The murder of Riviera Beach middle school teacher Calvin Williams this spring raised a tangle of legal and ethical questions. One of the most troubling: Does the threat of contracting HIV justify killing someone?
Lawrence Hunt, 20, told police that he shot Williams, 41, because the teacher was trying to rape him and he believed that Williams had HIV.
It's unclear whether these allegations are true; autopsy reports don't mention Williams' HIV status, but police did find HIV medication in his bedroom. However, a longtime local homicide prosecutor -- who is not involved in this case -- says Williams' HIV status alone is not a legal justification to use deadly force. In Florida, you can shoot someone in self-defense only if you believe the action is necessary to prevent "imminent death," "great bodily harm," or a "forcible felony," such as rape.
"The fact that you think that you're going to contract a disease from someone is not a legal ground to use deadly force," says Chuck Morton, chief assistant state attorney in Broward County. "But certainly, the forcible rape does give you the legal right to defend yourself using equal force or deadly force."
Michael Schutt, the Palm Beach County public defender representing Hunt, declined to comment. But Hunt's statements to the police indicate he will likely argue he acted in self-defense.
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He and Williams had been lovers for about two years, Hunt told police. But on the morning of May 14, Hunt wasn't in the mood for sex. He told police that he confronted the teacher at Williams' Riviera Beach apartment, demanding to know if he had HIV. Williams ignored him and kept asking for a blowjob. The men fought, until Williams threw Hunt on the bed and climbed on top of him, announcing, "I'm a get that ass."
"Get the fuck back," Hunt says he shouted. He pulled out a .38-caliber gun and shot Williams in the head.
No witnesses to this struggle are mentioned in police documents. When police discovered Williams' body hours later, he was lying on his bed fully clothed.
Hunt has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and is in the Palm Beach County Jail awaiting trial.