TAMPA — When Hillsborough County circuit courts return to normal after the Republican National Convention and the Labor Day holiday, the first trial will be anything but business as usual.
Prosecutors plan to launch one of their highest-profile trials: that of Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old ex-school bus driver who asserts a "stand your ground" defense against charges that he fatally shot a younger man on a Valrico basketball court.
Dooley's manslaughter trial will begin Sept. 4 in Hillsborough circuit court's biggest courtroom to accommodate a large jury pool.
Dooley is charged with shooting David James, 41, in 2010 after they argued about a 14-year-old skateboarder who was using the community basketball court. James died in front of his 8-year-old daughter, who will be called as a defense witness.
On Wednesday, Dooley's attorney, Ronald Tulin, said he was ready for trial, though the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal has not ruled on Dooley's immunity claim under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
Tulin appealed after Circuit Judge Ashley Moody denied a motion for dismissal in May.
He said Wednesday he may ask for a delay if James' daughter, Danielle, who now lives in another state, is unable to attend the trial that week.
In earlier hearings, Danielle has testified that she heard Dooley say, "I don't want to get into a fight." She also said she never saw him flash or pull a gun. She said she simply heard a gunshot as the men wrestled on the ground.
Other witnesses have testified they saw Dooley curse James and flash a gun before he and James scuffled and fell.
Dooley has testified that he fired only because James was choking him and trying to pull the gun out of his hand and he feared he'd be killed.
"I couldn't talk; I couldn't even see him," Dooley testified in February. "I wanted to tell him, 'You're killing me. You're choking me to death.' "
John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]