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Lake Wales Man Not Charged After Shooting Deemed Self-Defense

The body of Joseph M. Coney was discovered earlier this week facedown in a Lake Wales yard at about 4 a.m. Homicide detectives from the Polk County sheriff's office and Lake Wales police opened a homicide investigation after determining that Coney had been shot.

During the investigation, sheriff's detectives interviewed Ben Furman, who reportedly lives at the address where the body was found. Furman admitted to shooting Coney, but claimed it was in self defense, according to detectives.

After being advised of his constitutional rights, Furman apparently told detectives that he and Coney were arguing when Coney pulled out a pair of large gardening shears. Furman claimed that Coney threatened to kill him and Isiah Tillman. According to Furman, Tillman pulled a handgun and pointed it at Coney. Coney walked toward Furman and Tillman, continuing his threats. Furman then took Tillman's gun and shot Coney. Tillman then grabbed the gun and fled the scene.

Law enforcement later obtained a warrant to search Tillman's apartment, where they found a .45-caliber round similar to one found at Furman's residence. Detectives say Tillman then corroborated Furman's description of the shooting and took detectives to where the gun was hidden. Tillman was on probation for burglary and battery.

Furman allegedly consented to a search of his home. Police discovered two paper bags of marijuana and a cannabis plant in a garden surrounded by other vegetable plants.

After completing their investigation, detectives declined to pursue charges against Furman, believing the shooting to be in self-defense. In Florida, the use of deadly force is justified if a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony or to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.

Furman is charged with one count each of possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and cultivation of marijuana. Tillman is charged with one count each of tampering with evidence, carrying a concealed firearm, and violation of probation.

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