Florida’s now infamous “Stand Your Ground” law will get another test next month, this time in the case of a Jacksonville woman charged with second-degree murder for stabbing her boyfriend to death. Jennifer Charlotte Goodman, 32m, is charged with murder for stabbing her on-again, off-again boyfriend Anthony Norman in the chest and killing him during an argument outside of her home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The “Stand Your Ground” law, passed by the Florida legislature in 2005, was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by Neighborhood Watch member George Zimmerman in April after the two were in a fight. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder. The law says someone does not have to retreat if he or she is in fear of their life or facing great bodily harm. Goodman’s Jacksonville criminal case differs some, and her Duval County Criminal Defense Attorneys claim there is a history of abuse in the relationship, which gave Goodman a reason to fear for her life when the situation escalated, the newspaper reported.
That may be a small consideration, but Stand Your Ground cases are based on that particular moment in time and whether there was any other way to diffuse the situation.
In Goodman’s case, Norman came over to Goodman’s house drunk and started an argument about another man, the newspaper reported. Norman is accused of dragging Goodman into the house by her hair and punching her in the face several times before Goodman escaped and ran across the street to call her family and police. Norman left and, when he returned, got into a fight with Goodman’s brother and a friend. Goodman came outside with a knife and when Norman yelled and lunged at her, she stabbed him in the chest, killing him, the newspaper reported. Prosecutors argue that once Goodman walked out of the house and into the yard, she became the aggressor and Stand Your Ground should not apply. The situation was under control, the state argues, and Norman was not fighting back to Goodman’s brother and friend, the newspaper reported.
Goodman’s case is similar to that of Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot for what she claims was necessary to ward of her threatening husband. Her Stand Your Ground defense was denied because she left the situation, went to her car and got a gun, then went back into the room where her husband was. That similar fact pattern will be critical for Goodman: Will the perceived threat still be seen by the judge even though Goodman had escaped the situation and then went back outside? Will the pattern of abuse have a role in the judge’s decision? Both issues will be key for Goodman, who faces up to life in prison for the 2011 killing.
If you or a loved one needs an Experienced Violent Crimes Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Gun Lawyer, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.