From Arizona To Florida, Stand Your Ground Ends In Manslaughter

[UPDATE: Cordell Jude sentencing scheduled for January 8, 2014 has been postponed to February 28. 2014]

In many of the cases where stand your ground immunity was claimed, it was later denied, a murder charge reduced to manslaughter or dropped, and a manslaughter conviction was successful.

Just because there’s a stand your ground law in your state doesn’t mean you can just kill another person and not go to prison for it. Historically, long before “stand your ground” (“no duty to retreat”) came into play, the law in every U.S. state would appear to have still warranted at least a manslaughter conviction in many cases where an unarmed person was killed.

Although state laws can vary on sentencing, manslaughter was the final verdict recently, in the cases of Cordell Jude, who killed Daniel Adkins, Jr. in Arizona, and Quentin Wyche, who killed Kendall Berry in Florida. Neither victim was armed.

Both cases, connected to the web of situations involving stand your ground laws, and over 2300 miles apart, went to court this month, with a conviction in Arizona and sentencing in Florida.

Kendall Berry
Kendall Berry

Kendall Berry, 22, was a star sophomore running back at Florida International University. They may not have even realized they had played together in the same kids’ football league or pickup basketball games.

But on March 25, 2010, they tangled on the FIU campus over Berry’s girl. Wyche had smashed a cookie in her face earlier that day, because she wouldn’t give him a ride on the campus golf-cart shuttle she drove.

Quentin Wyche
Quentin Wyche

Berry, with several football teammates, confronted Wyche, who ran away, with Berry following. As Berry caught up with him, Wyche pulled a pair of scissors from his backpack, said something like “I’m gonna get you”, or “kill you”, according to witnesses, and lunged back at Berry, causing his death.

Wyche claimed immunity under Florida’s stand your ground law, but it was later denied. He was convicted of manslaughter in September. Last week, on November 25, Wyche, now 25 years old, was sentenced to 20 1/2 years in prison.

Dale Akins
Daniel Adkins. Jr.

On April 3, 2012, Daniel Adkins, Jr., a 29 year-old disabled Hispanic-American man, was walking his dog in Phoenix, Arizona when Cordell Jude, then 22 years-old, an African-American driving with his 8-months pregnant girlfriend, pulled out of a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Jude told police he slammed on his brakes as he almost hit Adkins walking across the parking lot exit. He said Adkins shouted something at him, then approached and hit his car with something that looked like a bat or pipe. Jude claimed he fired a gun he kept in his lap as Adkins was about to swing at him again. The only object found on Adkins was a dog leash.

Jude was later charged with 2nd degree murder. On November 20, he was found not guilty of second degree murder but convicted of reckless manslaughter in what is called “reverse Trayvon Martin” case. He faces 7 to 21 years in prison when he is sentenced on January 8, 2014.

Cordell Jude
Cordell Jude

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72 Year-Old Man With Alzheimer’s Killed After Ringing Bell At Wrong House

WALKER COUNTY, Ga – In another example of “stand your ground” law gone wrong, a 72 year-old man suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease who had wandered away from his home was shot four times and killed early Wednesday after ringing the doorbell and turning a doorknob at a home in Georgia.

This is the second reported case this month of someone being killed after approaching a home in the middle of the night. On November 2, 19 year-old Renisha Mcbride was shot and killed in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

The man, Ronald Westbrook, of Walker County, who had one or two dogs with him, apparently wandered three miles away from a home he shared with his wife, who did not know he was gone until contacted by police. Suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, Westbrook was wearing only a light jacket and straw hat in sub-freezing temperatures.

Georgia stand your ground vicitim Ronald Westbrook
Ronald Westbrook

He was killed about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning by Joe Hendrix, 34, who, apparently thinking it was an intruder, went outside with a .40 caliber handgun to investigate, as his fiancée was on the phone with police. They had just moved into the home, at the end of a cul-de-sac, a few weeks ago.

Hendrix claimed Westbrook approached him, ignoring several commands to stop, and that he fired four times, killing Westbrook with a shot to the chest. Reports are that Westbrook had been diagnosed with dementia two years ago and was mute due to the Alzheimer’s.

Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, who was personally acquainted with Westbrook through church services, said the victim was likely lost and confused. He also said that, though he thinks Hendrix should not have gone outside the house, it doesn’t appear he violated any laws.

