Using the seemingly popular “Stand Your Ground” defense, David Mota was found not guilty in the shooting death of 22-year-old Joshua Switalski in the road-rage incident in Oro Valley last year.
While the anger might be there, and wanting someone to blame is important and Mota is the one who shot the gun, it’s the laws that we as people need to become worried about.
Starting with Florida in 2005, Stand Your Ground laws were passed by 12 states altogether, including Arizona. The point of said law is to affirm one’s right to defend themselves, even outside of their homes and with deadly force if necessary. The problem with laws, such as Stand Your Ground, is that a person has no duty to retreat from a situation before resorting to deadly force.
In the Oro Valley case last year, Switalski and Mota got into an altercation along Oracle Road while driving cars. Like many, I have a hard time understanding how Mota felt using a gun was the only alternative over just driving away. I understand that I wasn’t there, I don’t know how either person felt in the altercation, but I have a hard time believing the “kill or be killed” defense.
However, it’s a defense that is going to be used a lot, especially after the Florida case where George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of a teenage boy.
In this state, according to Arizona Revised Statute 13-411, deadly force is allowed if a person believes it is necessary to prevent the other’s commission of an occupied structure, burglary, kidnapping, manslaughter, first or second-degree murder, sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation, armed robbery or aggravated assault.
In the case of the Arizona law, there is no duty to retreat before threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force. I have a problem with this portion of the law. Shouldn’t we promote walking away where possible rather than allowing someone to resort to murder.
Since this defense is proving to be effective, defense attorneys are going to continue to use it. They will continue to use it until either lawmakers step in and make necessary amendments to the laws, or prosecutors get inventive on how to charge people involved in such incidents.
As one who listened to the entire Zimmerman trial, I actually believe he should have been acquitted for the charges prosecutors actually brought against him. I still don’t understand why prosecutors in the case didn’t go for lesser charges that would have assured he would be punished for taking a young man’s life.
However, many know politics and racial issues got in the way of properly taking care of the situation.
In the Oro Valley case, Mota was charged with first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and aggravated assault.
While the first-degree murder charge could be tough to prove, I think the prosecutors were right to charge Mota with a drive-by shooting and aggravated assault. I still don’t understand what the jury was thinking in finding him not guilty on all counts.
Are incidents that result in deaths such as this going to have to be reviewed more by prosecutors? Despite the law, will prosecutors have more luck by bringing charges such as vehicular homicide? What about manslaughter? Or, will this law be a blanket defense that won’t allow justice for the victim’s who are lost in such tragedies.
One now has to wonder how many more deaths will take place, how many more defendants will be acquitted before those who have a responsibility to do so take notice.