Twisted Justice: Stand Your Ground Cases Across Florida

Since 2005, justifiable homicides have risen by 25 percent in states with "shoot-first" laws

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Protestors rally against Flordia's 'Stand Your Ground' gun law.
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A Tampa Bay Times analysis of more than 200 Florida cases found that 70 percent of people invoking Stand Your Ground as a defense go free, and are even more likely to walk if their victim was black.

Victim: Carlos Mustelier
Gun Owner: Thomas Baker
Outcome: Shot and killed; no charges filed

After midnight on November 24th, 2010, 28-year-old Baker went for a jog with $950 in cash and a handgun tucked into his waistband. When an unarmed Mustelier, 18, lunged at Baker in an attempted robbery, Baker drew his gun and allegedly asked, "You wanna play games?" before unloading multiple bullets into the teen's chest and back.

Victim: Vincent Hudson
Gun Owner: Doug Freeman
Outcome: Shot in the stomach, leg and arm; no charges filed

Freeman, the owner of an electronics store, shot an unarmed Hudson in May 2006, when the man entered his store and asked for money. Freeman said he thought Hudson, 26, was reaching for a gun. Both had history: Hudson's rap sheet included 36 arrests, and Freeman had killed a man, wounding his wife in the process, more than a decade before in another justifiable homicide.

Victim: Justin Holliman
Gun Owner: Russell Brightman
Outcome: Died on the scene; no charges filed

Brightman was in the shower on the evening of October 30th, 2010, when he heard his burglar alarm go off and footsteps pounding up his stairs. Brightman retrieved a gun from his car, opened the garage door and saw two men run from the front of the house. Brightman shot at the fleeing suspects, killing 18-year-old Holliman.

Victim: Billy Kuch
Gun Owner: Gregory Stewart
Outcome: Five weeks in a coma; never prosecuted

After wandering away from a party in August 2009, a drunk, shirtless Kuch forgot which house he'd come from and tried Stewart's door. The homeowner emerged with a semi-auto, which he fired at Kuch, 23, as the young man stumbled towards him and asked for a light, a cigarette in his raised hand.

This story appeared in the April 25th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone

From The Archives Issue 1181: April 25, 2013