“Bush Doctrine” for Preemptive Strikes Cited by Florida Killer in His Defense

Friday, September 06, 2013

Preemptive attacks aren’t just for governments to rationalize invasions. They’re also for justifying midnight ambushes on people having a barbecue, according to a Florida man charged with murder.


William T. Woodward stands accused of two counts of murder and one of attempted homicide after he snuck up on his neighbors while they were having a Labor Day barbecue and opened fire. Two of the victims, Gary Lee Hembree and Roger Picior, died, while a third, Bruce Timothy, survived despite being shot 11 times.


Woodward’s attorneys have argued that the charges should be dismissed because their client was facing an “imminent” threat. They supported their motion for dismissal by citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and the “Bush Doctrine,” which the administration of George W. Bush used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq (and preempt Saddam Hussein’s purported plans to use weapons of mass destruction).


Lawyer Robert Berry, who’s representing Woodward, claimed the three men had called his client names and threatened to “get him.” Consequently, said Berry, the term of “imminent threat” applied in this situation.


“I think legally that term has sort of been evolving especially given changes of our government’s definition of ‘imminent,’” 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.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Florida Man Cites ‘Bush Doctrine’ After Pre-emptive Killing of Neighbors at Labor Day Cookout (by David Edwards, Raw Story)

Titusville Slaying Suspect Claims He Stood His Ground (by Andrew Ford, Florida Today)

What Is the Bush Doctrine, Anyway? (by Dan Froomkin, Washington Post)


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