Hendrix has not been charged as an investigation of the shooting continues. Georgia has a stand your ground law – the “no duty to retreat” – which may justify the shooting. The district attorney must decide whether the case fits the criteria for stand your ground.

“We reserve our options and rights to file charges once the investigation is complete, if we feel like Georgia law warrants charges being filed,” Wilson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition recently filed a lawsuit against Georgia challenging the state’s stand your ground law.


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Happy Thanksgiving! Marissa Alexander Free On Bond

Marissa Alexander, a Florida mom who fired a warning shot at an abusive husband, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, only to be granted a new trial, is free on bond and home with family – in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

Marissa Alexander
Marissa Alexander

After a bond hearing, Alexander – who has served almost three years of the sentence handed down in 2010, was released on three bonds – one for each of her charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon – totalling $200,000 – just before midnight. She is under house arrest.

State Attorney General Angela Corey released a statement earlier this month stating that her office “will continue to seek justice for our two child victims and their father who were endangered by the shot the defendant fired at them.”

Supporters had hoped that Corey would drop the case against the 33 year-old mother of three who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. Her sentencing produced an uproar by women’s rights groups and she became an iconic symbol for those against domestic violence.

Alexander was released with special conditions, according to court records, most not unlike any other felony case.

She will be under supervision of the Pretrial Services Program (PSP) with electronic monitoring on house arrest, and is not allowed to leave her home except for medical emergencies, court appearances, or request by the PSP.

Of course, Alexander is ordered (again) not to have any contact whatsoever with Rico Gray or his two boys. Since she is still going through divorce proceedings, all orders pertaining to those proceedings will be facilitated by an unnamed third party.

Alexander is not allowed to possess or be near any firearms, cannot consume any alcohol or drugs, and is subject to random drug testing and warrantless searches.

She was granted a new trial in September, then moved from state prison to Duval County in October. However, the judge at that time only granted a new trial date of March 31, 2014, but denied her bond, disappointing supporters.

Marissa Alexander and daughter
Marissa Alexander and daughter

This Movement to End Stand Your Ground supports the movement to free Marissa Alexander and celebrates her release on bond, since her case exemplifies misapplication of stand your ground laws. Based upon the case history, it would appear that Alexander originally would have deserved to have been granted immunity from prosecution under Florida’s stand your ground law, but she was denied immunity.

Happy Thanksgiving, Marissa!
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Can Renisha Mcbride Killer Claim Stand Your Ground Defense?

A common thread in many of the cases where a person claimed a stand your ground defense after killing an innocent, unarmed person, is that there is usually no other defense for the killer to stand on. The killer of Renisha Mcbride will likely not claim stand your ground.

A pretty young African-American woman, 19 year-old Mcbride, a 2012 Southfield High School graduate, had wrecked her 2004 Ford Taurus in the early morning hours of November 2. She apparently walked into the suburban neighborhood of predominantly white Dearborn Heights, Michigan looking for help. It’s not clear why she could not use a cell phone to call for help.

Renisha Mcbride
Renisha Mcbride

Mcbride was shot in the head at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun after banging on a door at the home of Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, now charged with manslaughter, second-degree murder, and felony use of a firearm in her death.

Toxicology reports show McBride had a blood alcohol content of 0.218%, more than twice the legal limit, and a trace amount of marijuana in her body when she walked up on Wafer’s porch. Wafer reportedly claimed he thought it was a burglar and that the shotgun discharged by accident.

Theodore Paul Wafer
Theodore Paul Wafer (Dearborn Heights Police Dept.)

The state of Michigan does have a “stand your ground” law – a self-defense statute that includes the “no duty to retreat” clause.

However, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has already dismissed the notion of a stand your ground defense. “The evidence will show that self-defense was not warranted,” Worthy said.

“Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat in your own home; however, someone who claims self-defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm”, said Worthy.

Many people are comparing this incident to the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, an African-American former college football player killed in North Carolina by police under similar circumstances in September after his car broke down.

Jonathan Ferrell
Jonathan Ferrell

Before anyone goes further in the discussion of SYG as it applies to the Renisha Mcbride case, or a crusade to use this as a prudent stand your ground case, it’s wise to acknowledge that this should not be construed as a stand your ground situation. There are many other cases with circumstances that clearly afford the claim. Caution should be used before any presumptions of the shooter’s intent.

