Judge: Florida "Stand Your Ground" Law Not Applicable in FIU Stabbing Case

February 20, 2012

A Miami judge recently declined to dismiss the criminal case against a defendant charged with fatally stabbing a Florida International University football player based on Florida's "stand your ground" law, ruling that the defendant failed to show that he reasonably believed his own life was in danger at the time of the killing.

1166528_standing_ground.jpgQuentin Wyche is charged with fatally stabbing fellow FIU student Kendall Berry during a brawl on the school's main campus in Miami. Last month, his lawyers argued that the charges should be dismissed under the state's "stand your ground law" because Berry acted in self-defense.

Enacted in 2005, section 776.013, Florida Statutes, allows a person "who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be" to "stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." In September 2011, a Palm Beach County judge threw out a murder case against a disabled veteran who shot and killed two men during a confrontation on the man's sailboat. In December, state prosecutors decided not to file charges against a Tampa man who fatally stabbed another man with an ice pick during a traffic dispute, saying that they could not disprove the man's claim that he acted in self defense.

Berry was killed when he was stabbed by scissors during a scuffle with Wyche. According to CBS Miami, "the defense's witnesses testified that Berry picked the fight with Wyche outside the school's recreation center in March of 2010, with more than a dozen of Berry's buddies and fellow football players backing him up."

The Miami Herald's Scott Hiassen and David Ovalle report, however, that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch "said the law does not apply in Wyche's case, because there is not sufficient evidence to show that Wyche had 'no choice' but to stab Berry during the scuffle." A student who witnessed the fight testified that Wyche ran from the scene and, as Berry chased him, took a pair of scissor out of his back pack, broke the scissors apart and ran back toward Berry, stabbing him in the heart.

In announcing the ruling, Judge Hirsch explained that Wyche remains free to argue at trial that he acted in self-defense.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it is imperative to have a qualified, experienced attorney representing you. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine, P.A. draw on a team of lawyers, investigators and medical/legal support experts who are fully capable of handling all aspects of your case. Our attorneys are familiar with Florida criminal law and can help assess your particular case, negotiate with the prosecution, and aggressively defend your rights in court. Conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale, our attorneys make themselves available for clients at all times, so when you hire us you can have the peace of mind to call your attorney when you need to.