A Tampa jury has found Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old black man, guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his white neighbor, 41-year-old David James, in front of James’ then-8-year-old daughter Danielle.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the jury rejected Dooley’s claim of self-defense under the state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
One of the jury members said the law did not apply to this case, while jury foreman Walter Joss said, “The whole silly thing was over a skateboard … and it just escalated.”
However, the Jamaican-born Dooley believes that racism played a big part in his conviction.
He told reporters, “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today? … We wouldn’t.”
James’ daughter, who has been in counseling since the tragedy, did not remember much of the incident. She testified that she only remembered Dooley trying to go home.
The incident occurred in September 2010, when James and Dooley got into an argument over a skateboarder who had been given permission by James to skateboard on the other side of the basketball court where James and his daughter had been playing.
Neighbors who witnessed the altercation and later testified said they saw Dooley flip up his T-shirt, revealing a gun in his waistband, while cursing at James.
Dooley, who is 5-feet-7 and weighs 160 pounds, said in his testimony that he shot the 6-foot-1, 240 pound James when he felt his life was in danger because James had his hands around Dooley’s neck and was trying to reach for his gun.
The Times also reported that along with manslaughter, Dooley was also convicted of improper exhibition of a weapon and open carrying of a firearm, both misdemeanors.
Dooley will remain free on bail until his sentencing by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody on Jan. 10.