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‘Stand your Ground' defense hearing continues for Jupiter hate crime suspect

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 18:46:17-05

A hearing to determine if a man accused of killing a Guatemalan man in an apparent hate crime was actually defending himself will continue into a third day.

Jupiter Police say David Harris, along with his brother Jesse Harris and another person, Austin Taggart, killed Onesimo Marcelino Lopez-Ramos on April 18, 2015.

David Harris is now claiming self-defense, arguing the killing falls under the “stand your ground defense.” The hearing began inDecember, and continued Tuesday in Palm Beach County court.

“David Harris was defending himself and his brother,” said Franklin Prince, Harris’ attorney. “When they found the boy, he was laying on top of a three-inch metal pipe that he was swinging at my client.”

Police reported the boys saying they were going “Guat hunting” the night of the murder. Harris testified that meant they were looking for members of the Guatemalan community to rob and steal from.

In a two-hour hearing Tuesday, prosecutors played recordings from an interview Harris gave to Jupiter police detectives. Harris was heard in the recordings calling the killing an “unintentional homicide.”

“I don’t feel like I should be facing murder for this guy. I feel like it was an accident,” Harris said in the interview played in the courtroom. 

The Florida Legislature recently changed the “Stand Your Ground” law, putting the burden of proof on the prosecution. 

“We were filing it regardless but as for the change in law, the defense feels the state did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that David was not justified and he should have immunity for his conduct," Prince said.

The hearing is expected to wrap up on Feb. 13.