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Arizona’s Trayvon Martin? Another ‘Stand Your Ground’ Killing

Arizona’s Trayvon Martin? Another ‘Stand Your Ground’ Killing

 

Written by Valeria Fernández

LAVEEN, Ariz. — A picture of Daniel Adkins, Jr. stares back at his father from the living room of the family’s small home. The letters RIP and “You will always be in our heart” are written on the photograph in white letters.

“It’s as if he’s asking me, ‘What are you going to do about it?’” said the senior Daniel Adkins.

It’s a question the father has been asking himself for more than two months, ever since his son was shot and killed shortly after leaving the house to take his dog, Lady, for a walk. Neither police nor the family have any doubt about who pulled the trigger – Cornell Jude, 22, has admitted to shooting Adkins, Jr. outside of a Taco Bell on April 3. Yet, Jude remains free – he told police he acted in self-defense — while the Adkins family has been left stunned and holding out hope that justice will be served.

New America Media made several requests for an interview with Jude, to which he did not reply.

The case calls to mind another fatal shooting of an unarmed victim — Trayvon Martin was killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman – under a similar “Stand Your Ground” law. Yet the story has hardly registered in national media, a far cry from the news frenzy and national protests that followed the Martin killing.

Like Jude, police did not immediately arrest Zimmerman for killing Martin, under the pretense that he had acted in self-defense – a legal justification valid in the state of Florida that is commonly referred to as a “Stand Your Ground” law. Only after the killing prompted protests across the country by people angry at what they perceived as a racist act and equally racist legal outcome – Martin was a young black man – was Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder.

Like Florida, Arizona has a law on the books stating that an individual does not have to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.

The fatal encounter between Jude and Adkins, a 29-year-old man described by his mother as having the mind of a 13-year-old, lasted only a few seconds.

According to the police report, Jude was in his car with his girlfriend placing an order at Taco Bell, and was told to drive to the front window to pick up the order. As he pulled away from the drive-through, he nearly ran over Adkins – Jude said he had to step on the brakes – as he was walking his dog.

Adkins cursed loudly at Jude and approached the passenger window of his car. Jude and his girlfriend said they then saw Adkins swinging something that resembled a bat. At that point, said Jude, he shot Adkins with a pistol that he had on his lap, then called 911.

Jude told the police he was not aware that the shot to Adkins was fatal. Responding to the 911 call, police discovered Adkins lying on the asphalt, his right hand still clutching his dog’s leash.

Jude told police that he fired at Adkins because he “feared for his life, as well as for the lives of his girlfriend and their unborn baby.” Jude also told police that, “he was unable to drive away because the dog was in the way, and that he had not thought of any other options.”

But Jude also told police he didn’t believe that Adkins would have killed both of them if he had not been shot. Neither did police find evidence of a bat or any other object on the scene. When they questioned Jude and his girlfriend about it, they said Adkins might have been waving his arms, or that it they could have mistaken the dog leash for a bat.

Detectives assigned to the case recommended a charge of second-degree murder to the Maricopa County Attorney Office (MCAO) just a few days after the shooting. But no formal charges have been filed, and the Adkins family has been left to wonder why it’s taken so long for officials to take action.

“The case is under review. We’re not commenting publicly on it,” said Jerry Cobb, a spokesperson for MCAO, who confirmed that a special committee created by county attorney Bill Montgomery was examining the case to determine whether or not self-defense was involved.

Cobb also said the county has requested additional evidence from the Phoenix Police Department, and “that’s part of the reason this case will take longer to review.” Police Sergeant Tommy Thompson confirmed the department is looking for the information requested by MCAO.

“We totally understand that for a victim of a crime or family member, waiting even an hour can seem too long,” he said. “We want to make sure we pursue these cases as best as possible.”

John Hurtado, a certified law student – he can practice law with the supervision of another attorney – who works at the law offices of Brian P. Moquin in California, has taken an interest in the Adkins case. After reviewing the available evidence and observing the actions taken by Maricopa County authorities, Hurtado felt compelled to take action.

He wrote a letter to county officials, asking that Jude be charged with second-degree murder for unlawful use of deadly force. Hurtado wrote in his letter that Jude provoked the incident by almost running over Adkins. Hurtado also argued that Jude was in violation of the law because Adkins could not see he was carrying a gun, and could therefore not reach the reasonable conclusion that he should leave the scene.

“They’re giving [Jude] immunity right now,” said Hurtado.

According to Arizona law, “a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.”

But, said Hurtado, there is a limit to this type of legal protection. “If it’s determined that he provoked [Adkins], he might not have the right to (claim) self-defense,” he said.

