Drug Dealer Used “Stand Your Ground” Law to Avoid Murder Charges…Twice
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Tavarious China Smith
Drug dealers are successfully using Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law to get away with murder.
The law, which has gained national attention since the Trayvon Martin shooting, was intended to help citizens avoid punishment when defending themselves against attackers.
But one unintended consequence of stand-your-ground is that narcotics dealers and gang members have avoided prosecution by invoking the law after killing someone.
Tavarious China Smith of Manatee County, Florida, was not the brightest of drug dealers, having sold crack cocaine and marijuana to undercover agents on three separate occasions. However, he did manage to commit two homicides and not serve any jail time for either of them. In February 2008, Smith killed 18-year-old Nikita Williams.Two and a half years later, in December 2010, he murdered Williams’ half-brother, Breon Mitchell. In both cases, Smith’s attorneys successfully invoked the stand-your-ground defense, and Smith never even faced a judge or jury.
Smith did wind up in prison, but the conviction was for using a gun to kill one of his victims, which was forbidden because he had previously been convicted of a drug-related felony.
A state task force appointed by the governor is now reviewing whether the stand-your-ground law is being applied correctly.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Drug Dealer Used 'Stand Your Ground' To Avoid Charges in Two Killings (by Kris Hundley, Tampa Bay Times)
Justifiable Homicides Double in a Decade (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Recent “Stand Your Ground” Laws Extend Justifiable Home Protection Violence into the Streets (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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