Duval Street shooter heads to trial Monday

A Monroe County judge refused once again to dismiss charges against a Duval Street shooter who wounded three men a year ago.

Prosecutors call it a drunken rampage in which a trigger-happy Derek David fires almost blindly into a crowd on Key West’s most famous street, while defense attorneys say David was defending his petite wife from strangers they had clashed with after a night of drinking.

David is set to stand trial on attempted-murder charges starting Monday at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, but his defense could seek a delay. He remains free on bond.

David, who says he has amnesia and a head injury from the events of March 21, 2016, asked Judge Wayne Miller to dismiss the charges based on Florida’s newly retooled Stand Your Ground law, which makes it easier for defendants to claim immunity from criminal prosecution by shifting the entire burden over whether deadly force was necessary to the prosecution.

And the level of proof required for such an argument is beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest bar there is in a criminal courtroom.

Miller earlier this year denied David’s Stand Your Ground claim, after a hearing in which much of the state’s case was laid out in open court.

With the new law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 9, prosecutors will essentially have to put on two trials to convict someone of violence, starting first with a Stand Your Ground hearing. If a judge rules in the defendant’s favor, the case is over. If not, the case proceeds to trial before a jury or judge.

“It’s going to be costly and time-consuming,” Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward said Tuesday. “The significant factor here is the defendant before, in order to present his or her side, would normally take the stand and explain what happened. Now the state will put on their case and it’s up to the defendant whether or not he wants to say anything or whether the defense wants to put on a defense.”

Ward said state lawmakers probably changed the law in an effort to allow people to defend themselves from an attack.

“But what we’ve seen with these Stand Your Ground cases include a couple gang wars in other jurisdictions,” Ward said, adding that when two or three people are dead on the ground the suspects claim it was self-defense.

The revised Stand Your Ground will likely inspire defense attorneys to try to use it in a wide range of cases from domestic battery to bar fights, Ward said.

“Surely, it’s going to have a significant impact on the court system here in Monroe County as well as all over the state of Florida,” Ward said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen