Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fleeting Glory

Had an Attempted Murder in the Second degree trial yesterday.

The facts are these: two members of rival St. Petersburg gangs agree to meet on a Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. to fight in the side parking lot of Lundy Liquors. It’s all about street cred and disrespect and being a gangsta.

So the two guys meet at the appointed time, along with 25 or 30 of their closet friends. They spend several minutes posturing, tossing insults back and forth in this parking lot.

Eventually the two exchange a couple blows, then back off, then a few more blows. I couldn't help but be reminded of those wildlife videos I've seen or rams or deer locking horns then breaking off only to do it again.

At the point the defendant in my trial walks up to the scrum of folks milling about the fight. He isn’t involved at all - not part of either group - but decides to involve himself by approaching one of the combatants and throwing a punch.

The guy he hit turned and punched my defendant three times in quick succession. My defendant walks away from the fight. He crosses the street and comes back moments later with his tee shirt wrapped around his right hand.

The excellent high definition surveillance cameras at Lundy Liquors capture my defendant (from four separate angles) pulling the tee shirt from his hand reveal a semi automatic pistol. He begins firing into the crowd of people, hitting two. My defendant then leaves the scene.

(A quick aside: As my defendant starts firing, someone else attending the fight jumps into the back seat of a car, pulls out an AK47 and begins spraying the area with bullets but hits no one.)

The jury was out for a little less than two hours and came back finding him guilty as charged. The judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole under the 10/20/Life Firearm Act.

My defendant is 30 years old and, while I don’t have a copy of the mortality table handy, I would guess he’ll probably live another 50 years or so.

It’s stunning to me that adults spend their entire futures for “street cred” and “respect”. And it’s more stunning to me that my defendant would go all Wild West and just start blazing away with reckless disregard for the safety of others. The surveillance video clearly shows cars carrying uninvolved people driving down the road right next to the scene. There’s a bus stop nearby. Many people just trying to live their lives could have been injured or killed - collateral damage.

At sentencing my defendant didn't say a word. I guess his gangsta reputation is safely cemented.

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