Florida Keys

Latest 'Stand Your Ground' ruling means Key West shooter is headed back to prison

Derek David of Louisiana is captured on security video brandishing a gun on Charles Street on March 21, 2016, and firing toward people on Duval Street. He says he was defending himself and his wife from strangers who started fighting them.
Derek David of Louisiana is captured on security video brandishing a gun on Charles Street on March 21, 2016, and firing toward people on Duval Street. He says he was defending himself and his wife from strangers who started fighting them.

A Louisiana man given a reprieve on attempted manslaughter charges because of an appellate court's interpretation of Florida's Stand Your Ground law is now back in jail because of another court's more recent ruling on the controversial self-defense law.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia reinstated Derek David's March 1 conviction Tuesday on three counts of attempted manslaughter. He shot three men he did not know March 21, 2016, on the streets of Key West with a .380 Ruger pistol after he was beaten up by two men who intervened in a fight he was having with his wife.

None of the men shot were involved in the confrontation. One of the victims said he followed the couple that night down Charles Street out of concern for David's wife, Jodie David. The two other victims were oblivious to the fight and were hit as they walked down Duval Street, which runs perpendicular to Charles.

Two months after a jury found him guilty of attempted manslaughter, David, who claimed self defense and said he fired the shots to protect himself and Jodie, got a break in the form of a May 4 ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.

Stand Your Ground, passed in 2005, eliminates a person's requirement to retreat before using deadly force to stop what he or she perceives to be a violent threat. Gov. Rick Scott signed an amended version of the law last June that switched the burden of proving self defense from the defense to the prosecution.

The 2nd Court of Appeal ruled in May the amended version applies to all cases pending before Scott signed the law. David's attorneys, Dustin Hunter and Donald Barrett, argued unsuccessfully in front of Judge Wayne Miller in February 2017 that David was immune from prosecution under Stand Your Ground.

But because of the appellate court decision, Garcia said May 7 he had no choice but to vacate David's conviction and grant him a new Stand Your Ground hearing. Only a week later, the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, which has direct jurisdiction over Monroe County, ruled the revision made by the Legislature was constitutional. But, the court said, it applied only to cases pending after Scott signed the amended law last summer.

David was re-arrested May 11 and released after posting $240,000 bond. Garcia Tuesday remanded him back into custody and he is scheduled to be sentenced on the attempted manslaughter charges June 6.

Because of the competing appellate court decisions, the state Supreme Court is almost certain to take up the case soon, Dustin said Tuesday. The court already has asked attorneys in Stand Your Ground cases to submit briefs.

Hunter argued unsuccessfully Tuesday that Garcia should allow his client to remain free on bond until the Supreme Court makes its decision, because whatever happens "is going to affect Mr. David's case one way or the other."

What some call the “castle doctrine” is ensconced in the law: If someone breaks or is breaking into your home, you can shoot them, legally, as long as you “reasonably” believe such force is required to stop the “unlawful entry into or attack upon

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