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Stand your ground defense denied in homicide case

A Florida man charged in the deaths of two of his neighbors received a setback in his defense after a judge denied him immunity. He will now have to move forward in the homicide trial and structure a defense against the allegations that he killed two people in cold blood. The death of those two men followed what appears to be years of tensions within a Titusville neighborhood.

The man accused in the deaths is a Gulf War veteran who served four years in the Army. He testified in court that he is disabled and that he suffers from PTSD. Prior to the recent tensions with other families within his neighborhood, the man and his family were reportedly close to those same individuals. The families were all friendly, and their children played together.

A series of events led to the rising tensions. Things began to change after a package went missing from a front porch, followed by parking disputes and complaints about chickens being raised in one yard. Soon threats were made in all directions. By 2012, those tensions erupted in a late-night shooting in which three men were shot, and only one survived.

Within the immunity hearing, some of the man's neighbors testified about the threats and harassment that the family received leading up to the incident. However, the Florida judge ruled that the shootings were not based on any immediate threat of harm and could not be justified under the Stand Your Ground law. This means that the homicide trial will move forward. The man's defense attorney has stated that he will continue to focus in future hearings on the PTSD diagnosis and the harassment that the family endured.

Source: ABC News, "How This Florida Neighborhood Dispute Ended With Two People Dead", Andrew Paparella and Alexa Valiente, Aug. 6, 2015

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