While the McBride shooting simply exemplifies the danger of stand your ground laws, her killer has not claimed a stand your ground defense as immunity from prosecution for a justifiable homicide. And self-defense in your home – where you have the right to be – is automatically afforded universally under Castle Doctrine.

Wafer’s attorneys may possibly try to secure the stand your ground option, but it would be a foolish move. He did, in fact, use the indoctrinated “no duty to retreat”. Yet there is no indication he was ever faced with the threat of injury or death from Renisha Mcbride, and has not claimed the perceived fear nor premise necessary to secure a stand your ground defense.

Initial police report from November 2, 2013:

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Jordan Davis Remembered, One Year Later

It would be easy for someone who wasn’t affected by the murder of Jordan Davis one year ago to ignore the legacy his death is destined to leave behind. But on this one year anniversary of the night the young African-American teenager was gunned down, many people are still grieving and waiting for justice.

Today in Jacksonville, Florida, loud music blared across Latham Plaza in remembrance as family, friends, and others gathered for a vigil to celebrate the life of a young man gone too soon.

Florida 'stand-your-ground" victim Jordan Davis
Jordan Davis

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving last year, the 17 year old was gunned down as he sat in an SUV with friends at a Jacksonville gas station. The shooter, Michael Dunn, claimed he felt threatened after getting into an argument over loud music pumping from the SUV. He is expected to invoke stand your ground immunity.

Jordan Davis’ mother, Lucia Mcbath, and father, Ron Davis, have been on a non-stop crusade to bring about a repeal or changes to stand your ground laws, as they look forward to Michael Dunn’s trial, set for February 3 next year.

Mcbath, now the national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action, recently testified before the U.S. Senate and both parents spoke to Florida’s House of Representatives at hearings on stand your ground laws.

Mcbath says she wants his legacy to be that “everyone has a right to live freely, without fear”. You can honor the life of Jordan Davis by signing the petition to repeal stand your ground laws.
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Despite Protests Ohio Set To Be Next Stand Your Ground State

Ohio state lawmakers, despite months of multiple protests, demonstrations, and thousands of signatures on petitions, are poised to enact sweeping changes that expand the state’s self defense laws and eliminate a duty to retreat, a primary factor that creates dangerous stand your ground laws.

By a vote of 62 to 27, the Ohio House of Representatives this week voted in favor of HB 203, and passed it to the state Senate for approval.

The new legislation would expand no duty to retreat to include anywhere a person has a right to be in Ohio, effectively creating a form of stand your ground law in the state.

All American states have some sort of self-defense laws. Currently, as in other states, Ohio residents, under current Castle Doctrine, have no duty to retreat in their homes or vehicles. While HB 203 doesn’t include the words “stand your ground”, it implies it.

Ohio residents have been outspoken in their stance against HB 203.  Akron, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, South Euclid and Toledo had all filed resolutions opposing the bill. On the opening day of the Ohio Legislative Session last month several student, labor, political and clergy groups held rallies, protests, lobbied legislators and delivered petitions and municipal resolutions opposing HB 203.

That day also brought out tension from both sides of the polarized debate, as opponents of the HB 203 were met by handfuls of gun-toting proponents. Some proponents say the bill is unfairly being called a “stand your ground” law when it is what they claim only an enhancement of current state gun laws.

Opponents assert that Ohio doesn’t need stand-your-ground, and believe the proposed law isn’t about self-defense, but is instead about a fear of black people – going beyond the state’s current self-defense laws – and allows for the killing of unarmed people.

Opponents also claim it promotes violence, and has no place in their state. State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Columbus) recently said, “Stand Your Ground would do nothing but turn our state into the Wild, Wild West.”

Ohio opponents of stand your ground law (photo credit: OHHouseDems/twitter)
Ohio opponents of stand your ground law

It currently requires 12 hours of firearm training to get a concealed-carry permit in Ohio; under HB 203 that would be cut to 4 hours. Proponents argue it would make it financially easier to get a permit. Opponents argue it would be inadequate training.

The new gun law would also make Ohio automatically recognize concealed weapon permits issued by any state that recognizes Ohio’s permits; and bring the state into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, so anyone with a state gun licenses can automatically buy a gun without a background check.

The two-hour House session this week was briefly interrupted by a courageous group of protesters who shouted, sang, hung a banner over a balcony, and chanted   “O-H-I-O, stand your ground has got to go” as they were escorted out (video courtesy of Mark Kovac, CapitalOhioBlog).

