A judge vacated a 20-year prison sentence of Clay County man last week, getting a man initially convicted of murder a step closer to leaving prison. Jonathan David Williams was convicted in 2008 of murder and aggravated battery in Clay County for killing a man and injuring a teen after firing shots when a group of people came to his home to collect a $35 debt, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But the charges and convictions have been eroding away since. The murder conviction was overturned in 2011 and Williams was granted a new trial. But his new Clay County Criminal Attorney argued Williams’ actions were protected under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. A judge agreed and the Clay County criminal charge was dismissed.
And, now that the aggravated battery sentence has been vacated in this Clay County violent crimes case, Williams’ defense attorney will likely pursue a similar Stand Your Ground claim. Because both charges stem from the same incident, it stands to reason that if a judge thought Williams was warranted in fearing for his life and shooting, the same thinking would apply on the aggravated battery charge as with the murder charge. Moreover, the judge wrote in his ruling vacating the sentence that Williams’ first lawyer erred in not filing a Stand Your Ground motion.
Florida was the first state in the nation to pass a Stand Your Ground law, which does not require a person to retreat if they reasonably fear for their life or serious bodily injury. The law has become particularly polarizing of late with some high-profile cases, including the shooting last month of an unarmed Jacksonville teen at a gas station following an argument over loud music. Opponents argue it has been too loosely applied and should be repealed because it condones unnecessary violence.
In Williams’ case, a neighbor brought his daughter and her friend to Williams’ house to collect $35. An argument began on the porch and Williams went inside to get a rifle. In his opinion vacating the sentence, the judge wrote the neighbor approached Williams in an aggressive manner and was trying to come into Williams’ home without permission. Williams said he heard a loud boom when the neighbor charged at him and Williams fired. The neighbor was shot twice and his daughter’s friend was shot in the leg.
With the current laws in Florida, a Stand Your Ground claim should at least be examined by a Clay County Violent Crimes Attorney in any confrontation that escalates into gunfire. The claim is always argued before trial. If it is granted, the case is dismissed and there is no need for a trial.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Clay County Gun Crime Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.