Clearwater Man Sentenced To 20 Years In ‘Stand Your Ground’ Murder
On October 10, Michael Drejka was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of killing Markeis McGlockton over a parking space. While Drejka has stated his intent to appeal, the case is still being held up as a justifiable limitation on Florida’s “stand your ground” laws by those who fear the law being abused. “Stand your ground” laws are becoming more widespread, and while the uninitiated may think they essentially grant the ability to constantly use lethal force, it is imperative that people understand the law’s real aim, especially if you find yourself unlucky enough to ever be charged with murder.
The dispute occurred in Clearwater in July 2018, when McGlockton and his girlfriend pulled into a space at a grocery store. Drejka began to argue with the girlfriend over their right to park in the space, and when he saw the disagreement, McGlockton allegedly pushed Drejka. At that point, Drejka drew a gun and shot McGlockton as McGlockton was moving away from him. He was arrested and charged, but cited Florida’s “stand your ground” law as a defense, arguing justifiable homicide.
The jury did not accept Drejka’s claim, especially not after viewing store video which clearly showed McGlockton moving away from Drejka (casting doubt on Drejka’s story of the deceased advancing on him). The maximum sentence available would have been 30 years, but the jury opted for 20, which implies that the “stand your ground” defense may have carried some weight. If they determined that McGlockton was the aggressor, however, the proper verdict would have been to find Drejka not guilty. One can only wonder as to the thought process of the jury at this point.
What Is “Reasonable” Belief?
Florida’s “stand your ground” law allows people to react with appropriate force when they believe that they are going to be attacked. It only permits the use of deadly force when a person has a “reasonable belief” that using it will prevent imminent death. However, “reasonable” belief is inherently subjective – it means different things for each different person. Essentially, the judge or jury in any given trial will decide what “reasonable” actually means – but this is a very risky way to try and defend oneself against a murder charge.
If you have been charged with homicide, you need to ensure that your attorney is able to articulate exactly why you feared for your life, and why you chose to use deadly force instead of a less significant course of action. You are entitled to your day in court, but you must be able to establish a case that is not simply based on a belief that may be irrational. Drejka’s case hinged almost exclusively on his fear of McGlockton, without establishing tangible reasons for that fear, and the result was a long prison sentence.
Contact A West Palm Beach Homicide Attorney
Being charged with homicide is one of the most serious accusations you can face. If you have been charged with murder, you need an attorney on your side who is ready and able to work hard for you when the stakes are so high. The West Palm Beach violent crimes lawyers at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. will ensure that your rights are protected. Call out offices today to speak to an attorney.