A Miami appeals court has thrown out a double-murder conviction against Gabriel Mobley who fatally shot two men and then invoked the Stand Your Ground law, the Miami Herald reports.
During a February 2008 visit to a North Miami-Dade Chili’s, Mobley reportedly stepped outside with friend Jose Correa for a cigarette. When they reportedly returned to their table, they found Jason Jesus Gonzalez and Rolando Carrazana talking with their female friends, causing a short argument that Mobley tried to diffuse.
Though Gonzalez and Carrazana eventually left, they soon began reportedly pounding on the restaurant’s windows and pointing at Mobley and Correa. After Mobley and Correa went outside to continue smoking, Mobley reportedly fetched his glock pistol from his car for safety purposes.
Gonzalez then suddenly appeared and punched Correa in the face, fracturing his eye socket. He then allegedly danced backward, taunting the men.
Immediately afterward, Carrazana rushed the men. Mobley then produced the glock and repeatedly fired, fatally wounding Carrazana and Gonzalez. Mobley says he fired because he thought Carrazana was armed.
“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,” he said during a January 2012 immunity hearing. “I thought, you know, they were going to shoot or kill us.”
Prosecutors charged Mobley months after the incident upon reviewing surveillance footage. Last year, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Thomas Rebull refused to wave Mobley’s murder charges, arguing that his testimony wasn’t credible and that his use of force was “neither reasonable nor necessary.”
However, the appeals court countered that while it “may have been prudent” for Mobley and Correa to “skitter to their cars and hightail it out of there when they had the chance,” the men did nothing wrong being outside the Chili’s and “did nothing to precipitate this violent attack.”
The appeals court agreed to void Mobley’s charges because “the shooting at issue did not occur in a vacuum,” per Judge Linda Ann Wells, in writing about the court’s decision. “Mobley did not shoot two innocent bystanders who just happened upon him on a sidewalk.”
The ruling marks the first time a court has granted immunity to a defendant under the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
One of Mobley’s defense attorneys praised the decision.
“Anyone who says that Mr. Mobley had other options or time to make a long, thought-out decision before using force has never been in that unthinkable situation — where the possibility of never again seeing your family hinges on your split-second reaction to two violent attackers,” said Eduardo Pereira.
Miami-Dade prosecutors claim they will appeal the ruling. Should it stay, no jury will be able to consider if Mobley acted in self-defense or not.
“This is what is so frustrating about the way the law is structured,” commented Miami-Dade Chief Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Hoague. “It is devastating for the victims’ families. They never get to have their day in court before a jury.”