[Updated to include Cordell Jude sentencing]
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, 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.
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.
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, 2013 he was found not guilty of second degree murder but convicted of reckless manslaughter in what is called “reverse Trayvon Martin” case. In 2014 he was sentenced to a mitigated term of eight years’ imprisonment with ninety-nine days presentence incarceration credit. An appeal was later denied.
- Stand Your Ground In Action: Dead Men Can’t Talk (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Justice Denied: Bystander Killed, Man Freed By Stand Your Ground (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Man gets 20 years for killing FIU football player (miamiherald.com)
- Can Renisha Mcbride Killer Claim Stand Your Ground Defense? (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Stand your ground law needs clarification (miamiherald.com)