By Rebekah Wilce on June 26, 2013

As George Zimmerman's trial for shooting and killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in early 2012 gets underway, the "Stand Your Ground" law that initially kept Zimmerman from being arrested is still the subject of much controversy. Florida's law became the template for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "model bill" that has been introduced in dozens of other states. As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported, the bill was brought to ALEC by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Since Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law became effective in 2005, the rate of homicides claimed to be legally "justifiable" in Florida has jumped 300 percent. Below, CMD highlights seven victims of the NRA-conceived bill, which ALEC deemed a "model" way to change the law in all states. ALEC has subsequently tried to distance itself from the controversial measure.

Demetrius Antuan Thompson

Demetrius Antuan ThomasDemetrius ("DT") Antuan Thompson, 21, was near the house of a woman who was reportedly his step-father's ex-girlfriend in Jefferson County, Alabama one morning in May 2013. The woman, whose name was not released, was walking her dog and saw someone run by her home -- it may or may not have been Thompson -- and went inside to get a gun. She told police later that she was concerned because her boyfriend had been robbed recently. She walked back outside, and saw a man walk towards her that she says she did not recognize. She told police that she told him to stop, and that she was armed, but he continued to approach. She fired, and Thompson died at the end of her driveway.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office ruled that the unnamed woman had acted in self defense and that killing Thompson was justifiable under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. "I wished we knew what his intent was and why he didn't stop, but those are questions that will go unanswered," Chief Deputy Randy Christian told Alabama.com. According to Think Progress, "Unfortunately, little else is known about the case, and likely never will be now that the inquiry has ended with the state's Stand Your Ground law."

Daniel Adkins, Jr.

Daniel Adkins, Jr.Daniel Adkins, Jr., 29, was the only son of Daniel and Antonia Adkins of Phoenix. He was mentally disabled and lived with his parents. One night in April 2012, on his usual evening walk with the family dog, he stepped in front of a car in a Taco Bell drive-thru.

The driver, Cordell Jude, 22, claims he mistook the bright green dog leash in Adkins' upraised hand for a bat or a pipe, according to the police report. Jude, who carried a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun at his hip, shot him once in the torso and killed him. He stayed at the scene afterwards because Adkins' dog was still attached by the leash, and was apparently in the way of the car. But police did not arrest Jude.

John Roman, a fellow with the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, called the shooting a prime example of the trouble with "Stand Your Ground," which Arizona made law in 2006, with the NRA's support. He told USA Today that, because of the law, police can't arrest the shooter and question him in detail, even though the police report recommended second-degree murder charges against Jude.

Adkins was unarmed.

Bo Morrison

Bo Morrison (Source: Fox 6 News, Milwaukee)Bo Morrison was a 20 year-old graduate of Milwaukee Area Technical College who worked at a local home improvement store, according to his family. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the report of the Washington County District Attorney, on the early morning of March 3, 2012, Morrison was at a party with about 20 other young people in a detached garage adjacent to a house in the village of Slinger, Wisconsin.

A next door neighbor, Mark Kind, was awoken by loud music playing inside a car parked in the driveway adjacent to the garage, had a verbal confrontation with those inside the car, and went back inside to call the police. The police arrived, but were unable to gain entry to the garage, and withdrew to wait nearby. An adult, who had been asleep in the house, emerged from the house about an hour after the initial disturbance and forced entry to the garage, telling the young people that the police had the garage surrounded.

Several people, including Morrison, ran from the garage. Morrison, who had been drinking and had a blood alcohol content of .19, was under a bail bond condition of sobriety. He ended up on Kind's back porch, where friends said he had gone to hide from police. Kind heard noise on the porch and, despite knowing that police were less than 300 feet away, chose to get a gun and investigate. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, "When police arrived, they found Morrison still crouched between the dresser and refrigerator, but found a bullet hole in the wall 49 inches from the floor. Morrison had been shot through the heart and lung."

District Attorney Mark Bensen said in his report, "Various individuals made poor decisions that night which contributed to the sequence of events which ultimately resulted in the shooting death of Mr. Morrison." Bensen concluded that Kind shot Morrison in self defense and that Wisconsin's new "Castle Doctrine" law, which included key elements of the ALEC/NRA model bill and was signed by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker in December 2011, applied.

Morrison was unarmed.

