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Trevor Dooley, accused in fatal shooting on Valrico basketball court, may enter plea

Lawyers for the state and the defense say they are working on a plea deal in the case.
Trevor Dooley in court in 2019. He's charged in the shooting death of a man on a Valrico basketball court.
Trevor Dooley in court in 2019. He's charged in the shooting death of a man on a Valrico basketball court.
Published Oct. 20

TAMPA — Trevor Dooley, the former Valrico man who for more than a decade has been embroiled in a criminal case stemming from a shooting on a neighborhood basketball court, may forgo a second trial.

In a routine court hearing Wednesday morning, Assistant State Attorney Marcia Lucas said the state was close to working out a resolution with Dooley’s defense, which would have him change his not guilty plea. But neither the state nor the defense disclosed any of the proposed terms of a possible deal.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michael Williams told the attorneys he would want to know details before approving any agreement.

“I don’t want to get in a position where I’m not inclined to do it,” Williams said. “I don’t know what the parameters are. And I’m going to have a lot of questions on that.”

The judge set a new court date for next Thursday.

Related: Remember Trevor Dooley? The Valrico man who invoked stand your ground?

Dooley, who is now 80 years old, was 69 when he was accused of manslaughter in the Sept. 26, 2010, death of David James.

James, a 41-year-old Air Force veteran, was playing basketball that afternoon with his then-8-year-old daughter on their neighborhood court in Valrico. Dooley lived across the street and noticed a teen skateboarder on the other end of the court. He admonished the teen, saying he was not allowed to skate there, which prompted an argument with James.

In this 2014 photo, Danielle James holds a photo of her father David James while she and her mother, Kanina, pose for a photograph at their home. David James was shot and killed in 2010. Trevor Dooley, a former neighbor, was convicted of manslaughter but later won a new trial.
In this 2014 photo, Danielle James holds a photo of her father David James while she and her mother, Kanina, pose for a photograph at their home. David James was shot and killed in 2010. Trevor Dooley, a former neighbor, was convicted of manslaughter but later won a new trial. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Dooley returned to his garage, but emerged minutes later and walked to the edge of the court. As the argument continued, Dooley lifted his shirt, exposing the butt of a gun, according to court records. He turned to walk away, but James turned him around. A physical struggle began, then ended when Dooley shot James in the chest.

Dooley later invoked Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law. But in his first trial in 2012, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter. Judge Ashley Moody, who would later become Florida’s attorney general, sentenced him to eight years in prison. He ultimately served about a year.

But then came an appeal, in which Dooley argued the jury was given erroneous instructions about the justifiable use of force.

Related: New trial set for Trevor Dooley in Valrico stand your ground case

He was allowed to go free in 2016 on a $100,000 bond while the appeal was pending. An appeals court later granted him a new trial. But further delays have plagued the case.

It remains a possibility that Dooley will go to trial a second time.

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One of his attorneys, Michael Snure, was last month appointed as a judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit, which covers much of central Florida in and near Orlando. In court Wednesday, Snure said he promised Dooley he would delay taking the bench if Dooley wants to take it to trial.

“I promised him that, and that’s what’s gonna happen,” Snure told the judge. “But I do think that there’s a fair chance that we’re right on the tip of the spear to work it out.”