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FL: Victims' families want [stand your ground] law changes
Victims' families want law changes
Families of children struck by stray bullets are organizing a petition drive to change a self-defense law that may complicate prosecution.
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The families of the South Florida children killed by stray bullets in recent months remain in mourning, but have taken on a new fight: a petition drive to have state lawmakers change the ''Stand Your Ground'' law.

They fear the law could complicate how stray-bullet cases are prosecuted and make it easier for those accused in the shooting deaths of their loved ones to walk away without being punished.

''What I want to see is for everybody to be responsible for their own actions,'' said David Jenkins, whose 9-year-old daughter Sherdavia Jenkins was shot to death in early July as she played on her front porch.

''There can be no stand-your-ground right. If somebody comes at you and an innocent person is struck, you have to be responsible for that,'' Jenkins said. ``We don't need any more of our children killed. I'll be right there every step of the way until this is changed.''

The petition drive comes the same week The Miami Herald published a story showing the difficulty prosecutors have in getting convictions and lengthy prison sentences for those charged in stray-bullet shootings.

Of at least 13 cases of children and teenagers killed by stray bullets since 1993, only one defendant went to prison for life. In some cases, shooters were acquitted after claiming self-defense.


Parents and organizers say the goal is to collect a million signatures to sway lawmakers to repeal or close loopholes.

The law, passed last year by the state Legislature, removed the legal ''responsibility to run'' requirement that made it illegal to shoot if you had a way to escape.

Under the new law, when people feel threatened, even if they don't see a gun, they can shoot -- whether they're standing on a street corner, in their cars or inside their homes. And if they kill someone, they can't be sued by the victim's family.

''We need specific language for children. You need to be prosecuted. There needs to be no loopholes,'' said Project Hope Outreach Ministries Pastor Anthony Dawkins.

Stray-bullet cases were difficult to prosecute even before the Stand Your Ground law for a number of reasons: chaotic crime scenes, reluctant witnesses and shooters who often successfully claimed self-defense.

Law enforcement agencies have been critical of the new law, fearful criminals could benefit. But supporters insist it was carefully written, pointing to a clause that notes the law does not apply to anyone engaged in an ``unlawful activity''.

Prosecutors in the Jenkins case believe the language should prevent two men charged in her murder from using the new law in their defense.

At the time of the shooting, Damon ''Red Rock'' Darling was a felon and prohibited from carrying a gun, and Leroy ''Yellowman'' Larose, say police, was in the area to allegedly buy drugs.


Still, at least one lawmaker hints that the Legislature may reconsider. State Sen. Frederica Wilson, who supported the law, said lawmakers were focused on homeowners rights to protect themselves against intruders.

''They weren't thinking about two bad people shooting it out and an innocent child getting caught in the crossfire,'' she told The Miami Herald.

Petition supporters say the law needs to offer solid protection for children killed by stray bullets.

''I want to see the loopholes closed so these people who just shoot and kill will pay a price,'' said Bennie Mobley, grandmother of Otissha Burnett. Burnett, 17, was killed by a stray bullet while she attended a party.

''I have not been able to sleep since that day,'' Mobley said. ``I'm just tired of it. I want to see the killings stop. I want to see something done. I have to make some noise.''

Miami Herald staff writer Susannah A. Nesmith contributed to this report.

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''We need specific language for children. You need to be prosecuted. There needs to be no loopholes."
Good plan. That way when some kid starts waving a gun around he'll feel safe knowing that no one will be able to shoot him.

''They weren't thinking about two bad people shooting it out and an innocent child getting caught in the crossfire,''
Yes they were! That's why the protection doesn't apply to people engaged in a criminal act!

This stuff makes me sick. Almost as much as that video of that public health worker tresspassing while the deputy stood by watching. :puke:

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was wondering if anyone was going to catch that second sentence you quoted!

What worries me is that some of the legislators who supported the law are now reconsidering . . .

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8,460 Posts
Sharky said:
I'm not the brightest bulb in the bunch but you would think the poeple who supported the law knew what the heck they were supporting!
Nope, just like when our Stand your ground law was being debated and passed, several people got up and griped about stuff the bill did not touch as if it did.
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