Brandon Zeth

Brandon Zeth (Source: Myers-Somers Funeral Home)Brandon Zeth was 24 years old, a mechanic and outdoorsman in Altoona, Pennsylvania. In early 2012, he was inebriated and tried to return to his girlfriend's house late at night, but accidentally ended up on the back porch of the nearly identical house next door, pounding on the window of a stranger rather than his girlfriend, according to WTAJ News.

The homeowner Timothy Lepore, who is in his early sixties, reportedly shot him five times, twice in the arms and three times in the chest, with a 22 caliber gun. Police report there is no evidence that Zeth tried to break in to the house.

"We don't know if he is going to live or if he is going to die, just because this man shot him outside on his porch," Zeth's father Don told WTAJ News, who said he wanted everyone to see, "what he did to that boy for being at the wrong place at the wrong time." Zeth later died of complications from the gun shot wounds after spending a month at a Pittsburgh hospital, according to the Associated Press.

Lepore's attorney, Steve Passarello, told WTAJ News that "his client was legally in the right to shoot him to keep him out of his home according to the new Castle Doctrine." The Blair County District Attorney's office announced June 13 that it will not press charges against Lepore because "it is legally prohibited" from doing so by the "current State of Pennsylvania law," even though Lepore's actions were "regrettable."

Zeth was unarmed.

Pedro Roteta

Pedro Roteta (Source: MySpace.com)Pedro Roteta was 26 years old, a young barber who loved his nephews. But in early 2012, he tried to steal a radio out of Greyston Garcia's truck in Miami, Florida. Garcia's roommate alerted him to the attempted theft, and according to the Miami Herald, he grabbed a large knife and ran outside towards Roteta.

Roteta ran, and Garcia chased him for more than a block, according to the Huffington Post. He then stabbed him in the back, killing him.

A Miami-Dade County Judge recently threw out the murder charge against Garcia, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Miami police sergeant Ervens Ford, who supervised the case, called the law and the decision a "travesty of justice" and said to the Miami Herald, "How can it be Stand Your Ground? It's on [surveillance] video! You can see him stabbing the victim..."

Roteta was unarmed, except for a pocketknife that remained unopened in his pocket. Garcia admitted to homicide detectives that he attacked Roteta even though "he actually never saw a weapon."

Billy Kuch

Billy Kuch (Source: Tampa Bay Times)Billy Kuch was 23 years old in 2009. His parents say he was bipolar and had a drinking problem. One night, he stumbled to the front door of the wrong house in a neighborhood of identical houses in Land O'Lakes, Florida.

According to the Tampa Tribune, the homeowner, Gregory Stewart, "opened the door and told Kuch to leave, then went outside and searched the area to make sure he did. Kuch returned later and again tried to open the front door. This time, Stewart grabbed his .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and told his wife to call 911." But Kuch "had an unlit cigarette in one hand and a shirt in the other. He wanted to borrow a lighter."

Kuch put his hands up in the air, palms facing forward. According to the Tribune, "He was mumbling incoherently and swaying. But he took a few steps toward Stewart before Stewart fired one shot."

According to the Times, "The bullet ripped into Kuch's chest, nicked his heart, shot through his liver, in and out of his stomach, through his spleen, then out his back. He felt like his body was on fire." He was hospitalized in an intensive care unit for more than a month, spending much of that time in a coma, but he survived.

Stewart was originally charged with aggravated battery, but two months after the incident, the State Attorney's Office decided the shooting was "justified" by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Kuch was unarmed.

Christopher Cote

Christopher Cote (Source: Palm Beach Post)Christopher Cote was 19 years old in 2006 when his family moved to a neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Florida. In the early hours of September 17, 2006, according to the Florida Sun Sentinel, Cote confronted his neighbor, Jose Tapanes, over whether or not Cote was walking his dog on Tapanes' property.

The two had apparently argued earlier in the day, and according to the Palm Beach Post, Cote had thrown a beer bottle at Tapanes that night.

Tapanes shot Cote with his shotgun. According to Assistant State Attorney Andrew Slater, the first bullet grazed Cote's abdomen, and he was incapacitated, but Tapanes still shot a second time. "Cote is stumbling. He is no longer a danger, and the defendant can see what is going on," Slater said. "Why fire a second time?"

Cote died in his mother's arms. Due to a mistrial, Tapanes was tried twice for first degree murder. He was convicted of manslaughter the first time, and faced 15 years in prison. At the second trial, however, he was acquitted under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Cote, like six other victims above, was unarmed.

