Is Florida devolving into a complete "murder first, ask questions later" mindset? (That's assuming you think it already hasn't.)
A Florida man who snuck up on his neighbor's yard and pumped Labor Day party attendants full of lead is claiming that his action should be declared legal not only under Florida's Stand Your Ground law but also under the Bush Doctrine.
According to WESH, the incident occurred Labor Day 2012 in Brevard County. Neighborhood residents say that the shooter, William T. Woodward, had been involved in a nasty dispute with one of the victims, another neighbor, over a roll of duct tape that apparently was never returned.
Woodward finally snapped, and during a Labor Day cookout, he snuck up on the party and shot Gary Lee Hembree, Roger Picior, and Bruce Timothy. Hembree and Picior later died. Woodward told police that the neighbors had called him names and previously promised to "get him."
"Come on, boys," Woodward claims they had yelled earlier that day. "We're going to get him. We're going to get him, all three of us."
According to Florida Today, Woodward's attorneys have now filed a motion to have the case dismissed based on Stand Your Ground.
Stand Your Ground allows Floridians to use deadly force to protect against "imminent death."
Woodward's attorneys are attempting to stretch the meaning of the word "imminent."
"I think legally that term has sort of been evolving, especially given changes of our government's definition of 'imminent,'" Woodward's attorney Robert Berry told Florida Today. "It's become more expansive than someone putting a gun right to your head. It's things that could become, you know, an immediate threat."
The motion claims that based on the victims' supposed threats, Woodward had every right to believe they were actually preparing to kill him. The motion also cites the Bush Doctrine. That's the name given to a set of policies used to justify the Iraq War. Though Iraq had not attacked America, President George W. Bush had argued that we had every reason to expect it would.
So in this analogy, Woodward, a gun-toting Southerner, is Bush, and the annoying neighbors, who had more bark than bite, are Iraq. Sounds about right.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The apparent end game of this thinking: If you ever, even jokingly or in the heat of the moment, tell someone something they could infer means you want to kill them, they have every right to kill you.
"It's probably best that you don't make threats against people -- they may take you seriously," Berry adds.
Let's just hope that, for everyone's safety, Woodward's novel defense strategy does not work. Also, just to be safe, never steal your neighbor's duct tape.