The Florida law allowing citizens to use deadly force in self-defense without retreating, which was thrust into headlines by the Trayvon Martin case, may face another challenge.
An elderly man in Ocala, Fla., told investigators he shot and critically wounded a man who had been following him in a car. James Stevens, 81, told deputies he noticed a car following him on Sunday for about 20 minutes, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.
Instead of leading the car to his home, he pulled his truck into a field and grabbed his .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver.
Stevens said the other driver got out of his 2010 Kia, came towards him and demanded “everything you got.”
Stevens told deputies he shot the man a number of times.
“I didn’t want to shoot him, but I had to. I shot him,” said Stevens.
Authorities said the man in the Kia was 28-year-old Lonnie Lorenza Hollingsworth Jr.
Deputies said they found him lying motionless in the grass. Hollingsworth was given CPR and hospitalized. Authorities said he did not have a weapon.
Florida’s stand-your-ground law allows people who feel threatened to use deadly force without having to flee or retreat. But the law has come under criticism since the Martin case. Critics say the law makes it too easy to use force, essentially giving a license to kill. Supporters argue potential victims have the right to defend themselves.
Attorneys for the man accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Martin shocked court observers last week by declining a stand-your-ground hearing that could have led to a dismissal of the case. Attorneys for George Zimmerman could still ask for the hearing before the June trial.
No charges have been filed yet in the Hollingsworth case while the sheriff’s office investigates.
The Ocala paper reported Hollingsworth was convicted in 2008 of carrying a concealed firearm and altering the serial number of a firearm.