ALEC Attempts to Distance Itself from Controversial Law

The controversy generated by "Stand Your Ground" policies in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin led ALEC to disband the Public Safety and Elections Task Force that had approved the bill and disavow its past gun bills. But these ALEC bills became law in states across the country, and until they are repealed by state legislatures, their ALEC roots are still a significant part of the story.


This article was first published on March 29, 2012, and has been updated to reflect new information.

Rebekah Wilce

Rebekah Wilce is a reporter and researcher who directs CMD's Food Rights Network project.

Comments

Rebekah - great article and I linked to it today and cited you in an article I published on the Voters Legislative Transparency Project website: http://www.vltp.net/alec/in-the-highly-focused-controversy-surrounding-the-trayvon-martin-murder-and-stand-your-ground-the-nra-refuses-to-blink-first

Keep up the good work and pressure on ALEC and their corporate members...I see that Coca~Cola gave in today and left ALEC! WTG Progressives!

I appreciate the citation.

Perhaps you are not aware, maybe you just haven't researched the subject, or you like to distort the facts.

Guns Save Lives Stories:
Where's the cavalry? 8/21/2002
Who Will Tuck Them In Tonight? 5/22/2002
Armed Homeowners Help Nab Serial Armed Robber (Rockledge, Florida - May 21, 2002) 5/22/2002
Armed robber killed by store owner (2 Articles, With Update) (Cleveland, Ohio - May 14, 2002) 5/16/2002
Man kills one of two assailants (Hampton, Virginia - May 13, 2002) 5/16/2002
Shop owner who killed robber had been shot before (Update) (McAllen, Texas - May 10, 2002) 5/16/2002
Hero teacher back to school after using firearm to capture assailant who shot police officer (Jersey City, New Jersey - May10, 2002) 5/16/2002
Shop owner kills robber (McAllen, Texas - May 09, 2002) 5/16/2002
Teen shot after breaking into apartment (Jacksonville, Florida - May 03, 2002) 5/16/2002
Two home invaders killed in shootout with resident (2 Articles) (Houston, Texas - May 04, 2002) 5/16/2002
Police believe man acted in self-defense in shooting death (Las Vegas, Nevada - May 02, 2002) 5/16/2002
Store owner rescues robbery victim (2 Articles) (Houston, Texas - April 29, 2002) 5/16/2002
Man breaks into house of estranged wife and is killed (Spokane, Washington - April 28, 2002) 5/16/2002
Man who captures intruder 'was just protecting my family' (Glendale, Oregon - April 19, 2002) 4/26/2002
Suspect in theft shot, killed by businessman (Las Vegas, Nevada - April 25, 2002) 4/26/2002
Home intruder shot dead by woman (3 Articles) (Seattle, Washington - April 25, 2002) 4/26/2002
Jury acquits man of murder, cites self-defense (Dallas, Texas - April 18, 2002) 4/26/2002
Unseen stories 4/24/2002
Store owner takes shot at robber (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - April 17, 2002) 4/21/2002
Woman Shoots Intruder Dead (Santa Fe, New Mexico - April 19, 2002) 4/21/2002
Shooting of estranged husband self-defense (LaPorte, Indiana - April 07, 2002) 4/21/2002
Victim strikes back in running CBD gun fight (Durban, South Africa - April 17, 2002) 4/21/2002
Store Employee With Gun Thwarts Would-Be Robber (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania - April 17, 2002) 4/21/2002
2002 Darwin Award Nominee -- Tries to Steal Gun from Gunowner, Shot dead (Albuquerque, New Mexico - February 04, 2002) 4/21/2002
Jeweler recalls minutes of terror (Snohomish, Washington - April 16, 2002) 4/21/2002
Kidane Acquitted (Fresno, California - April 12, 2002) 4/21/2002
Teen kills would-be rapist (Bushbuckridge, South Africa - March 26, 2002) 4/21/2002
"NO!" spoken in Shotgunese sends stalker to hospital (Desert Hot Springs, California - April 14, 2002) 4/21/2002
Officer labels shooting as self-defense (Titusville, Florida - April 10, 2002) 4/21/2002
Woman will not be charged in fatal shooting (LaPorte, Indiana - April 10, 2002) 4/21/2002
Businessman wounds robber (3 Articles) (Snohomish, Washington - April 13, 2002) 4/21/2002
Fatal shooting a case of self-defense (Houston, Texas - April 09, 2002) 4/21/2002
No charges filed in fatal shooting (Muncie, Indiana - April 09, 2002) 4/21/2002
D.A. rules February shooting death justifiable (Topeka, Kansas - April 08, 2002) 4/21/2002
Self-defense cited in shooting death (Mims, Florida - April 07, 2002) 4/21/2002
South African store owner defends himself against four robbers (Pretoria, South Africa - March 7, 2002) 4/21/2002
The Vershire Murder 4/14/2002
Gun Helped Thwart Murderers Who Went and Killed Elsewhere (Vershire, Vermont - July 19, 2000) 4/7/2002
Clerk wounds robber who had history of crime (Muncie, Indiana - April 05, 2002) 4/7/2002
One-shot granny kills intruder (Potchefstroom, South Africa - April 05, 2002) 4/7/2002
Teen is charged with felony murder after homeowner shoots accomplice (Kansas City, Missouri - April 05, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man kills roommate who turned violent (Houston, Texas - April 05, 2002) 4/7/2002
Neighbor: Intruder Chose Wrong House (2 Articles) (Kansas City, Missouri - April 03, 2002) 4/7/2002
West Valley police seek burger-joint thieves (West Valley City, Utah - April 03, 2002) 4/7/2002
Two charged in slaying of burglary accomplice (Las Vegas, Nevada - April 04, 2002) 4/7/2002
91-year-old neighbor saves woman from ex-boyfriend (2 Articles) (Clintonville, Ohio - April 03, 2002) 4/7/2002
Paintgun attacker shot by real gun (2 articles) (Lakewood, Colorado - April 03, 2002) 4/7/2002
Pickup's owner kills suspected burglar (Houston, Texas - April 3, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man kills robber in TV-style home invasion (Memphis, Tennessee - April 02, 2002) 4/7/2002
Owners recount robbery attempt (Lebanon, Oregon - April 02, 2002) 4/7/2002
Homeowner helped break robbery ring, Sheriff calls him a hero (Dentsville, South Carolina - April 02, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man shoots, kills intruder while second suspect flees (Birmingham, Alabama - March 28, 2002) 4/7/2002
Clerk Won't Be Charged For Shooting Robber (Towson, Maryland - March 28, 2002) 4/7/2002
Clerk Foils Attempted Carjacking (Edmond, Oklahoma - March 29, 2002) 4/7/2002
Taking care of business - Update on the Geckle Brothers (Baltimore, Maryland - March 19, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man aids wounded neighbors, shoots attacker (Phoenix, Arizona - March 29, 2002) 4/7/2002
Threat of gun ends robbery attempt (Selma, Alabama - March 28, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man holds alleged thief at gunpoint (Rome, Georgia - March 20, 2002) 4/7/2002
Drivers, choose your weapons! (Spring Hill, Florida - March 21, 2002) 4/7/2002
Man shot while breaking into home (Dentsville, South Carolina - March 22, 2002) 4/7/2002
Jury rules shooting self-defense (Hancock, Mississippi - Februrary 08, 2002) 4/7/2002

