Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman's Defense, and Two More Potential "Stand Your Ground" Cases in Broward County | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman's Defense, and Two More Potential "Stand Your Ground" Cases in Broward County

​Florida's 2005 "stand your ground" law has gotten plenty of attention over the past month because of the Trayvon Martin shooting. But the case involving George Zimmerman is not the only "stand your ground" case that's come about since 2005 -- it's been cited in at least 130 cases, according to the Tampa Bay Times, including 37 in the past year and a half.

It's getting more popular -- and two more cases might have come up in Broward County in the past week alone.

The first happened in Fort Lauderdale on March 24. Two unnamed men, a 50-year-old and a 33-year-old, got in a fight on the 900 block of E. Las Olas Blvd. around 1 a.m., according to police. During the fight, the 50-year-old pulled out a gun and shot the other man in the chest -- he survived, but Fort Lauderdale Police spokesman Det. Travis Mandell said it's not clear whether charges will be filed because the investigation is still ongoing.

"Both parties are claiming that the other individual was the aggressor," Mandell said.

Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Gottlieb said details surrounding the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin -- as in the Fort Lauderdale shooting -- are crucial to the case. Was Zimmerman really on his way back to his car? Where was Martin coming from?

"The law is, if he believed that his life was being threatened, that he had a genuine fear of imminent bodily harm, then he had a right to defend himself," said Gottlieb, former president of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. But there's a caveat:

"You can't be the aggressor and claim self-defense," he said. "Who was following who? Who was the aggressor? That's the question that needs to be answered."

The other Broward case happened on March 25 -- police say 47-year-old Ciriaco Estrada was seen menacing a woman and her two young children with a piece of wood in their front yard. The woman's husband, 37-year-old Emiliano Arellano, then pulled up to the house with his two brothers and saw the situation going down.

The wood-wielding man "became very agitated when he told him he was going to call the police," according to the news release. And when Estrada "turned his aggression toward" the 5-year-old daughter, police say Arellano pulled out a handgun and killed Estrada with a single shot to the chest.

Arellano was questioned afterward but was not arrested, and a Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said the decision to charge him with anything now rests with the State Attorney's Office.

"We have nothing in our SAO computer to show that we've had any involvement with this case at any level," wrote Broward State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy in an email. "But it may be early yet."

Gottlieb said the case appeared to be a "perfect, clear-cut 'stand your ground' case."

"All that 'stand your ground' did was say you didn't have to retreat," Gottlieb said. "That's the whole point of the law -- you don't have to run away. And that's determined at the moment before the shooting."

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