Jurors Tell Longwell Lawyers Why They Acquitted

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 at 9:03 am Posted in Articles, Criminal Law

Timothy Davis Murder Trial

In an interview with Attorney Mark Longwell, of Longwell Lawyers, two of the jurors in the Timothy Davis murder trial revealed why they acquitted the retired Orlando police officer. Javier Zerquera, who was the foreperson, and Daniel Greene, who is an Orlando attorney, both sat on the jury. In a videotaped interview on Friday afternoon, they explained their reasoning behind their not guilty verdict.

The State Attorney’s office charged Timothy Davis, Sr. with second degree murder for fatally shooting his 22 year old son, Timothy Davis, Jr. The facts of the case were generally undisputed and the shooting was partially captured by the home security video system, showing Timothy Davis, Sr. firing a round at his son. Davis, Sr. did not dispute shooting his son twice. However, he asserted a self-defense claim, and relied upon Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law in asking for the jury to find him not guilty due to his justifiable use of deadly force, despite the fact that he did not retreat.

The case involved many controversial issues such as gun rights and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. According to the two jurors interviewed, the jury did not get mired in the political debate surrounding these laws, and simply applied their factual determinations to the laws as they were instructed.

The two jurors said that the evidence established that on October 1, 2011, Davis, Jr. was in a dispute with his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his child, after she showed up at the Davis’s family residence in Apopka. Davis, Sr. apparently intervened and attempted to keep the peace after Davis, Jr. became menacing and threatening in his demeanor and posture.

The physically imposing Davis, Jr. subsequently attacked and injured his father. Davis, Sr. then asked his wife to call an ambulance and went to the garage to await its arrival.  Instead of backing off , Davis, Jr. continued to aggressively engage Davis, Sr., causing the former cop to go to his car to get his firearm and fire two shots at his son, killing him.

Both jurors felt that the State did not prove the second degree murder charge, and the jury decided quickly that it would not find the defendant guilty as charged. The jury focused on finding him guilty of manslaughter, instead. Manslaughter is a lesser included offense, which would have been punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, the jury turned its attention to the jury instructions on the justifiable use of deadly force (self-defense) and concluded that Davis, Sr. was acting in self-defense.

Both jurors felt that the prosecutor did not present any evidence to rebut the testimony of several witnesses, as well as the video and physical evidence, that clearly established the aggression that Davis, Jr had directed at his father. Moreover, Zerquera felt the State never established that Davis. Jr. stopped engaging Davis, Sr. prior to the shooting.

According to the two jurors, some of the other jurors were not comfortable with the notion that Davis, Sr. used a gun to defend himself, rather than retreating. However, upon close consideration of the jury instruction on Florida’s “stand your ground” law (which establishes that there is no duty to retreat when the defendant is attacked- and that he may stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others), the jury concluded that Davis, Sr. had no legal duty to retreat and that he was legally justified in using deadly force.

The jurors recognized the tragedy involved in the death of Davis, Jr. and disclosed that at least one of the other jurors had a level of discomfort in the verdict form that only allowed them to find Davis, Sr. “not guilty” without clarifying that the acquittal was based upon the justifiable use of deadly force. Despite this, the jury found that while Davis, Sr. did kill his son, he was legally justified in doing so according to the evidence and laws presented.

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