Tags: Editor's Pick | Zimmerman | Trayvon | Sanford | Baxley

Stand Your Ground Author: Trayvon Martin Case Not Covered by Law

Friday, 23 Mar 2012 10:13 AM

By Martin Gould

The Republican state representative who wrote Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground” law said on Friday that he did not mean it to cover killings such as the Trayvon Martin case.

Rep. Dennis Baxley wrote, “This law does not seem to be applicable to the tragedy that happened in Sanford,” in an opinion piece for Fox News.

“There is nothing . . . in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense.”

Martin, 17, was killed on Feb. 26 as he returned from a store after buying Skittles and iced tea for his brother. He was black. His shooter, George Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch captain claims he shot Martin in self-defense, and has not been arrested, although many suspect the act was racially motivated.

Zimmerman had called 911 to report a suspicious person. The dispatcher specifically told him not to follow Martin, advice he seems to have ignored. The case has caused outrage with national civil rights leaders including Al Sharpton and NAACP leader Ben Jealous traveling to Sanford, a suburb of Orlando, to lead protests.

Baxley said the law — also known as the castle doctrine — was introduced in 2005 to protect people whose homes were looted after hurricanes. The Florida statute has been adopted as a model by 26 other states.

“Specifically, there was a situation in the panhandle of Florida where a citizen moved an RV onto his property, to protect the remains of his home from being looted,” wrote Baxley whose district is based in Ocala in north-central Florida. “One evening, a perpetrator broke into the RV and attacked the property owner. The property owner, acting in self-defense in his home, shot and killed the perpetrator.

“Quite simply, the castle doctrine is a good law which now protects individuals in a majority of states,” added Baxley, a funeral director. “However, the castle doctrine does not provide protection to individuals who seek to pursue and confront others, as is allegedly the case in the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford.”

Baxley said that he supports moves to have a grand jury determine whether Zimmerman should be charged. “Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.”

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