A Palm Beach County man accused of killing a neighbor in what prosecutors describe as a hate crime is asking a judge to dismiss the case by using Florida’s revised Stand Your Ground law.
David Harris was arrested along with his brother, Jesse, and another man, Austin Taggart, for the April 2015 death of Onesimo Lopez-Ramos outside a home in Jupiter. According to NBC affiliate WPTV, David Harris hit the victim with a rock and beat him with an ax handle.
Jupiter Police says he made derogatory remarks after the attack, saying he was targeting Guatemalan citizens in the area.
In the motion asking for a dismissal in the case, David Harris’ attorney said he was using self-defense and was defending his brother. Police say that Lopez-Ramos’ brother, Elmer, saw the men approaching their home and went to a shed to get an ax handle in case he had to defend himself.
One of the defendants allegedly attacked him, taking the handle and hitting Elmer Lopez-Ramos before he fled.
Under the revised law, the burden of proof shifts from the defense proving self-defense under the previous language to the prosecution having to prove the defendant was not in danger.
A November trial date for the three men, who will be tried separately, was canceled and the judge is expected to rule on Harris’ motion in December. Both Jesse Harris and Austin Taggart are expected not to file a Stand Your Ground motion in the case.