anything recent?

Trolls doing a cut-n-paste job with ancient info cuz they don't have time for real and current research.

Self-defense has always been around but never involved stalking an unarmed guy you didn't know down the street and murdering him even after the police told you to not do exactly what you then decided to do and ignore them and do anyway.

Just think I bet Trevor didn't even know about that Law, but if he had been the one still standing with a gun Zimmerman brought to the fight I don't think he would have had a hard time proving was self-defense even with old traditional laws since the police foresaw Zimmerman's intent to confront and arrest Martin and they told him not to do that..

Most people didn't know these stupid, dangerous laws had been passed till the Martin case exposed them. I certainly would not have understood if some regular guy that wasn't a policemen followed me down the road and attempted to arrest me for no reason.... I would think he was a crazy guy planning to kill or harm me..... if Trevor thought that too and fought back ..He was right...... He just needed a gun and the ability to out shoot Zimmerman that night.

As has been brought out time and time again, Zimmerman did NOT stalk Trayvon Martin. Get the facts straight, at least.

I read several articles here, almost all of them start out, so and so was drunk, had a drinking problem, or had to much to drink. People should be responsibly for their actions. If they were smarter, these people would not have been shot. If you cant handle your liquor don't drink. The other thing I noticed was almost all of them had trouble with the law previously or was otherwise engaged in unlawful activities at the time. I don't feel sorry for any of them.

Good to know you believe drunkenness merits the death penalty.

Also, how do you explain a father being gunned down on a basketball court?

Are all Americans as heartless bastards as you? What a sick society you live in. Shame on you all.

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