I am pretty sure that this was an unintended outcome of the “stand your ground” law in Florida. Tavarious China Smith is from Manatee County in Florida. He sold drugs to undercover cops and had a pending warrant. He was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
He has also been able to use the “stand your ground” defense twice.
On two occasions, more than two years apart, he committed homicides but was not charged thanks to provisions of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Smith claimed self-defense in both cases and prosecutors agreed. He never faced a judge or jury for fatally shooting Nikita Williams, 18, in February 2008 in a drug-related incident or Breon Mitchell, Williams’ 23-year-old half-brother, in December 2010.
Smith’s only punishment stemmed from using a gun to kill Mitchell. Since he was by then a felon, convicted on drug charges, Smith wasn’t allowed to carry the Ruger .357 Magnum he used to shoot Mitchell outside a Palmetto nightclub in 2010. In January, a federal judge in Tampa sent Smith to prison after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm….
Arthur Brown is the assistant state attorney in Manatee County who reviewed both of Smith’s homicides and declined to prosecute Smith in the Mitchell case. He said both were clear-cut cases of self-defense and that provisions of the “stand your ground” law only strengthened Smith’s claims.
Smith is serving seven years for the gun possession charge.
Marissa Alexander is serving 20 years for a warning shot after a physical altercation with her estranged husband. She had never been arrested before this incident.
Alexander’s case was prosecuted by Angela Corey, the Florida State’s Attorney who is also prosecuting George Zimmerman. Alexander was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and because she discharged a firearm during the incident, the case fell under Florida’s “10-20-life” law, enacted in 1999, which mandates a 20-year sentence for use of a gun during the commission of certain crimes.
Corey initially offered Alexander a three year deal if she pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, but according to CBS affiliate WTEV, Alexander did not believe she had done anything wrong, and rejected the plea. Her bet did not pay off: the jury in the case returned a guilty verdict in less than 15 minutes.
OK. Yes, I do beleive there should be some kind of review of “stand your ground” and “10-20-life” laws.
Something just isn’t right with all this.