21-Year-Old Jacksonville Man Sent to Prison for Life for Shooting

A 21-year-old Jacksonville man was sentenced to life in prison recently, the same week the man’s attacker died, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Being arrested on a gun charge or any charge alleging injury to another person can be intimidating for anyone, whether 21 or 61. In Florida, these charges will typically mean serious prison time. That’s why a suspect must quickly consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, who will give them advice about whether or not to speak with police upon arrest and what the best strategy of defense is leading up to trial.
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According to the newspaper, the 21-year-old defendant was found guilty recently of attempted second-degree murder for shooting a 29-year-old man in the back and arm as the man was trying to walk away from a fight in 2008.

The newspaper reports that the incident goes back to Sept. 2, 2008, when the victim was escorting his sister to a convenience store around 9 at night in Northwest Jacksonville. The victim told his sister it was too dangerous for her to go out on her own.

The defendant allegedly made a sexist comment about the girl and though they had words, the state says the victim thought better of a fight and turned away when the defendant allegedly pulled the trigger. After being shot, the victim could no longer walk.

As the defendant was sentenced three years after the attack, the man died following surgery that was related to the shooting, the newspaper reports. As a result of the shooting, the man could no longer walk.

In Florida, attempted murder is considered a first-degree felony under Florida Statutes 782.051. It is defined as someone attempting to commit a felony and who performs an intentional act that doesn’t cause the death of a person in the process. A first-degree felony in Florida is punishable by 30 years to life in prison.

A first-degree felony in Florida is the most serious class of charge a person can face, so hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney is of supreme importance. The skills of a diligent attorney can lead to evidence being thrown out, the state’s theory being scrutinized and proven false and a possible not guilty verdict at trial. Sometimes, it can mean a successful plea agreement to less-serious charges or a weaker penalties.

In cases involving shootings, there are specific steps that an attorney must take to ensure the client is properly defended and their rights are protected. For one, the identity of the shooter must be iron-clad. This means accessing video surveillance, if possible, shooting holes in the stories of witnesses and scrutinizing what police officers have written in their reports. In cases where witnesses allege to know who committed a shooting, it is important to show a jury that most people are probably ducking for cover during a public shooting and are unable to see who is committing the crime.

How evidence is obtained by police is another matter that must be discussed in preparation of trial. Police will attempt to use search warrants, obtained through the signature of a judge, to look through a person’s home, but sometimes the evidence can be eliminated from trial if police don’t fully inform a judge of the evidence they have at the time of trying to get the search warrant.

Also, if a suspect provides a statement to police — which is highly inadvisable — it’s possible that the statement itself could be suppressed from evidence if police didn’t inform the suspect of their rights or if they otherwise improperly obtained the confession.

There are many avenues of defense, but an attorney must quickly get on the case in order to be apprised of all details and begin discussing the case not only with the client, but also forge a relationship with the prosecution to best advocate for the client.

If you need a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call Mussallem and Associates, PA at 904-365-5200 for a free consultation.

More Blog Entries:

Interlachen Man Arrested on Attempted Murder Charges After Shooting: August 8, 2011
Additional Resources:

Victim dies related to 2008 shooting; same week attacker sentenced to life, by Scott Butler, The Florida Times-Union