Tavarious China Smith, a small-time drug dealer in the Tampa area, has committed two homicides–more than two years apart–but was not charged thanks to provisions of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Smith claimed self-defense in both cases and prosecutors agreed. He never faced a judge or jury for fatally shooting Nikita Williams, 18, in February 2008 in a drug-related incident or Breon Mitchell, Williams’ 23-year-old half-brother, in December 2010.
Smith’s only punishment stemmed from using a gun to kill Mitchell. Since he was by then a felon, convicted on drug charges, Smith wasn’t allowed to carry the Ruger .357 Magnum he used to shoot Mitchell outside a Palmetto nightclub in 2010. In January, a federal judge in Tampa sent Smith to prison after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The state’s expanded self-defense laws have come under scrutiny since the fatal shooting in February in Sanford of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Prosecutors say it has too often been used to protect gang members and drug dealers in shoot-outs.