Jacksonville man guilty of manslaughter, not second-degree murder in 2012 shooting death

A Jacksonville man initially charged with second-degree murder was convicted instead of manslaughter in the shooting death of a man that hit him in the head with a metal crutch. James Waters was found guilty by a jury last week and will be sentenced next month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida and Waters could be sentenced to up to 15 years in state prison. Second-degree murder has a maximum sentence of life in prison, so the reduction in the charge limited his exposure considerably in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

Waters and another man got into an argument in the parking lot of an apartment complex when the man hit Waters over the head with a metal crutch, the newspaper reported. Waters pulled out a gun and, after the two men exchanged words. Waters allegedly shot him. The man died two days later, the newspaper reported. The state charged Waters with second-degree murder and took the case to trial, the newspaper reported. During the trial, the Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys for Waters argued that the shooting was in self-defense. The judge then ruled the jury could not consider second-degree murder, only manslaughter, an uncommon move in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes case. The jury agreed on the manslaughter charge and found Waters guilty.

The second-degree murder versus manslaughter debate has some parallels to the George Zimmerman case, the second-degree murder case the nation was glued to over the past two weeks. Though that jury had the option to consider both second-degree murder and manslaughter, Zimmerman was found not guilty of either charge in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In Waters’ case, there appears to have been more or a break in the action once he pulled the gun. He was hit, then he pulled out the gun, then the two had words and then he shot the victim. That all likely happened very quickly, but the jury could have seen plenty of possible opportunities for Waters to exit the situation instead of shooting the man. The sentencing will be interesting to watch in Waters’ Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. The judge has already made it clear she thought second-degree murder was too much in this case. Does she agree with the defense that Waters acted in self-defense? Those answers will be pretty clear once the sentencing comes up next month in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Duval County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.