Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stand-Your-Ground Law Used in Florida

Tampa, Florida

From the September 2, 2009 St. Petersburg Times:

TAMPA — Charles Podany wanted to protect his neighborhood from speeders.

On Feb. 29, 2008, he bicycled through Thonotosassa's Bay Hills Circle community and asked a fast-driving man in a pickup truck to slow down.

The encounter turned deadly after the driver's drunken friend began beating Podany, 49. As Casey Landes, 24, landed on top of Podany and readied his fist to strike again, Podany shot him in the head with a .40-caliber Glock.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Robert Foster agreed Tuesday to toss out Podany's manslaughter charge after his attorneys argued Podany fired in self-defense under Florida's "stand-your-ground" law and deserved immunity from prosecution. The law allows people to meet force with force when they feel threatened.

Defense attorney Stephen Romine said Podany's case met the stand-your-ground test: Podany wasn't engaged in unlawful activity; he had a right to be there; and if he hadn't acted, he may have been seriously injured or killed.

Foster heard testimony on the defense motion two weeks ago, including from Evin Aguayo, the pickup driver and Landes' best friend.

Aguayo, 21, told investigators that Landes was the aggressor in the confrontation and that Podany never hit back.

"You never saw (Mr. Podany) take a swing at him?" a sheriff's detective asked Aguayo.

"Never," Aguayo responded, adding, "Not one time. Not one single swing."

Romine included those excerpts of Aguayo's statements to detectives in his motion to dismiss.

Before the deadly altercation, Aguayo said Podany approached him about speeding through the neighborhood.

"I said, 'Well, I'm sorry sir. We won't do it again. Forgive me,' " Aguayo told detectives.

As Podany peddled away on his bike, Landes appeared and began yelling at him. Aguayo said he tried to stop his friend. "Man forget about it," he told him.

"It wasn't even a fight, it was one-sided," Aguayo said.

Podany is 5 feet 8 and weighs 180 pounds. Landes was 6 feet 1 and weighed 192 pounds.

"He's outsized, outmuscled," Romine said. "It's not going to be a fair fight in any capacity and the guy is just relentless trying to beat him."

Aguayo told deputies his friend thought it was "cool to beat up an old man."

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