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Fletcher v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 12, 2019

William H. Fletcher, Petitioner,
v.
State of Florida, Respondent.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          Petition for Writ of Prohibition-Original Jurisdiction.

          Michael Ufferman of Michael Ufferman Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Petitioner.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Steve Edward Woods, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Respondent.

          Winokur, J.

         William H. Fletcher seeks a writ of prohibition, claiming that the trial court erred in denying him immunity from prosecution under section 776.032, Florida Statutes. We grant the petition.

         I.

         Fletcher was charged with one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, alleging that he shot the victim, Randy Parker, in the leg. Fletcher moved to dismiss the charge, asserting immunity from prosecution pursuant to section 776.032, Florida Statutes, the "Stand Your Ground" law.

         During the immunity hearing, Fletcher, a bail bondsman with a concealed weapons permit, testified that the shooting constituted justifiable use of force. Fletcher testified that he and his brother had driven to Parker's home out of concern for their sister who was in a troubled relationship with Parker. Fletcher believed that Parker was violent and that Parker almost always carried a firearm on his person.

         After arriving at Parker's home, Fletcher called 911 and walked to a nearby stop sign to inform police of the location. Fletcher then approached Parker's home and encountered his brother having a physical confrontation with Parker. Fletcher observed Parker reaching for his waistband. Fletcher brandished his firearm and warned Parker to stop. Parker made an aggressive move towards Fletcher's brother, causing Fletcher to fire a shot that struck Parker in his leg. After injuring Parker, Fletcher helped him back into his home. Fletcher then drove to the police station, waived his rights, and agreed to be interviewed.

         Fletcher's sister testified that she was in an abusive relationship with Parker and that she wanted to leave Parker's home when her brothers arrived. Parker would not let her leave and confronted Fletcher's brother on the front lawn. Fletcher's sister also testified that she believed Parker was armed.

         Parker and his mother, who both resided at the home where the shooting occurred, testified that Parker and Fletcher's sister were at home when someone knocked on the door, and when Parker answer it, Fletcher and his brother were standing outside. Parker testified that Fletcher's brother was confrontational with him and that when he saw Fletcher with a firearm, attempted to knock it out of his hand. Parker denied threatening to kill Fletcher's brother. Parker's mother also testified that Fletcher was behind Parker holding a gun to his head.

         The trial court denied immunity. The court noted that the testimony of Parker and his mother conflicted with the testimony of Fletcher, his sister, and the 911 recordings. The court concluded that the 911 recording provided "the most credible recounting of the events" and, as a result, Fletcher was not present during the "initial scrum" between Parker and Fletcher's brother. The court also stated that it was "clear that [Fletcher] issued a warning before firing his weapon." The court credited Fletcher and his sister's testimony regarding Parker's "violent and threatening behavior." Moreover, the court found that Parker "had a loose fitting shirt that could have hidden a gun." Thus, the court concluded that "[t]he fact that [Parker] did not actually have a firearm is irrelevant to the issues here, as all that is required was a reasonable fear that such a weapon was present and was about to be used."

         Even though the trial court found that Fletcher "appear[ed] to have a viable claim for immunity for his actions," it denied immunity because it determined that Fletcher was trespassing on Parker's property when the shooting occurred. As a result, Fletcher was not where he was legally ...


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