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Tonight on AC360: Florida Shooter claims 'Stand Your Ground' defense
James family photo credit: family photo. Trevor Dooley photo credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
March 21st, 2012
06:10 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Florida Shooter claims 'Stand Your Ground' defense

Just minutes after we pulled up for our interview with Kanina James, the tears began to flow. We found her sitting on the front porch, alone, and still in pain.

It’s been a year and a half or so since her husband of 13 years was shot dead by a 71-year-old retired bus driver. The shooter, Trevor Dooley, says he shot 41-year-old David James because he thought James was going to kill him. He’s using a statute in Florida known as the Stand Your Ground law to try and get the charges against him dropped.

It all started on a neighborhood basketball court in a suburb of Tampa. The two men got into an altercation over a teenager skateboarding on the court. Dooley was shouting at the teenager to get off the court, and James intervened. After a struggle, Dooley shot James once in the heart. He died in front of his 8-year-old daughter. Kanina James told me she’s worried about her daughter because she doesn’t want to talk about that day and keeps it all bundled inside. She’s seeing a therapist but it’s not really working. Kanina James believes the Stand Your Ground law is like a free pass to murder.

I hope you’ll tune in tonight for AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for this emotional interview; you can decide who you think was the aggressor in this case and if Trevor Dooley should stand trial. Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @RandiKayeCNN

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Rich

    What a stupid law.. so easy for any murderer or hatefull persons to manipulate this law so they can kill legally.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  2. Jon

    with all the telephone tapes Zimmerman never identified himself as to who he was to Trayvon or had clothes for the same thing, Martin thought he was being stocked no difference than you or I would

    March 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Tara

      First of all, very little information has been released. Although it appears that some injustice has taken place in the Travon Martin case, I fully support the need for a full investigation and trial to give way to the truth. We all need to let the law do its job and get to the bottom of what really happened. It is easy to become hypersensitive when tragic events ensue; the family of Travon has every right to be. However, as law-abiding citizens, we all should understand the necessity of letting investigators determine the truth in the events that led to the death of Travon Martin. There are too many holes and missing pieces to fully explain what happened the night he was killed. Declaring racism is all too easy of an explanation. This is a seriouis accusation. Although I do not doubt that racism more than likely played a major role in this trajedy, we cannot hold definite water to it. All evidence needs to be reviewed and carefully considered. I believe, without a doubt, that this case will go to trial and justice will be served to Zimmermann. My greatest sympathies to the Travon Martin's famiily.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  3. Malik

    Once you bring a gun into the picture. Its not about "stand your ground", it now turns in to shoot to kill.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  4. David

    So let me get this right. The black man Mr Dooley was arrested for shooting a man in the chest in "self defense" citing the Stand Your Ground Law, but Mr Zimmerman who shot a kid in the BACK in "self defense" was not arrested ??? Make no mistake, Mr Dooley was wrong to take out his gun on a basket ball court. But the law doesnt address who and who should not have a gun and where. Mr Dooley's claim is that the man was on top of him and he felt then and there "threatened". There are so many flaws with this law. The same people who claim gun rights and how it is their right to bear arms...well Mr. Dooley was doing just that.Regardless of whether it was the right place or right time. The flaw of the law lies in who feels threatened and is the use of deadly force justifiable.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  5. Wendy Arsenault

    The killer of Trayvon said on the 911 call that Trayvon had his "hand in his waistband". He had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea, and also was talking on his phone – exactly what hand was in his waistband? Was he a circus juggler? And police chief Lee just cannot seem to understand that the law that says you don't have to be running away when under attack and afraid for your life, doesn't mean that someone who killed someone else is automatically the person attacked because he says so, without any corroboration. If that were indeed the law, which is a bad law even without this bizarre iinterpretation, there would be very, very few murder arrests; only those of killers too stupid to say they were scared.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  6. Kevin G

    There is a big difference between someone being under attack and firing a weapon in self defense versus someone who crosses the street, or chases down someone else and deliberately starts an altercation and starts firing their weapon. That is not 'standing' ground, that is not self defense. That is the basis of attacking, and it's murder.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  7. Ana L. Resendez

    "This is a double edged sword, the law was put in place to protect yourself and famliy from dangerous bodily harm, but like everything else in life, people with disturbing mental isssues, or simply distorted ego will abuse the law to their own advantage, my heart goes out to the family of David James also, to see your father die in front of you, at any age, shot to death is beyond sad, I hope that this man Trevor Dooley will be tried and convicted to the full maximum of the law, simply deplorable.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  8. JerryR

    The "stand your.ground" law sets law enforcement back 150 years..... I guess both people in a shot out (duel) are innocent.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  9. Cristina

    This only proves that many of our laws are broken! True there are alot of racists people to feel that killing others than their own kind because they are unworthy of life. God gave us life he is the only one who can take it away. Hence, we live in a free country, that is what's so great about the US-some of these ppl just take things to a whole new level!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  10. Carlos Cortez

    Florida lawmakers designed "Stand You Ground" to allow citizens to protect themselves when in fear of being physically harmed. Who exactly should this law protect in the Martin/Zimmerman situation? Or which of the two people should have been in fear? A boy walking away from a perceived threat while holding an iced tea and bag of Skittles, or a man walking toward a perceived threat with a confrontational demeanor and a firearm?