KKK In African-American ‘Hood Could Incite Stand Your Ground

Editorial cartoon
great job by cartoonist Mike Peters, Dayton Daily News
A Ku Klux Klan group from North Carolina distributed recruitment flyers in New Smyrna Beach, Florida recently, surprising residents of a neighborhood which is predominantly African-American, reports WFTV.

The  KKK group claimed they randomly picked the neighborhood, and that the effort in this neighborhood was an “accident”, but any organization distributing materials would usually know their target market.

Many African-Americans are familiar with the violent history of the KKK and with Florida’s well-publicized stand your ground law.

A provocative incident like this would seem to have the potential to become explosively ill-timed, should a neighborhood resident with no duty to retreat be provoked by a member of the group and feel threatened.

A similar incident was reported in Illinois last month. Do you think the scenario of the KKK in African-American neighborhoods has the possibility to cause a stand your ground incident?


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Florida Lawmakers Kill Stand Your Ground Repeal Bill At Hearing

At a hearing on last Thursday, Florida lawmakers gave some young people a slap in the face, voting 11-2 against a bill calling for a full repeal of the state’s stand your ground law.

The Florida House of Representatives also gave some attendees the impression they had come into the hearing with their minds already made up that they would shoot down SB 4003, a bill introduced by State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee).

Florida stand your ground repeal hearing Nov. 7 2013
Stand Your Ground Hearing at Florida Capitol (photo by EasyG for endstandyourground)

The lawmakers questioned Williams at length during the five-hour hearing, with much grilling coming from Chairman Matt Gaetz, who sometimes appeared to try to ridicule Williams’ attempts to sell the bill. Gaetz has been infamously quoted as saying he will not change “one damn comma” of Florida’s stand your ground law.

Williams insisted that his bill would simply cause the state’s current self-defense law to revert to its original form, what he called “common law” that existed before the 2005 legislation which enacted stand your ground law.

Gaetz used the opportunity draw an analogy between stand your ground with Williams’ common law, referring to the two as “buckets of laws”, one with more self-defense rights (stand your ground), and the other with less rights. He questioned which would be more preferable to someone who had the urgency to defend themselves.

The Webster Room in Florida’s Capitol was almost filled to capacity with about an equal amount of polarized HB 4003 proponents like the Dream Defenders, and opponents like NRA members occupying opposite sides of the room.

“Remember November” were the words used by Dream Defenders leader Philip Agnew as he spoke at the hearing. He was referring to next year’s state elections, when legislators seeking re-election face this new young breed of voters. Teenagers as young as 14 years-old spoke in favor of a repeal.

The lawmakers also heard from Lucia Mcbath, mother of stand your ground victim Jordan Davis, as she made another impassioned plea calling for changes in the law. She had appeared days earlier at a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground.

Ron Davis, the teenager’s father, also called for changes, and the House heard from attorney Daryl Parks, representing Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin, who were not at the hearing.

Gun advocate Marion Hammer, a past president of the NRA,  made a short statement, purporting that “stand your ground is a good law”, and many other gun advocates spoke out against the repeal bill, or waived their chance to speak in opposition.

Before the lawmakers even voted on Williams’ bill, several in the proponent camp appeared to believe that the House would vote against the repeal. Agnew, the Dream Defenders leader, said, “It’s not over. We’ll just regroup and come back stronger next time.”

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Pack The House

A crucial event affecting stand your ground law takes place today, as Florida lawmakers consider a bill calling for a full repeal of the state’s stand your ground law.

Some people who support the law are seizing any opportunity to point out a division within the movement to end stand your ground. They see that there are some of us who want a full and complete repeal and others who simply want changes in the law.Pack The House

A House hearing starts at 3:00 p.m. in Webster Hall, 212 Knott Bldg. at the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee. Now is the time for those against stand your ground to come together, pack the house, and deliver a unified message. What, exactly, do we want?

The gun lobby would like people to believe that any attack on stand your ground laws is an attack on their Second Amendment rights. They could not be more wrong. It’s a proven and recorded fact that these laws have been the subject of abuse by criminals and others who try to manipulate the law. Since it is a law that is open to abuse, perhaps it should be completely repealed. That way, a new self-defense bill based on research and experience with the present form as it exists could be drafted.

