An appeal to the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which worked to the benefit of George Zimmerman but failed Marissa Alexander, could pass the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutors.
If the appeal is successful, prosecutors would have to show that the defendant claiming the “Stand Your Ground” law did not act in self-defense.
Jared Bretherick, who was charged with aggravated assault for pointing a pistol at Derek Dunning in a road rage incident near Orlando, Fl., on Dec. 29, 2011, was denied “Stand Your Ground” immunity at a June 2012 hearing, according to Reuters.
Court records said Dunning nearly sideswiped Bretherick’s SUV. The Bretherick family said Dunning cut them off and stopped his SUV in front of them. Bretherick’s father, Ronald Bretherick called 911 and showed his gun to Dunning as a warning, Reuters reported.
Upon returning to their vehicles, Dunning backed his SUV toward them and Jared took his father’s gun and pointed it at Dunning’s SUV until police arrived. No shots were fired. Jared claims he was trying to protect his father, a disabled veteran.
Jared was denied immunity because Judge Scott Polodna said that Dunning was not committing a violent crime and he retreated to his SUV, rawstory.com reports. Facing a mandatory three-year sentence, Jared appealed the decision. A district appellate court sent it to the state Supreme Court.
If Jared wins his appeal, defendants may not have to prove they acted in self-defense in order to win immunity, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
In June, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the “warning shot” bill that allows Floridians to use a gun to fire a protective warning shot and avoid criminal charges. It was a change that came too late to help Alexander, who fired a warning shot to deter her attacking former husband. Last month, Alexander accepted a plea deal that essentially ends her case—but sends her back to jail for 65 days. The terms of the plea ordered her to serve three years in prison for two of the three charges against her. Since Alexander already spent 1,030 days in jail, she will return to jail another 65 days to settle the plea agreement.