A Tampa Bay Times analysis of “stand your ground” cases found that it has been people with records of crime and violence who have benefited most from the controversial legislation. A review of arrest records for those involved in more than 100 fatal “stand your ground” cases shows that nearly 60 percent of those who claimed self-defense had been arrested at least once before the day they killed someone. More than 30 of those defendants, about one in three, had been accused of violent crimes, including assault, battery, or robbery. Dozens had drug offenses on their records.
Killers have invoked “stand your ground” even after repeated run-ins with the law. Forty percent had three arrests or more. Dozens had at least four arrests. More than a third of the defendants had previously been in trouble for threatening someone with a gun or illegally carrying a weapon. In dozens of cases, both the defendant and the victim had criminal records, sometimes related to long-running feuds or criminal enterprises. Of victims that could be identified, 64 percent had at least one arrest. Several had 20 or more arrests. Florida’s “stand your ground” law has been under intense scrutiny since George Zimmerman claimed self-defense after killing Trayvon Martin Feb. 26. Police and prosecutors did not immediately charge Zimmerman because they could not disprove his self-defense claim.