Pinellas County’s Attorney General has decided to settle on a manslaughter charge against the killer of Markeis McGlockton, Michael Drejka, but it is expected that Drejka’s attorneys will probably use Florida’s 2005 ‘stand your ground’ legislation to defend him.
Drejka was involved in a deadly altercation in a car park outside a Clearwater convenience store on July 19, 2018. Drejka, allegedly had a history of aggressive behavior and an interest in challenging drivers when using a designated handicapped driver parking space. He apparently got involved in the altercation when McGlockton and his young son disappeared into the convenience store leaving his girlfriend in the car which was parked in a handicapped driver space. According to witnesses, Drejka started inspecting the parked car for a decal and then started arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend.
McGlockton allegedly pushed Drejka to the ground when he returned, but Drejka then pulled out a gun and shot McGlockton dead.
Initially, the Pinellas County Sheriff did not arrest Drejka as he assumed that he was just defending himself. The case was turned over to the Pinellas State Attorne for further review.
Prosecutors now have to justify in court why they have chosen a manslaughter charge rather than first or second degree murder and prepare for what might be a stand your ground defense at the pre-trial hearing.
Why manslaughter and not murder?
In Florida law, manslaughter is the lesser of the homicide crimes and is used whenever someone kills another person without premeditation. It could be argued in this case that Drejka killed McGlockton on the spur of the moment and as a result of a particular interaction. It could be argued that he had not planned to kill McGlockton and was not necessarily of sound or ‘depraved’ mind when he shot McGlockton. Murder in the second degree allows for ‘heat of passion’ killings that take place. Manslaughter is a killing that does still involve a degree of negligence and is not accidental.
Manslaughter is a very serious charge and could lead to penalties of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. In Florida, manslaughter is a felony in the second degree.
Stand your ground could be used as a defense
The case will probably see another test of Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ legislation. The law as it was enacted in 2005 provides for lawful killing in the event that someone considers that they are in danger of being killed themselves. Prior to the stand your ground law coming into effect, the only justified killing was if the person was under attack in their own home or vehicle. The change in legislation meant that someone could defend themselves with deadly force without having to retreat.
The law was strengthened further in 2017 by compelling prosecutors to prove that deadly force was not necessary.
Witnesses and surveillance camera footage will be used when it comes to deciding whether Drejka was guilty of a crime. McGlockton’s family’s attorneys say that the camera footage shows that McGlockton did use force against Drejka, but there was no need for Drejka to kill him. They say that the footage shows that McGlockton appeared to be backing off when Drejka pulled out his gun. They also say that Drejka hesitated after pulling out his gun before shooting McGlockton. The fact that he had a record of aggressive behavior in the past and had been involved in altercations about the use of handicapped parking spaces may also be used against him. Drejka is 48 and remained behind bars as he could not raise the $100,000 needed for bail.
If you have been arrested on any serious criminal offense in Florida, you will definitely need effective legal representation. It is your right to be defended in court. You cannot be convicted unless the prosecution has sufficient evidence that can prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that you committed the offense. You can contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, at 305-644-1800.
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