On the other hand, simply changing certain statutes, especially as it pertains to the ambiguous “no duty to retreat” clause, inherent in stand your ground laws, may pacify some people who maintain this is the flash point.

Whatever options are available to alter or repeal stand your ground should, of course, be carefully looked at, and a clear, common goal will be evident for those who support stand your ground. NRA supporters want to pack their guns. Today, anyone against stand your ground should use a bus, a car, or any other means necessary to pack the house.

Stand Your Ground Hearings Highlight A Frenzy Of Activity

A new frenzy of activity involving stand your ground laws may soon have some gun-toting, second amendment quoting vigilante kooks shaking.

For the first time since neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Florida’s Senate recently held a hearing on changes to the state’s controversial stand-your-ground law, and new guidelines for deadly force and self-defense by neighborhood watch groups were approved by the state senate’s Judiciary Committee.

US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013
US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013

Then, last week, for the first time in history, the federal government held a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground laws in America.

A few days later, a new trial date was set for Marissa Alexander, the Florida victim of domestic violence who fired a warning shot into a wall, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Why didn’t stand your ground work for her?

Marissa Alexander

The day after Alexander’s status hearing, Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia in connection with two Georgia stand your ground cases.

This week, the next major hurdle takes place as a legislator in Florida leads a charge into the Florida House of Representatives to repeal stand your ground laws.

State Representative Alan Williams has introduced SB 4003, a bill calling for a full repeal of stand your ground laws in Florida. I received a call from his office a few days ago, urging a roundup of supporters for the bill at a state senate hearing before the House of Representatives in Tallahassee on Thursday, November 7th. Many opponents of stand your ground law, including the young activist group Dream Defenders, are expected to attend the hearing.

Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)
Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)

The resistance – to keep the law – is large, loud, and powerful. Williams wants his state, where it all started, to be the first to end stand your ground law. So far, most efforts to merely change the law in Florida have been blocked. But the movement to change the law is growing.

Both proponents and opponents can agree that stand your ground laws – as currently written – do not work. In fact, according to statistical research released by several groups, these laws do just the opposite of what they were intended to do,

Stand your ground laws expand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and long-established Castle Doctrine. These new laws are reportedly designed to give legal, law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves in the face of imminent death or injury – anywhere they have a right to be – without thinking first about how to defuse or get out of the situation (no duty to retreat).Florida Stand Your Ground Statute

That anywhere could literally be anywhere – a public place like a park, a school, an event, a niteclub, or at work. Or, in a private place, such as a back alley, in someone else’s home (as long as your’re invited), or at a private party. With a concealed-carry permit, you’re protected by the law – and whatever caliber steel you prefer, provided you can prove the imminent threat of death or injury by the other party.

Of course, a killer could still be charged with other crimes as a result, yet actually get away with murder, no time in jail, or less than the maximum sentence – because they claimed stand your ground immunity.

The Florida hearing on the bill to repeal is tomorrow. The NRA lobby is sure to be there. So the movement to end stand your ground laws must be larger, louder, and more powerful in order to jump this next hurdle.

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Panel At U.S. Senate Hearing Appears Against Stand Your Ground Laws

Last week, for the first time, the federal government held a hearing on stand your ground laws in America, with testimony that was riveting and sometimes emotional, as most of those on a nine-member panel testified against the laws.

US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013
US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013

The two hour hearing, entitled “Stand Your Ground Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”, by the Senate Judiciary Committee‘s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, was significant in itself, since each state in the union has it’s own laws on self defense, “shoot-first” and deadly force.

In every state that has a “stand your ground”-type provision, the law is similar, and universally includes a “no duty to retreat” imposed by these new laws, but vary in use of deadly force.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) at stand your ground hearing October 29, 2013
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)

Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) appeared to favor some type of federal legislation, although federal authority cannot dictate state laws on self-defense.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) emphasized this, even implicating there may be a “political agenda” behind the hearing. His cohort, Texas State Representative Louis Gourmet (R) echoed the sentiment that legislation on the laws must be left with the states.

But Durbin acknowledged the NRA-ALEC connection to stand your ground laws, and cited past or recent studies and reports which he said show that stand your ground law allowed “shooters to walk free in shocking situations. Durbin said the laws “emboldened those who carry guns to initiate confrontations which have ended up killing unarmed children, increase racial disparity,” and said, “it’s clear these laws often go too far in encouraging confrontations that escalate into deadly violence.”

