Lots of people lament “Stand Your Ground” laws as some unmitigated evil. They point to several high profile cases as “proof” that such laws are nothing but licenses to kill. They argue that all you have to do to get away with murder is say you were in fear of your life.
Unfortunately for both them and an Orlando, Florida man, that’s not the case.
The man accused of murdering her nephew, Devon Brown, is trying to get the case dropped. Court records filed by the public defender state Caswayne Williams reasonably believed that defending himself with force was necessary against Davon. But Sabrina disagrees.
Deputies say Davon was working at this Walmart gas station last year, when Williams, a former employee confronted him. They say an argument occurred and spilled into the parking lot where the deadly stabbing took place.
“He needs to pay for what he has done. He took a part of us, he took a part of my heart.”
Attorney Mark O’Mara calls this a self defense case, rather than stand your ground.
“It’s a self defense immunity hearing. Stand your ground only applies when you have an opportunity to retreat. In this case the facts seem to show, including the video tape and prior history that he was upset and went there for bad reasons. And if that means that he’s the initial aggressor, then he doesn’t get any of the benefits of the Florida statute,” he said.
It should be noted that Williams has tried to get the case dropped previously. Earlier this year, he tried to claim he wasn’t competent to stand trial. As we can see, that didn’t pan out for him either.
If critics of Stand Your Ground laws were right, Williams would walk. He’s already claimed that and guess what? He’s still looking at prison time.
The truth is, Stand Your Ground only works if, as O’Mara said, you have an opportunity to retreat. The law never came up at George Zimmerman’s trial because he didn’t have an opportunity to retreat. It was a pure self-defense case.
In this case, Williams claims he defended himself, but since he instigated the attack by showing up and confronting the victim, that defense goes out the window.
It doesn’t necessarily mean Williams didn’t defend himself. It just means that the controversial statute had no bearing on the case.
That’s what a lot of people don’t get. Self-defense is self-defense. Stand Your Ground only means you don’t have to try and get away from an attacker before defending yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.
But if you’re unable to retreat for any reason, it doesn’t apply. It also doesn’t apply if you start the fight in the first place. That, however, may work against a self-defense claim.
What people need to understand about Stand Your Ground is that it’s not nearly what has been presented by the media. It’s not a license to kill or some legalized hunting of minorities. It means that if confronted, you can’t be prosecuted for not trying to get away before acting to defend yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.
Mr. Williams here has learned that lesson, apparently.