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Attorney Ben Russell Featured in Local WINK News Story on Stand Your Ground Law


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In 2005, the stand your ground law took away the need to retreat, before using force, even if you're in public. But new data shows deaths are up over 200 percent since the law took effect nearly seven years ago.

Before 2005, state crime stats show the state of Florida averaged 12 justifiable homicides a year. Since the stand your ground law went into effect, that number has jumped to 36. Now Governor Rick Scott wants a second look, something Fort Myers attorney Benjamin Russell says isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"A lot of times when you pass a law, it may take a couple of years to see how it really is in play before you can say hey this was a good idea, this was a bad idea," said Russell.

In southwest Florida, the stand your ground law has been used several times. In January 2011, Jorge Saavedra stabbed Dylan Nuno to death. Charges were dropped against the 15 year old under the stand your ground defense.

Earlier this week, only WINK News cameras were in court as a judge sentenced Justin Campos, who killed to people at the Fort Myers strip club, Lookers. Hoping to get the case dismissed, Campos claimed his life was in danger during the scuffle. A judge denied the stand your ground motion. But why does the motion work in some cases and not in others?

"If you're standing out on the sidewalk and somebody attacks you, you can pull out a gun and use deadly force if you think its reasonably necessary," said Russell.

"It would be very difficult to find a middle ground where you have to retreat a little bit," said Daniel Lurvey, attorney of Lyons and Lurvey in Kendall, Florida.

Governor Scott says it's worth reviewing to make sure stand your ground isn't being abused.

"Every time we see something like that we have to review and make sure were not giving people the opportunity to use a law unfairly," said Scott.

"You have to look at the facts of every case and how the law applies to the facts," said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

No word yet if the Florida legislature will debate over the stand your ground law. But this is not just an issue in Florida, according to the NRA, there are more than two dozen states that have similar laws on the books.

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