Senator Ted Cruz at stand your ground hearing October 29, 2013
Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz, of course, defended stand your ground, expounding the benefits of the second amendment. He claims that doing away with the laws would take away the right to defend yourself on a public street.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) used the Trayvon Martin shooting as an example of racial profiling and said George Zimmerman was exonerated due to the laws, calling the laws unjust and biased.

Illinois State Representative Luis Guitterez (D) blamed the gun lobby on spreading an agenda of shoot first. and said he was shocked by the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the fact that no one was immediately arrested, and that there was no conviction.

Sybrina Fulton testifies at Senate stand your ground hearing
Sybrina Fulton, seated next to Prof. Ron Sullivan (r), testifies at Senate stand your ground hearing

Sybrina Fulton spoke about her son Trayvon, and said it is important that stand your ground is amended, saying “this law does not work” and that law enforcement and legal authorities should be contacted to do something about the laws.

Professor Ron Sullivan, Jr., Director of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute explained a correlation between stand your ground and violence, and spoke out against racial profiling and policing by citizens.

David Labahn, President of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, replaced William Meggs on the panel, and offered recommendations for reforms He said stand your ground provides “safe harbor” for criminals, and ties up the legal system with cases.

Ilya Shapiro, of CATO Institute, another proponent of the laws, defended stand your ground, while an opponent of the laws, John Lott, attempted to explain effects of racial disparities and gun laws on the outcome of incidents and statistics.

Lucia Mcbath testifies at US Senate hearing on stand your ground
Lucia Mcbath testifies at US Senate hearing on stand your ground

Yet it was Lucia Mcbath who gave the most riveting, emotional testimony, recounting the November incident last year which took the life of her son Jordan Davis. Mcbath, now the national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action, said she faces “the very real possibility that her son’s killer will walk free.”

Mcbath spoke of how the laws empower people like Michael Dunn – the man accused of gunning down her son – who she said had “no ground to stand”,  and said the law “declares open season on anyone we don’t trust for reasons we don’t even understand…in essence it allows any armed citizen to self-deputize themselves and establish their own definition of law and order…even the wild west had more stringent laws than what we have now.”

She appeared to break down, her voice cracking, as she spoke of how she never got to take Davis’ prom picture or see him graduate from high school and her memories of him. Lawmakers did not call on neither of the mothers for questioning.

WATCH THE WEBCAST HERE: http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?comm=judiciary&type=live&filename=judiciary102913

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Jesse Jackson Sues Georgia Over Stand Your Ground Law

Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition filed a lawsuit Friday against the state of Georgia challenging the state’s 2006 stand your ground law. It’s reportedly the beginning of a push to universally define the laws that exist in over 21 U.S. states. Jackson says the law is arbitrary and inconsistent, especially for people of color.

Jesse Jackson (Flickr photo by Eric Guo)
Jesse Jackson (Flickr photo by Eric Guo)

Jackson, flanked by members of two families from two spectrums of stand your ground shootings, who are also named as plaintiffs in the suit, held a press conference to announce the action.

James Christopher Johnson III, a 25 year-old African-American, was killed at a nightclub in March of this year by a man who later claimed stand your ground. Johnson was with his girlfriend when Adam Lee Edmondson, a 26 year-old white male, made an “inappropriate” gesture or look toward the girlfriend, causing an argument, which ended when a friend of Edmonson’s took him away.

The next night Johnson and his girl went back to the same club, and again Edmondson showed up, this time reportedly approaching Johnson’s girlfriend on a patio.  After Edmonson’s repeated advances, she asked friends to go get Johnson and security, who were inside the club.  Johnson came out, and pushed Edmonson, who pulled out a .40 caliber handgun, then shot and killed Johnson, who was unarmed. Edmonson was later acquitted under Georgia’s stand your ground law.

The other case included in the lawsuit is that of Herman Smith, Jr., 21, an African-American who was sentenced to life in the killing of Cardarius Stegall at a birthday party last November. reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith was standing with a man Stegall had threatened to shoot, and as Stegall walked toward them with a gun in his hand, Smith pulled out a gun and shot Stegall first. Despite claiming stand your ground, Smith was convicted of murder in August.

Another lawsuit against the state over the law that was filed last year by Georgia civil rights activist Rev. Markel Hutchins was dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff had not been injured as a result of the law.

After George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Jackson called for a boycott of Florida because of stand your ground laws.

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