A Monroe County Circuit judge sentenced a Louisiana man to 18 years in state prison for shooting three tourists he didn't know when he fired his gun into the crowded streets of Key West.
Judge Luis Garcia said Wednesday afternoon that it was only "by the grace of God" none of the three men shot by Derek David, 36, in the early morning of March 21, 2016, died.
"He fired without a care, spraying an area and could have ended many souls," Garcia said.
David fired four bullets down a side street and into bustling Duval Street around 1 a.m., wounding the three men. Two were shot in the leg. One was shot through the forearm and the bullet entered his abdomen.
Defense attorney Donald Barrett said during the trial that David was acting in self defense and thought he was protecting his wife, Jodie David, after he was beaten up by two men who ran up behind the couple on Charles Street to separate them as they argued and shoved each other.
The Davids, who lived in Sugarloaf Key at the time, were out for a date night and Derek wanted to go home after Jodie became intoxicated.
The two men, who were never identified by police, punched David to the ground, apparently thinking he was beating Jodie. Derek David tried unsuccessfully to fight back.
"He set out that night to have a good time with his wife, and not to hurt anyone," Barrett said.
None of the men David shot was involved in fight, and he waited until minutes after the last punch was thrown to begin firing down Charles Street, which runs perpendicular to Duval.
Two of the victims — Scott McBride and Reid Ogden — were struck as they walked along Duval Street. The other man, Brendan Boudreau, was hit from behind in the leg as he ran away when he saw David pull his .380 Ruger pistol from the waistband of his shorts.
Boudreau, 27, and his friend, Trent Pauls, both tourists from Louisiana, were having a smoke outside of Irish Kevin's bar when they heard the Davids fighting. Both Boudreau and Pauls testified during the February trial that they followed the couple down Charles to make sure Jodie David was not harmed.
Police found a fourth bullet lodged in a poster frame hanging outside of Irish Kevin's.
David, pleading for mercy from Garcia Wednesday, apologized to the victims for the first time since his arrest, saying he did not realize at the time Boudreau and Paul were not part of the pair that attacked him.
"Mr. Boudreau, please forgive me," David said, reading from a prepared statement. "I now know you were not involved with the men who assaulted me."
Boudreau was not at the hearing, but sent a letter to Garcia asking him to sentence David the maximum punishment, which was 48 years.
It turns out, not only were Boudreau and Paul not attacking him, but Jodie David was hitting them after her husband's fight. Video shown during the February trial shows they were trying to get away from her. Jodie David said her drunken behavior that night is the root of everything that went wrong.
"It is my actions and my behavior that night why things unfolded the way they did," she told Garcia.
One of the victims, Scott McBride, spoke via speaker phone from Daytona Beach, saying David's apologies ring hollow.
"Until today, he has not taken responsibility for anything," McBride said, noting that the bullet that struck Irish Kevin's whizzed inches from his girlfriend's head.
"I still wake up with nightmares thinking how easily that bullet could have killed her," said McBride.
'Stand Your Ground'
The case was closely watched by attorneys statewide in light of recent competing interpretations of changes made to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law last summer.
A judged turned down David's lawyers' motion to obtain immunity from prosecution under the controversial self-defense law in February 2017, five months before Gov. Rick Scott signed an amended law placing the burden of proof for self defense on prosecutors. When the law was originally passed in 2005, the defense had to make the case.
The law eliminates a person's requirement to retreat before using deadly force in the face of a perceived imminent threat.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal, based in Lakeland, ruled on May 7 that the change was retroactive and applied to all defendants arguing "Stand Your Ground." Garcia said he had no choice but to vacate David's March 1 conviction and grant him a new "Stand Your Ground" hearing.
But just a week later, the 3rd District Court of Appeal, with direct jurisdiction over Monroe County, ruled the changes applied only to cases pending after Scott signed the changes to the law in June 2017. Garcia then reinstated David's conviction and scheduled the sentencing date to Wednesday.
Barrett said Wednesday that the Florida Supreme Court is likely to take up the matter. Depending on what is decided, that court could "turn this case on its head,'' he said.
In the meantime, Barrett filed an appeal with the 3rd District, and Garcia granted David a $700,000 appeals bond. As of Thursday morning, he had yet to post bond and was in county jail.