FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A South Florida retiree is putting the state’s Stand Your Ground law to the test.
James Wonder, 70, who shot and killed a federal agent four years ago, is hoping a judge will dismiss the manslaughter case against him.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law states you may meet force with force if you believe it is necessary to protect yourself.
It’s the same defense George Zimmerman is using for killing teenager Trayvon Martin.
Back on August 5, 2008, James Wonder was involved in a road rage incident with Donald Pettit who was off-duty and driving his daughter to summer camp. Investigators say Pettit and Wonder exchanged obscene gestures on the road and that Pettit followed Wonder into a Pembroke Pines Post Office parking lot. That’s where they had a confrontation and Pettit was shot in the head.
In court Tuesday, Wonder’s defense attorney Frank Maister called several Crime Scene Investigators who processed the scene to testify.
He showed a picture of the black Chrysler Pettit was driving that was parked halfway to the curb and was over the parking line, an indication that Pettit had pulled over abruptly.
Maister questioned the CSI’s about a dent in Pettit’s car which they testified ‘could’ have been the mark of a bullet that ricocheted.
Pettit’s widow Ileana attended the hearing, but her daughters did not.
Gabriella Pettit, who was 12 years old at the time and a passenger in her father’s car when he was shot, gave a statement to investigators which will become part of the record at this hearing.
While she did not ‘see’ the heated exchange, Gabriella Pettit said, “My dad was talking at him, like yelling at him. He said who do you think you are slick, and then boom!”
Prosecutors say Wonder acted like a guilty man, fleeing the scene, dyeing his hair and even renting a car when he went to a dialysis appointment.
The hearing is expected to last at least a week.
If the case is not dismissed Wonder will go to trial on a manslaughter charge. If convicted he faces up to 15 years in prison.