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FL Man Cleared in 'Stand Your Ground' Stabbing

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 29, 2012 6:10 AM

A Miami man who chased a thief and stabbed him to death cannot be prosecuted because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, a judge said in a written opinion released Wednesday.

Greyston Garcia, 25, "was well within his rights" when he chased a man accused of stealing his car radio and stabbed the man to death, the judge ruled. The Miami policeman who supervised the case was stunned.

"How can it be Stand Your Ground?" the officer said to The Miami Herald. "It's on [surveillance] video! You can see him stabbing the victim."

Greyston Garcia's Stand Your Ground stabbing is getting national attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin's shooting death. Martin's killer, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, is also claiming self-defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground law -- though Martin was unarmed, and Zimmerman was apparently chasing him at one point.

Florida's law allows the use of deadly force if a person reasonably feels it's necessary to prevent death, serious bodily injury, or the commission of a forcible felony. However, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed the law, has said it shouldn't apply when a person chases a victim.

But in Greyston Garcia's case, a judge disagreed. Garcia chased the alleged car-radio thief -- Pedro Roteta, 26 -- for more than a block, the Herald reports. Roteta, carrying a four-pound bag of car radios, swung the bag at Garcia's head; Garcia blocked the bag with one hand and stabbed Roteta in the chest.

Roteta's swinging of the bag could have caused serious bodily injury or death, and placed Garcia in fear for his life, the judge wrote.

Still, after the fatal stabbing, Garcia did not call 911. Instead, he hid the knife and sold two of Roteta's car radios, then initially denied the killing when interviewed by police. None of those facts played into the judge's decision.

It's not clear how Greyston Garcia's Stand Your Ground stabbing may affect how the law is applied in other Florida cases. A grand jury is set to convene April 10 to consider charges in George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin.

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