Florida Keys

Closely watched 'Stand Your Ground' shooting case now in the hands of Keys judge

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 Monroe County circuit court judge is scheduled to sentence a Louisiana man to prison Wednesday who shot three men he never met firing into a street crowded with tourists two years ago.

The case is being closely watched because it was affected by two recent competing appellate court rulings on changes made last summer to Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law.

Specifically, the change switched the burden of proof for self defense in "Stand Your Ground" cases from the defendant to the prosecution. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the amended law in June 2017.

In May, one appellate court ruled the changes were retroactive to all Stand Your Ground cases. But only a week later, another court ruled that the amended law applied only to cases pending after it was signed by Scott. The competing opinions are almost certain to be settled by the Florida Supreme Court.

Derek David, 35, was convicted March 1 on three counts of attempted manslaughter. He said he fired his weapon to protect himself and his wife. A year earlier, a Monroe County judge rejected his attorney's argument that he should be immune from prosecution under "Stand Your Ground," a 2005 law that eliminates a person's requirement to retreat before using deadly force in the face of a perceived imminent threat.

After the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland ruled May 7 that the amended law applied retroactively to all Stand Your Ground cases, Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia said he had no choice but to vacate David's conviction and grant him a new hearing seeking immunity from prosecution.

But only a week later, the Third District Court of Appeal, with direct jurisdiction over Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, ruled that the amended law was not retroactive. Garcia reinstated the conviction on May 29 and set a sentencing date.

David fired three shots from his Ruger .380 handgun around 1 a.m. March 21, 2016, after being beaten up by two men who ran up behind him and forcibly separated him from his wife. David and Jodie Derek were shoving each other on Charles Street as Derek was trying to get Jodie back to their then-home on Sugarloaf Key after a night of drinking he thought went on too long.

But, none of the men who ended up getting shot was involved in the fight.

Two were bystanders walking along Duval Street, which runs perpendicular to Charles Street. And the other victim, who with a friend followed the Dereks down Charles Street to make sure Jodie Derek was not harmed, was hit in the back of the leg as he ran when the shots from David's pistol rang out.

The sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Monroe County Courthouse on Plantation Key.

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