Saturday, June 1, 2013

Florida's Stand Your Ground Law is a License to Commit Murder

Ralph Wald
Ralph Wald

RT.com

It took a Florida jury just two hours to acquit a retired US Army lieutenant colonel who invoked a controversial self-defense law to explain his decision to kill his wife’s lover.

Jurors decided, after two days of testimony, that Ralph Wald, 70, was justified in killing Walter Conley when Wald arrived home one night to find Conley, 32, having sex with Wald’s wife, Johnna Lynn Flores. Wald testified he shot Conley in the head and chest because he thought the younger man was an intruder who was raping the 41-year-old Flores. 

Wald’s attorneys successfully argued that their client’s case fell under the jurisdiction of the Stand-Your-Ground law, a self-defense plea used by defendants who witness a situation where someone appears to be in harm’s way and the only option is to intervene with deadly force. Nearly half of the fifty United States have some form of the law.  

Unbelievable. It's not surprising that a travesty of justice as blatant as this took place in Florida. 

What do you think?  Please leave a omment.

31 comments:

  1. Ten Thousand YearsJune 1, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Even if they sent this murder to the electric chair, or some modern manifestation of the excruciating Lingchi, another person would still be dead.

    Retribution is futile, so long as guns are available.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Try, for once, to put yourself into the shoes and mind of someone like this man. You come home and find the situation described. What conclusion do you reach?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, that's exactly what the prosecutor said. But the biased jurors preferred the truly unbelievable defense. And, naturally, you agree.

      Delete
    2. So, which is it Mike? Was the jury biased? Or was the law bad?

      And what evidence do you have that the jury was biased? Just that they made a decision you don't think they should have made? They saw all of the evidence, you haven't.

      Delete
    3. In other words, you failed--if you ever tried, that is.

      Delete
    4. It sounds like the guy got away with murder to me. Bad law and biased jury both may have contributed.

      Delete
  3. When I first read this, I said to myself, "aquited of what?". I had to follow the link to find out it was a murder charge. Classic prosecutorial overreach. It would have been much easier to get a manslaughter conviction by focusing on the fact that it wasn't rape. Instead they had to convince a jury of the defendant's mindset, and they didn't buy it. That could have happened in any state. But again, if SYG is a " license to murder" why was this guy and Zimmerman on trial for murder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All right, I shouldn't call it a license to murder, but a ticket to get away with murder. Does that work for ya?

      Delete
    2. Not in the slightest. Try the right of good citizens to defend themselves and their homes.

      Delete
    3. Mike, is it ok to kill someone who is raping your spouse? It could be that we depart at that first question, and we'll never agree on much when it comes to justifiable homicide. If you say "yes", we can proceed to the next question. What do you call it if he legitimately thought she was being raped? It would be called "murder" if he killed him for cheating, but what if he thought it was rape? Now understand that the prosecution bet all their marbles on murder, and they didn't convince the jury. So what does this have to do with Florida law? What would be different in
      Any other state?

      Delete
    4. TS, even you admit that it went this way because the prosecution tried to get too much. That must mean that you agree with me that the guy committed manslaughter. The SYG law helped him get away with it.

      In theory I agree one would have the right to kill someone to stop or prevent a rape. But how, in practice, do you picture that? A rapist in the act is too close to the victim to shoot. Wouldn't just the approach of another person stop the crime? Do you think the guy is so into the act that he'd continue when another person orders him to stop? That means, it would be a summary execution similar to shooting someone you caught breaking into your home while they're running away.

      And that's what the SYG nonsense helps people get away with.

      Delete
    5. Mikeb, unlike you, with people on my side who comment here, speculation doesn't mean belief or support.

      Delete
    6. Are you saying it was manslaughter now? Earlier you said murder. So if you think it was manslaughter, why are you complaining about him not being convicted of murder? By the way, what I said was that the prosecution would have been far more likely to get a manslaughter conviction. I did not pass judgement with what little I know about the case. Minimally, it looks like a civil case for wrongful death.

      You are still not articulating what this has to do with SYG. This could have happened in any state though I believe some allow for dual charges of manslaughter and murder. You guys are stuck in the mode where if it happened in Florida, blame SYG.

      Delete
  4. We've been over the SYG statutes, what they say, what they don't say, over and over. You keep misrepresenting the statutes in spite of the truth.

    Now, you try to prove your position using this case, but the fact is that SYG or not, this verdict could have been reached by a jury in any state under defense of a third party. All it requires is that the jury find enough proof to convince them that this guy never thought that his wife was cheating on him, but rather thought she was being raped by a presumably strong, buff young man who could harm either of them.

    Maybe you don't think his argument was convincing, but apparently the jury found it convincing enough that they couldn't bring themselves to convict him. Your problem here is not with the SYG law, which would have led to the case being dismissed if it was successfully invoked, but with the jury system itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does it sound reasonable to you that this guy truly couldn't distinguish between rape and consensual sex?

      Delete
    2. It sounds possible to me. If I were on the jury, I'd have to look at the timeline, the credibility of the witnesses. I can see someone who is so blinded by love for his wife that he would never think she'd cheat on him and would immediately think she was being raped. I can also see that your interpretation could be true--he was mad, he shot the guy, and claimed this falsely.

      In this case, the jury went with the former rather than the latter. Were they right? Maybe. Maybe not. But it came down to the jury's call on that matter, not to what law was in place. That's why I don't think this is a valid case to criticize "Stand your Ground" or the "Castle Doctrine." Here, it came down to what story the jury bought, and apparently the Defense was more convincing to this jury.

      Maybe he's telling the truth and they chose correctly, or maybe the prosecutor screwed the pooch on the case.

