Donald Montanez shot and killed a man he says was threatening him while he tried to tow his car in 2006.
Donald Montanez and his attorney talked exclusively with 10 News about what happened one morning in 2006.
"A life was lost. And so was mine that morning because it's never been the same," Montanez told Anchor Reginald Roundtree.
According to Montanez, he had towed a man's car shortly before that man, Glen Rich, managed to get in the car and sped toward him. Montanez says he had just seconds to protect himself against deadly force, so he fired his gun.
"I wanted to protect my employees and myself," said Montanez. "But I didn't want to hurt anybody."
Rich later died. Montanez will soon stand trial for murder, but will try to prove the shooting was justified under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.
"You're walking on the street, you're in a bar, anywhere that you have a legal right to be, if someone threatens you with, for instance, deadly force, then you can use deadly force in response," explains Robert Batey, Professor of Criminal Law at Stetson Law in Gulfport.
Florida was the first state to pass such a law in 2005. Since then, more than a dozen other states have followed.
"The prior law said that unless you're in your home or your business, you had to retreat," says Batey. "If you didn't retreat and you used deadly force, then you couldn't argue self-defense."
The law has been used in several local cases, including one recently out of Valrico. An attorney for school bus driver Trevor Dooley says last year, Dooley shot and killed a father in self-defense as they argued over skateboarders in the neighborhood. According to the attorney, Dooley feared for his life, and the other man was younger and at least 70 pounds heavier than Dooley.
And late last year, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office closed an investigation into the ice pick stabbing death of 20-year-old Wathson Adelson. They concluded that the Stand Your Ground law did apply and 62-year-old Al Polanco acted in self-defense when he stabbed 20-year-old Wathson Adelson after an argument over road rage.
But some disagree with the reach of Stand Your Ground, and the idea that a person doesn't have the legal obligation to retreat now before fighting back with deadly force.
"Even if I was attacked by a dog, it would be seen as overaggressive to wrestle the dog down and drive an ice pick through its head," Adelson's friend, Spencer Scott, said last year after hearing Polanco wouldn't be charged.
And even legal experts warn the law could eventually have some sort of impact on public behavior.
"I think we should be hesitant to encourage the public to fire away, if you will," Batey says.