Deaths of South Florida children killed by stray bullets have drawn outrage from the community and sparked vigils, widespread media coverage, and promises from politicians and police, says the Miami Herald. The grim legal reality is that investigating and winning convictions in so-called stray bullet cases is often more difficult than in other murders. Evidence is hard to find, and even when suspects are identified, prosecutors are often hamstrung by self-defense laws. Police and prosecutors say the state’s new Stand Your Ground law, which expands the right to defend yourself, could further complicate these cases.
Among the first crimes to be tested under the law: is last month’s high-profile shooting death of 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins, who was killed by a stray bullet during an alleged gunfight between two men. Prosecutor Kathleen Hoague said the problem in many stray bullet cases is finding proof. ”It comes down to witnesses who will come in and tell you what they saw. It comes down to finding bullets and casings. It comes down to being able to prove the facts of the case,” Hoague said. Even when police are able to make an arrest, some cases simply fall apart.