Arkansas Shooting Highlights Importance Of Stand Your Ground Laws

ValynPi14 / Pixabay

While Stand Your Ground laws are controversial, they’re also incredibly important. The controversy comes from people not understanding what the law actually means and what it doesn’t. People think it’s a license to kill when really all it does is keep people from getting prosecuted for defending themselves. Removing a duty to retreat from an altercation means no one is going to second-guess you after the fact.

This is important because stuff like that does happen.

In fact, a man in Arkansas was just sentenced because he shot someone before the state had a Stand Your Ground law on the books.

A Lowell man who shot two men in Springdale, killing one, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on one count of second-degree murder.

Franklin Antonio Soto-Ramos, 23, was charged with one count of capital murder and one count of attempted capital murder in the shooting in a McDonald’s parking lot around 3 a.m. June 22, 2019. He was acquitted on both charges by a Washington County Circuit Court jury Thursday evening.

Soto-Ramos, who moved to Northwest Arkansas with relatives from Puerto Rico about three years ago, said he was scared for his life and the lives of friends who were with him. Matt Durrett, Washington County prosecutor, argued that shooting the two men wasn’t reasonable or justified.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated more than four hours before finding Soto-Ramos guilty of the lesser charge of murder in the second degree in the death of Carlos Alexander Ascencio.

Police found Ascencio, 18, and Juan Carlos Bahena-Garcia, 20, with gunshot wounds in the parking lot of a McDonald’s on Robinson Avenue. Ascencio was pronounced dead at the scene, while Bahena-Garcia was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries but survived.

Ascencio was struck by one bullet, which hit him in the right side of the chest and passed through both lungs, his heart and exited through his back. Bahena-Garcia was hit multiple times in the abdomen and right arm.

Arkansas didn’t have a stand-your-ground law at the time of the shootings but has since enacted one. Durrett said that wouldn’t have been a factor in this case.

“I wasn’t arguing with the self-defense claim. My argument wasn’t that he wasn’t entitled to it because he didn’t retreat,” Durrett said.

Of course, based on the actual quote, it looks like the paper got it wrong. Stand Your Ground would have played a factor. After all, the prosecutor himself notes that it was likely self-defense, but because he didn’t retreat, he is now a convicted murderer.

Soto-Ramos did what any of us were likely to do. He protected the lives of himself and the people he cared about. He put down the threat and defended the lives of his friends.

But because he didn’t try to get away first–something he may not have even realized was possible, much less required–his live has been destroyed.

Let’s face it, a convicted murder conviction, even for second-degree murder, will screw you up for life. No more guns, for one thing, but he’ll also have trouble finding a job doing much of anything worth a damn. Life as he knew it is over, all because the state didn’t pass a Stand Your Ground law until after he shot someone.

Don’t think Stand Your Ground laws are important? This is why you’re wrong.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET