Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Accused shooter loses 'stand your ground' argument involving botched drug deal

TAMPA — A big bag of pot. A drug dealer and his customer who each say the other guy tried a ripoff. A gun no one admits to owning. A whole bunch of stoned witnesses.

Those are the ingredients of a "stand your ground'' defense?

Florida's much-maligned "stand your ground" law was put to yet another test Friday when a teenage defendant facing trial for attempted murder asked a judge to throw out the case because he said he shot his drug dealer out of fear for his life.

The "stand your ground" law has been invoked more than 130 times since its passage in Florida in 2005, but in terms of colorful story lines, this was one for the books.

Both the drug dealer — who wears a scar extending from his forehead to the back of his right ear — and the dissatisfied customer argued it out for a half-day before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder.

The drug dealer: Daniel Drake, then 21. He said he brought a half-pound of "hydro" marijuana to a yard on Mohrlake Drive in Brandon on Jan. 20, intending to make a sale.

The customer: Gerald Terrell Jones, then 17. He has been arrested 22 times since age 11. He said he had $500 in his pocket but wanted only $100 worth of Drake's weed.

After some considerable sampling of the wares by other people gathered in the yard, including Drake's sales partner, Michael Wilson, 21, Drake and Jones got into a car to make the transaction.

That's when, each says, the other tried to rob him.

Drake said Jones showed him a wad of cash, which Drake told him he admired, but then Jones displayed a gun and asked, "How do you like this?"

Jones said he wasn't carrying a gun. He said Drake pulled the gun, but he was able to wrestle it away from the dealer.

Then both got out of the car, and they scuffled some more. Drake's partner, Wilson, said he managed to get the gun away from Jones.

The next part is even harder to understand, except for the consumption of Drake's hydro. But for whatever reason, Wilson said he then gave the gun back to Jones.

Jones said he took off running with the gun. Drake said Jones grabbed the marijuana out of the car first.

They fought some more. Jones said he was losing. He felt himself slipping into unconsciousness.

"I was in fear for my life. I closed my eyes and shot."

He shot Drake in the face.

Jones' defense attorney, Ronald Kurpiers, said it was clearly a "stand your ground" case. Although the law doesn't protect people who are committing a crime, Kurpiers argued that the crime — the botched drug sale — was over before the shooting.

"He was running away. He was trying to leave."

Holder deliberated for 15 minutes before ruling that the "stand your ground" law didn't apply. Jones was committing a crime at the time, he said, and even if he hadn't been, the testimony didn't show he was in mortal danger. He said Jones would stand trial Monday for attempted second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. Neither Jones nor Drake faces drug charges.

Holder also noted that the "stand your ground" law "has been misapplied throughout the state."

But not in this case.

He said the law is misapplied when it is used by police and prosecutors as a reason not to bring charges in a homicide. "It was not designed to be decided by them," he said.

Holder said the law was intended for a defendant's use in arguments before a judge.

"This," he told the attorneys, "is the way it's supposed to be done."

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or jbarry@tampabay.com.

Accused shooter loses 'stand your ground' argument involving botched drug deal 05/04/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 4, 2012 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  2. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  3. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  4. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico

    World

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  5. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'

    World

    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."