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Hearing in 'stand your ground' case draws to a close

TAMPA — A judge has given prosecutors and defense attorneys until late March to submit written arguments over whether 71-year-old Trevor Dooley was legally entitled to kill his Valrico neighbor during an argument over skateboarding on a basketball court.

Dooley's attorneys have asked the judge to throw out a manslaughter charge, saying he is protected by Florida's "stand your ground" law. The law allows people to use deadly force to save their own lives, even if retreat is possible.

Testimony before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody concluded Friday — a day after both the defendant and the victim's 10-year-old daughter testified about what happened in September 2010 on a basketball court in the Twin Lakes neighborhood.

Danielle James, the daughter of victim David James, 41, said she remembered little about the shooting except seeing the two men argue over a skateboarder, then topple together to the ground in a struggle. What she remembered most was hearing a gunshot.

Dooley testified that he shot James point blank in the chest because James was choking him and trying to get the gun.

Reports of justifiable homicides have tripled since the 2005 stand your ground law went into effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In the majority of the cases, the person's use of force was excused by prosecutors and the courts.

In December, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Alcisviades Polanco, 62, for fatally stabbing Wathson Adelson, 20, in the head with an ice pick after a confrontation in traffic.

Prosecutors said Polanco's actions were found to be covered under the stand your ground law.

But in the death of David James, prosecutors have labeled Dooley as the aggressor, producing witnesses who said he cursed James and flashed his gun before they wrestled to the ground.

Hearing in 'stand your ground' case draws to a close 02/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 4:50pm]
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