      Delete
    3. Since I don't know how smart the wife is, it's hard to say, but anyone with a brain who is going to have an affair would pick someplace discrete.

      Delete
    4. T., does it also sound reasonable to you that the only way he could have stopped the, what he thought was a rape, was by shooting the guy? How could he have physically done it without endangering his wife? If, upon his approach, the supposed rape stopped, then he killed the guy after the fact, in a rage for the crime he witnessed.

      That's wrong and that's what the SYG helps people get away with.

      Delete
    5. That's not the only way it could have gone down--you're making a lot of assumptions there. Still, if it was a situation like you are describing, that would be voluntary manslaughter, with or without stand your ground--your interpretation of the law and its application is deeply flawed.

      Might it have been a situation like you describe and yet he still got off? Sure, but that would be more because of the jury's understanding the feeling and rage and letting him off. This would be the jury acting on their own feelings, not a result of SYG.


      Your distortions of what SYG and castle doctrine laws do help your side with low information voters, but when people understand the issues at stake, they realize that these laws are not outside the mainstream.

      Delete
    6. Stand Your Ground isn't meant to cover shootings inside one's own home. That's the Castle Doctrine. Stand Your Ground refers to cases out in public. This incident isn't relevant to the law that you so despise.

      Delete
    7. Greg, did you read the article?

      "Wald’s attorneys successfully argued that their client’s case fell under the jurisdiction of the Stand-Your-Ground law"

      Delete
    8. The article isn't currently available, but since RT.com is Russia Times, I suppose, I have reason to doubt the accuracy or objectivity of the source.

      Delete
    9. What are you saying, Greg, that the lying Ruskies made that shit up about Wald's lawyer having used the SYG defense?

      Delete
    10. I'm saying that I see no reason why this would fall under Stand Your Ground, since the intent of that law is to cover self defense in public.

      Delete
  5. Wald was released from jail several hours after the verdict. His wife picked him up and the couple embraced, hugged and kissed several times in front of a throng of reporters before driving off at about 10:15 p.m.

    He declined comment but Flores said, “My man was willing to give his life for me. That's an honorable man.”

    Flores said after the verdict that she was looking forward to her husband's release later that night. She said they planned to celebrate by going to the Waffle House.

    She added that she wasn't nervous living with a man who had fatally shot another man in front of her. He was protecting her, she said.

    “We'll get all our business in order over the next few days,” Flores said. “I'm glad he's coming home. It's been very lonely.”

    http://tbo.com/news/crime/wald-details-shooting-of-wifes-lover-as-sides-rest-in-murder-trial-b82497683z1

    I'm assuming that since there is a record of his testimony in this article, and not hers, that she didnt contradict him. And maybe she didnt testify, though I would have thought that the prosecution would have used her as a witness.

    There have been times when the police have used this defense when they have shot someone when they go to the wrong house to execute a search warrant. The main difference is that it doesnt go to trial. They say oopsie, we'll work on training better on that. And then it goes away. There have even been times that a police officer has been shot by fellow officers, and no charges.
    All based on a reasonable belief of wrong-doing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "It took a Florida jury just two hours to acquit a retired US Army lieutenant colonel who invoked a controversial self-defense law to explain his decision to kill his wife’s lover."

    This actually looks a lot like what George Zimmerman is electing to do. A stand your ground hearing involves a judge looking at the facts to determine if the stand your ground defense can be applied. For whatever reason, this case went to a jury trial and he was aqquited by a jury of his peers.
    In many states, this man's defense would fall under the castle doctrine, in that a person is allowed to use force and has no duty to retreat in his home. In this case, the castle docrine defense is part of the stand your ground law.
    So the castle doctrine defense isnt that controversial in that it is pretty widespread nationwide and has been around a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Before shooting and killing does the shooter have a responsibility to determine if this sex was consensual, or not? His masculinity would not allow him to think this sexual act could be anything but rape. I don't think a person has a right to kill his spouses consensual sex partner. He was wrong and should not be excused from prosecution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He wasn't. He was prosecuted to the full extend of the law.

      Delete
    2. He wasn't excused from prosecution. He was prosecuted before a jury of his peers and acquitted. Big difference there. Maybe you should have actually read the article.

      Delete
    3. This is what I read in the article:

      "Wald’s attorneys successfully argued that their client’s case fell under the jurisdiction of the Stand-Your-Ground law"

      Delete
  8. 1. "If, upon his approach, the supposed rape stopped, then he killed the guy after the fact, in a rage for the crime he witnessed."

    "Conley “was grabbing my wife by the shoulders, using her as a shield,” Wald said. “He was cringing down behind her.”

    So things progressed from a possible rape to what appeared to be a hostage/kidnapping situation.

    2. "does it also sound reasonable to you that the only way he could have stopped the, what he thought was a rape, was by shooting the guy? How could he have physically done it without endangering his wife?"

    "On his way there, he said, “I remember thinking a headline or a news flash - elderly man and spouse killed in home invasion. … I knew I was going back to get my gun. I'm 70 years old. I can't go toe to toe with someone in their 20s … someone I thought was raping my wife.”

    From his point of view, his wife was endangered. Are you expecting a seventy year old man to engage in a "fair" fight with a much younger opponent? Should anyone be required to against a perceived home invasion?

    3. "That's wrong and that's what the SYG helps people get away with."

    Actually this event would fall under the castle doctrine and is pretty much the same as in my home state of Minnesota. Just because the castle doctrine is listed under the SYG law doesnt make it functionally different.

    As I said earlier, I find it curious that the wife didnt testify for either side.

    ReplyDelete