    March 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  11. ng

    that a 16 year old child is waking in the street no manner what color or race don't give a men to kill him. that man had a gun his intentions was to kill. I cant believe that Trayvon Martin was going to harm him. no one in the right mine will believe that

    March 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  12. Susan H

    Zimmerman murdered Treyvon, that's it. Zimmerman should be arrested as nothing supports his allegations that he felt threatened. He was told to back off by 911, which he didn't do, and he was carrying a gun which, in my opinion, says he was looking to harm someone. Florida has always been a problem state. Can't we trade it for some nice Caribbean island? As to Anderson Cooper, he is acting as a journalist and is presenting the facts but anyone who thinks he supports Zimmerman is wrong. His underlying manner and questions say to me he does not.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  13. Tanya

    The friend of zimmerman, that stated that Travon Martin should have just answered him is full of crock. I am sure zimmerman didnt identify himself before persuing the child that he murdered in Cold blood.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  14. C.Perry

    CNN, what are you trying to point out? I hope, simply, this law is stupid and harmful to all.
    There is still a DIFFERENCE here: Dolley was arrested and is now being tried for murdering Mr. James. Mr. Zimmerman has not be charged with a thing.

    No, Mr. Dolley should not have walked over to that basketball court with a gun - what was the need!???
    Same applies to Mr. Zimmerman, why was he stalking that young man, simply because of his appearance, with a gun?

    I do not think Mr. Dolley is going to "walk" for killing Mr. James.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  15. mignonne

    Hearing all the news of Trayvone, why does not America arm every child, teenager, adult, senior and mentally disabled person with a gun. This would be self defence for all. It is sad to hear of a teenager going about doing what teenagers do ending up dead. I am a Mom of 2 teenage kids and 1 challenged kid, I am a proud Canadian.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  16. Mike Nichols (Nashville, TN)

    Anderson Cooper states we are just giving a different perspective... What a copout. An unarmed teenager is gunned down, and Cooper's guest states that all the victim had to do was state his reason for being there. Since when does a citizen have to explain to anyone a reason for being anywhere unless it is a police officer asking the questions. As usual, A. Cooper has his head in the sand...

    March 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  17. Mel

    Anderson,

    I saw the interview with the friend of person who killed Trayvon Martin and I wished you had asked him one more question. He stated that if Trayvon had only stopped and answered the question, honestly and explain what he was doing there, he would still be alive. Your next question should have been, "WHY DID HE HAVE TO EXPLAIN ANYTHING TO A STRANGER WHO FOLLOWED ANC CHASED HIM?" We tell our kids to avoid and stay away from strange people and a grown man following a child and chasing him is a STRANGER and he should not have to tell him anything. Furthermore, does he not have the right to walk where he wants in a free country? i can not understand why people are saying Trayvon should have, if only he had and why didn't he instead of asking why would a grown man shoot a person who looks like the child he turned out to be.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • JerryR

      Very well.stated......I couldn't agree more.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  18. Chakam

    Seems like an effort to reflect attention away from the murder of a black boy by a racist white man by bringing attention to a year and a half old case in which a black man killed a white man.

    I thought you were better than that, Anderson.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Melissa

      I don't believe bringing up Trevor Dooley has anything to do with race. I think it is to shows that the "Stand your Ground" law is bad. Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch and had no business carrying a gun. He was also told by 911 not to follow Trayvon any further. He disobeyed the order and continued to pursue Trayvon. Therefore, I do not believe Zimmerman should be protected under the "Stand your Ground" law. I don't know what is in his heart; if he is a racist, I don't know. It is an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to his family and friends. I also think Dooley was wrong to bring a gun to a public park. He should have called the authorities if he had a problem. It is also unlawful in most public parks to carry firearms. These are both absolute tragedies.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  19. Barbara Ewart

    Anderson, we have just seen another side of a bad law. 'Stand your ground' encourages lawlessness and vigilante-ism in the name of self-protection; in a manner I'm sure FLA lawmakers never intended. Clearly, where no imminent threat is obvious, this law shoudn't apply. In the case of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was told by the 911 operator not too follow him further. Is it optional to obey these 911 links to Police, Fire or Ambulance? Are they not acting as official go-betweens for these agencies? George Zimmerman chose to dismiss the admonition of the 911 operator, which should be equivalent to disobeying a direct police order. He should therefore be held to a different standard than 'Stand Your Ground'. Ditto Trevor Dooley, in regards to the shooting of David James. Dooley acted alone, with no imminent or visible fear for his life. It amounted to a squabble on a basketball court which escalated to murder. And why was Dooley carrying a gun on a basketall court to begin with? Even a Boy Scout isn't THAT prepared! \it's beginning to seem like an 'every man for himself' scenario!

    March 21, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Melissa

      Barbara, I could not have said it better. Both of these people had no business carrying a gun. Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch and should have let the police handle the situation. When a person pulls a gun out and aims it at another person it is always with the intent to kill. "Stand your Ground" is a bad law. And, by the way, it has nothing to do with race.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Rich7553

      Barbara, it is important to understand that the Stand Your Ground law does not encourage lawlessness or vigilantism. Once Zimmerman began pursuit of Martin, he abrogated his right to protection under that law. There is case law in Florida to support this. The law has been in place since 2005, yet this is the first case in which there has been an outcry. Zimmerman exceeded the limitations of the law, but it is not the fault of the law. The law was designed to protect law-abiding citizens from malicious prosecution and crippling legal fees in cases where they defended their lives. There have been many cases where the shooter invoked SYG, and was convicted because they had gone beyond the constraints of the law, as I'm sure it will in this case if the evidence supports that conclusion.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:55 am |
      • Lydia

        Wonder why he was not arrested then and is still free if this is the case. I understand what you are saying but it is the applicaton of the law that is odd. Also odd that he had an altercation with police and was never arrested at that time either. Is he an informant or does he know something is the question that I have. Things don't add up in this case.

        March 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm |