Stand Your Ground


Trayvon Martin

The murder of Trayvon Martin has drawn people’s attention to a peculiar law that exists in Florida. Called the “Stand Your Ground” law, it states that one can use deadly force if “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony”. What I find disturbing about this law is that it diminishes the importance of objective truth. From a legal standpoint, what actually happened is no longer important, only what one person perceived to be happening.

A recent court case in Miami illustrates the problem:

    As critics assail Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the wake of the killing of an unarmed Miami Gardens teen in Sanford, a Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday cited the law in tossing out the case of a man who chased down a suspected burglar and stabbed him to death.

    Greyston Garcia was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Pedro Roteta, 26, whom he chased for more than a block before stabbing the man.

    The case illustrates the difficulty police and prosecutors statewide have experienced since the 2005 law eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat in the face of danger, putting the burden on a judge, not a jury, to decide whether the accused is immune from prosecution.

    In Sanford, police have cited the Stand Your Ground law in their decision not to arrest a neighborhood watch volunteer in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17. A Seminole County grand jury will decide on whether the man who shot Trayvon, George Zimmerman, 28, should face homicide charges.

You see, Garcia claimed that he thought Roteta was about to stab him.

A man chases another man down the street and stabs him to death, and a judge considers that to be “standing his ground”.

We are living in dark times.

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