Judge rules Florida man did not act in self defense in shootings
Gabriel Mobley is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the February 2008 killings of Jason Jesus Gonzalez and Rolando Carrazana, both 24.
Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull's decision means Mobley will now face a jury trial. While Rebull did not grant Mobley "immunity," he can still argue self-defense at a jury trial.
"It was a tough decision, but we think the judge properly reviewed the evidence," prosecutor Kathleen Hoague said. "This case really needs to be considered by a jury."
On the night of the shooting, an argument between two groups of men escalated when Gonzalez punched one of Mobley's pals in the restaurant parking lot.
Mobley, who had a concealed weapons permit and cooperated with police, pulled a pistol and shot the men dead. At a Stand Your Ground hearing in January, Mobley claimed he saw Carranza rushing up and thought he had a weapon.
"I was scared, and then I seen this other guy coming up from the back and then he reached up under his shirt so I was scared," Mobley testified. "I thought, you know, they were going to shoot or kill us."
Prosecutors charged Mobley five months later after analyzing surveillance video of the shooting.
The shooting was seen as a key test of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, which eliminated a citizen's "duty to retreat" before using lethal force in the face of a threat.
The law also gave judges greater leeway to throw out criminal charges if they deemed somebody acted in self-defense. In Miami-Dade, so far, judges have thrown out three murder cases based on the law.
The law came under national scrutiny last year when a man claimed self-defense when he killed an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin, during a physical fight in Sanford. George Zimmerman was eventually charged with second-degree murder and is awaiting trial.