Prosecutors in Ocala, Florida have determined the March 22nd shooting death of 53-year-old Mark Penland by his wife was in an effort to protect her teenage son and therefore justified.
“Whether applying stand your ground or justifiable use of deadly force law, under the facts of this case, Dinkins-Penland was legally allowed to use deadly force based on a reasonable fear that her life, her mother’s life and certainly her son’s life were in danger,” according to the five-page document written by Assistant State Attorney Amy Berndt.
According to Berndt’s memo, on March 22, Dinkins-Penland allowed her son to invite a friend at their Ocala residence to celebrate her son’s 14th birthday. Other family members were also invited.
Mark Penland, who had been married to Michelle Dinkins-Penland for a little more than a year, was upset about something and went outside to grill chicken for himself and refused to go inside to sing happy birthday to his stepson.
When the teenage boy went outside, guests heard a “thump” and the boy’s friend alerted them to a fight.
Michelle and her mother rushed outside and witnessed Mark pinning the teen to the door and beating him, the memo states. The boy’s mother and grandmother got in between Mark and the child, but Penland grabbed his mother-in-law’s arm and threw her on the ground, then hit his wife in the eye.
The women screamed at him to stop hitting the boy, but Mark refused, telling them, “No, I’m going to kill him!”
That’s when Michelle, fearing he would indeed kill her son, got her .38-caliber revolver and fired two shots at her husband.
The son called 911 while his mother tried helping Penland. He was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where he died.
As the investigation unfolded, witnesses told authorities Penland suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from his time in the military and had taken various medications to treat the condition. Family and friends also confirmed he drank daily, which contributed to his violent tendencies.
Mark Penland’s own mother tried to have him committed for psychiatric evaluation under the Baker Act just one month prior to the shooting. That petition was denied, officials said.
It was also confirmed that Mark Penland had previously punched the boy so hard he cracked two ribs, although the incident was never reported. Mark Penland had threatened to kill the boy many times and, the memo states, his wife had even made a recording of him repeatedly threatening to kill her son.
The State Attorney’s Office memorandum states the wife and mother had a right to protect herself and her family, therefore no charges will be filed against her.
With such a lengthy and documented history of physical and verbal abuse, it’s sad that this child was forced to remain in the same home as this man for any length of time. Even though she didn’t see an option to leave sooner, I’m glad when push finally came to shove, his mother ultimately stepped up to end the abuse and save her son.