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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Despite reality, Pinellas County lawmakers say Trayvon Martin case unrelated with 'stand your ground' law



Don't expect a push to repeal the so-called "stand your ground" law to come from Pinellas County.

Nine of the county's state lawmakers were put on the spot at Wednesday's Tiger Bay luncheon at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater.

St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton asked, in light of the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, do lawmakers plan on repealing the so-called "stand your ground" law that passed in 2005 and could be used in the defense of George Zimmerman?

Despite reams of evidence to the contrary, most of the lawmakers said the law doesn't apply in the case.

"The media has done a horrible job in reporting this," said Rep. Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg. "The law doesn't come close to applying."

"I don't think 'stand your ground' applied in this situation," said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. "A person should be able to defend themselves."

Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Palm Harbor, Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater agreed with Rouson and Frishe.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, who's leaving the Legislature because of term limits, and Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, said they support the law and wouldn't repeal it.

Only Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, said he opposes the law. But he announced Monday he's leaving the Legislature.

Among other tough questions: Do you read the bills you vote on? (Mostly.) Who was a bigger train wreck, Johnnie Byrd as Speaker of the state house or Mike Haridopolos as senate president? (Byrd in a landslide). Does Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, have the votes to lock up the senate presidency in 2016? ("Chances are good," Latvala said.)


-- Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:08pm]


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