’s property and entered Mr Horns. I’m not sure why you are so intent on sticking to something that isn’t true.

  • jerry

    stay in the UK

  • Ashley

    It is important to mention the case in Louisiana involved gang related activity and the 15 yr old who was killed was in a car with 6 other teens who were aguing with the 21 year old who shot into the car in self defense. I am firmly against stand your ground but I believe misrepresenting these incedidents does not help the cause. Also I believe in LA you must be in your home, place of business, or car to use stand your ground as a defense and it does not extend to public places.

  • David Powell

    There is a reason we ran you Britts out of this country… so we dont have to put up with your shit anymore. stay in UK and mind your business. we dont give a rats ass about England and we hope you would feel the same about us. “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6! America!”

  • Will Hudson

    He should have let them go so they could keep breaking into homes until they broke into an occupied home and killed someone, would that make you liberals happy? I myself know of several incidences of people that were killed during a robbery of their home. You should have the right to defend yourself, your property and your neighbors property. You should not be able to commit a crime and then turn your back and have the law protect you. Our laws all to often favor and protect criminals and let them repeatedly victimize others. If you are breaking into someones home or have broken into someones home you should have no protection and no recourse if you are injured or killed. Our laws should never give an advantage to criminals.

  • Anonymous

    You’re an idiot, and I’m an American telling you that.

  • US Citizen

    Ur really stupid if your that ignorant.

  • paolo cherubino

    Half-wits like Joe Horn do more to harm the natural right to self defense than any anti-gun activist. People have the right to protect themselves with deadly force when they are immediately and physically threatened and NOT when they want to prove a point. People like Joe Horn have no more respect for life than the people they murder. Now people who don’t understand this violent world will have plenty of ground to stand on as they try to take away our ability to defend ourselves.