Jury rejects first-degree murder charge, convicts Jacksonville man on lesser count of manslaughter

A jury did not agree with the state’s assertion that a man who shot his sister’s ex-boyfriend as part of an ongoing dispute was guilty of first-degree murder.  Instead, the jury convicted the man last month on a lesser charge of manslaughter, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The difference is significant for the 22-year-old defendant. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he faced a mandatory life sentence. Now, he faces a maximum term of 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced next month.

The man who was killed and two of his friends drove to the defendant’s house to fight him after the men had a disagreement earlier in the day, the newspaper reported. The defendant walked out of his house and fired warning shots into the ground to scare the men off, the newspaper reported. When the men drove off, the defendant fired into the car, claiming self-defense, the newspaper reported. The jury did not fully buy the self-defense claim, but they also did not find the premeditation needed to convict the man of first-degree murder. In Jacksonville Felony Crimes like this, there are often alternative charges the jury can consider, known as lesser-included charges. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, the defendant was eventually convicted of manslaughter in the death of the one man and attempted manslaughter for firing into the car with two other men inside. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Attempted manslaughter is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison on each count.

Manslaughter is often a charge that applies when people get into a fight and one of the people ends being killed. Clearly, the jury thought the defendant was responsible to some degree for the death. But the fact that the man showed up with friends at the defendant’s home with the intent to fight, and likely not one-on-one, probably factored into the jury’s decision to dismiss the notion of first-degree murder. The counter to that argument is that the defendant had appeared to eliminate the threat with the warning shot and the men were leaving when he fired into the car. The issue then becomes whether that qualifies as premeditation, or whether it’s still an act of defending oneself.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney represents people charged with serious felony charges and will investigate the case against you or your loved one and review the options on how to proceed.

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