A jury spared Lawrence Storer up to 15 years in prison today after they found him not guilty of manslaughter. Storer is the Tampa restaurant owner who in 2003 chased the man who robbed him of 15 dollars and 23 cents and then struck the robber with his car. The robber, 24-year-old Shantavius Wilson, died on the scene. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales speaks with the prosecuting assistant state attorney and a legal expert about the “excusable homicide� defence used by Storer.

A glare from a streetlight bordering the downtown sidewalk where Shantavius Wilson lied dead did not obscure the image of the man crouching over him and angrily waving his pointed finger.

Moments earlier Lawrence Storer, the man waving the finger, had hit Wilson with his car after chasing him down the city streets. Wilson had just robbed Storer of 15 dollars and 23 cents at Storer’s Thai restaurant. During the robbery, Wilson waved a what would later be found to be a pellet gun in Storer’s face.

In court Storer’s lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, argued that Wilson’s death should be ruled an “excusable homicide.� The jury agreed.

Jalal Harb, the assistant state attorney who prosecuted Storer, said that while this defense was anticipated by his team, he is disappointed with the outcome. The excusable homicide defense, however, is open to anyone charged with killing another.

ACT: in this case the jury was instructed on the heat of the passion…. Sufficient provocation… created a degree of anger in the mind of the defendant, rendered his acts as excusable

And while Harb does not believe that this verdict will pave the way for a surge of vigilante action, he does believe the fact that the state attorney chose to prosecute Storer sends a message to others who take the law into their own hands.

ACT: interview excerpt… o.q. ‘no one in his right mind would want mr Wilson to die�

If the message board on the Tampa Tribune’s website is anything to go by, more than a few people thought Shantavious Wilson deserved death.

Someone who identified himself as Lane McLaughlin wrote: “Anyone who sticks a gun in someone’s face to rob them should get what they deserve. One less hoodlum off the street.�

Duane Coad of St. Petersburg wrote: “To all who would stick a gun in someone’s face, you can (and should) be killed.�

While certain members of the public believe Storer’s actions are justified, Robert Batey, a professor of criminal law at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, said that the difference between excusable homicide and justifiable homicide should be made clear.


Batey said that excusable homicide has existed for many decades in Florida law but that using it for this purpose is rare. Batey believes that because of the infrequency of using this type of defense, there will not be a rise of similar cases.

ACT: I don’t think anybody I n fla should read this as it’s open season

Apparently Batey has not read the message board on the Tampa Tribune website.

Roxanne Escobales. WMNF News.

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