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Jury Deliberates in Valrico Stand-Your-Ground Case

A Hillsborough County jury listed to the evidence against Trevor Dooley and now deliberates to determine whether he is guilty of the death of his neighbor near a Valrico basketball court in 2010. 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.

Dooley is accused of 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 was called as a defense witness.

Dooley had complained about a skateboarder practicing on the neighborhood basketball court. James defended the teen.

James’ daughter Danielle, now 10, testified but couldn’t recall a gun or even much of an argument between the two men. The skateboarder, now 16, remembered Dooley starting to walk home, then pulling out a gun when James walked after him, telling him, “I’m not done with you.”

Two adult witnesses, who were playing tennis nearby, testified Dooley cursed James, then lifted his shirt and flashed a gun in his waistband. At that point, they said Dooley turned to go home but James went for the gun.

Dooley’s defense attorney argued that “[t]he only consistency in their (the various witnesses’) testimony” was that Dooley walked away. “How can you convict him of manslaughter if he’s trying to walk away?”

The jury began deliberations late Monday afternoon.

Dooley’s defense attorneys previously filed a motion for dismissal based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The trial judge denied that motion last spring.

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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