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Valrico 'stand your ground' case attorney will appeal judge's decision

TAMPA — The attorney for 71-year-old Trevor Dooley, who fatally shot a younger neighbor during an argument in 2010, thinks he still can win his client immunity under Florida's "stand your ground" law by appealing to a higher court.

The attorney said Thursday he would seek an expedited ruling by Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal on a circuit judge's refusal Monday to grant immunity.

With Dooley standing silently beside him, lawyer Ronald Tulin also said he may seek to have the trial held someplace other than Hillsborough County because of "extremely sensational" media coverage.

Dooley is charged with manslaughter in the shooting of his Valrico neighbor, David James, 41, after they argued about a 14-year-old skateboarder who was using the community basketball court.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody denied Dooley immunity under the "stand your ground" law partly because witnesses said they saw Dooley flash a gun clipped to his waistband before the fight.

Witnesses also said James tried only to get the gun away as they struggled.

On Thursday, Moody set a Sept. 4 trial date.

In his appeal, Tulin said he will argue that two witnesses — a married couple playing tennis nearby — had a poor view. He will also argue that Dooley carried the gun in a holster in his pocket, not his waistband.

A sheriff's deputy has testified that he took a holster from Dooley's pocket after the shooting but couldn't remember what happened to it. The holster was not collected as evidence.

Dooley's "stand your ground" defense has drawn heavy media attention that intensified after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford by George Zimmerman — a case with many similarities.

Tulin said news stories have failed to report the good side of Dooley — "one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet." He said Dooley was smaller than James, that he suffers from osteoarthritis, that he never wanted to hurt anyone that day.

"It's just not his style," Tulin said.

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

Valrico 'stand your ground' case attorney will appeal judge's decision 05/17/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 1:01am]
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