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Criminal defense to center on stand your ground law

Florida residents may recall a violent episode that took place last year in a Wesley Chapel movie theater. The incident left one man dead, and another facing second-degree murder charges. As he prepares to address those charges in court, the retired police captain plans to invoke the "stand your ground" rule within his criminal defense.

The incident began when a 73-year-old retired police captain took issue with another movie theater patron's use of his cell phone during a movie. A 43-year-old man was in the theater with his wife, and was allegedly using his phone to text the person who was caring for his child while he was out at the movies. The two men exchanged words, but the younger man refused to stop using his phone.

What happened next is unclear. The retired officer asserts that the younger man threw something at him, and that he drew a weapon and fired shots in self defense. It has been reported that the material that was thrown was nothing more than popcorn. The older man was struck in the face, and claims that he was in fear for his own safety when he took action. He shot and killed the other man, and a bullet also grazed the man's wife, who was sitting next to him.   

The retired police captain was arrested, and must now defend against the second degree murder charges. If he wishes to mount a successful criminal defense using the stand your ground laws, he will need to convince the court that he was truly in fear for his life when he made the choice to fire a weapon at the other party. In looking at that claim, the Florida court will likely consider a wide range of evidence and testimony.

Source: deathandtaxesmag.com, "Retired cop uses 'stand your ground' defense after killing man who threw popcorn", Stefan Sirucek, Oct. 29, 2015

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