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Trial Upcoming in Valrico Basketball Court Death

The State’s case against Trevor Dooley will proceed to trial just after Labor Day. Dooley, a 71-year-old ex-school bus driver is charged with manslaughter in the 2010 shooting death of David James. Dooley has asserted a “stand your ground” defense.

Because of the media attention the case has received, an extra-large jury pool has been summoned to Hillsborough Circuit Court’s biggest courtroom for jury selection.

Dooley is charged with shooting 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.

The defense has indicated that it may seek a continuance from the September 4th trial date if James’ daughter is unable to attend the trial that week. In earlier hearings, the girl 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 previously 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.

Dooley’s defense attorneys filed a motion for dismissal based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The trial judge denied that motion last spring. The matter was appealed and is currently pending before the state Court of Appeal.

Florida’s “stand your ground” law was highly publicized after Trayvon Martin’s February 2012 death in Sanford, Florida. The law, passed in 2005, says anyone not committing a crime can use deadly force if he feels threatened with death or great bodily harm. Legal precedent indicates that someone is allowed to use that force even if the threatening person is unarmed. “Stand your ground” expands on an earlier law that allowed people to use deadly force to defend themselves in their own homes. The newer law allows for the defense in any place.

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