According to the Tampa Bay Times, the jury rejected Trevor Dooley’s claim of self-defense under the state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
One of the jury members said the law “did not apply to this case.” Jury foreman Walter Joss said, “The whole silly thing was over a skateboard … and it just escalated,” still not indicating how the origins of the conflict are relevant to the controversial Stand Your Ground defense.
The Tampa jury found Dooley, a 71-year-old black man, guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his white neighbor, 41-year-old David James, in front of James’ then-8-year-old daughter Danielle.
The Jamaican-born Dooley believes that racism played a big part in his conviction, and he is not alone. Dooley told reporters, “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today? … We wouldn’t.”
James’ daughter, who has been in counseling since the tragedy, did not remember much of the incident. She testified that she only remembered Dooley trying to go home.
The incident occurred in September 2010, when James and Dooley got into an argument over a skateboarder who had been given permission by James to skateboard on the other side of the basketball court where James and his daughter had been playing.
Dooley, who is 5-feet-7 and weighs 160 pounds, said in his testimony that he shot the 6-foot-1, 240 pound James when he felt his life was in danger because James had his hands around Dooley’s neck and was trying to reach for his gun.
The Times also reported that along with manslaughter, Dooley was also convicted of the dubious charges of improper exhibition of a weapon and open carrying of a firearm, both misdemeanors.
Dooley will remain free on bail until his sentencing by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody on Jan. 10.
It should be remembered that George Zimmerman’s defense argued that it was irrelevant how the encounter with Trayvon Martin began. What mattered, they said, was that Zimmerman claimed he had no other choice but to fire. For months the media speculated that Zimmerman’s defense would rest upon the Stand Your Ground law, but ultimately, this defense was never invoked. When it has been the defense of African Americans defending themselves in Florida, the defense is consistently denied. First Marissa Alexander, and now Trevor Dooley.
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