Antonio Bustamante, a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, said cases like this are complex and outcomes can hinge on how the jury feels about guns and the use of deadly force. Often, said Bustamante, the same facts can yield completely different verdicts.

The Adkins family is hoping for a jury trial, but that will depend on whether or not charges are ever filed.

In the meantime, Adkins’ mother Antonia, a 63-year-old Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years, goes back and forth between tears and indignation. In the space between her kitchen and dining room lies a model train that Daniel had been building. At a young age, she said, her son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and a number of other mental health problems.

Her dog, a Labrador named Lady, still roams the house. She said neighbors have been coming over ever since they found out about the shooting and “are surprised, because Daniel never had a problem with anyone.”

“He didn’t have a right to take my son’s life. Why didn’t he drive away?” she said. “I’m a Christian, I don’t want him to die, but I want justice.”

Daniel’s father doesn’t think race played a role in the shooting. Jude is African-American and Adkins is Hispanic. Still, he doesn’t understand why his son’s case didn’t raise the uproar that Martin’s did in Florida.

Hurtado said it’s a combination of politics and timing. He believes prosecutors are afraid of instigating a backlash from the African-American community that was already up in arms about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Cobb denied any political motivations being behind the handling of the case.

“They don’t want what happened in Sanford to happen in Phoenix,” said Hurtado.

This post was originally published by New America Media.

 

Related Stories:

Civil Rights Commission to Investigate ‘Stand Your Ground’ For Racial Bias

Guns Now Kill More People Than Cars in Ten States

Trayvon Martin-Inspired Shooting Practice

 

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182 comments

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1:05AM PDT on Jul 15, 2013

PLEASE POST AN UPDate - want to know. will try find on internet. thank you

5:50AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

Let's see if I got this correct. He was going to Taco Bell and had placed his order. Something happens and he, by chance, had a loaded gun in his lap. And he sees things that doesn't exists, like a baton (which turns out to be a dog leash) and waving arms and fires his loaded, easy available gun. Well, this must be totally legit? Wrong! Prosecute for murder and I would say, first-degree, since he had a concealed weapon in a car with his pregnant girlfriend. I have a feeling Cornell Jude was planning to rob the place, not buy tacos. Why hasn't the police investigated this fishy story?

10:47PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

I am totally against these stand your ground laws, because the people that use them are fearful, insecure, or "wanna-be"s. It's a recipe for disaster.

7:20AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

@David H.

"They are laws which give people the right not to retreat in the face of a threat, but to stay where they are and shoot someone if they feel they are threatened too much. You will look in vain through all 27 words of the 2nd Amendment and find no word of it that can"

Presuming you were about to say there's no justification for "stand your ground" in the Second Amendment, you're absolutely correct.

The right to self defense has always been based on the responsibility to avoid a fight if at all possible. At least, that dates since the ban on dueling finally took effect.

"Stand your Ground" is very, very dubious, and it's been deliberately used to condone murder.

While, oddly enough, a woman that was trying to defend herself against her husband fired into the ceiling and STILL faced charges.

There's something fishy there, and the fish seems to have died about a week ago.

4:04PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

smdh.............keep us posted,.,,start a petition while ur waiting....this has to stop....

8:07PM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

@David H.

"A law requiring something, or directly prohibiting something, is somewhat different to a law to have no law prohibiting something"

Ahem. What was it you wrote about "linguistically inaccurate" ? Oh, no, you said "linquistically" inaccurate". Sorry.

I have to remember to make allowances. The UK doesn't HAVE a Constitution.

You have Common Law, a complex set of precedents that must truly take a scholar to master.

You do have a Bill of Rights. Although it's mostly prohibitions against Royal interference, as far as I can tell.

Which is similar to our Constitution, in a way.

The Bill of Rights in America's Constitution is also mostly "negative rights".

The Government 'may NOT do this, may NOT do that'. Not 'the People may this, and the People may that'.

Just declaring what the People 'may do' wouldn't be strong enough.

It wouldn't be an outright prohibition on the Government interfering in that Right.

After all, future Conservatives could whittle away at that Right, by saying 'the People MAY, but this subclass May Not'.

Just as your Bill of Rights states "no royal interference in the freedom of the people to have arms for their own defence as suitable to their class and as allowed by law", our Bill of Rights forbids the Government from banning the People from owning weapons within the law.

Given the timing, our Second Amendment could easily have been influenced by the British Bill of Rights.

8:06PM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

"While your continual dragging up that I, a British citizen, would not have been able to be part of a US militia fighting a war in America 250 years ago (and that this somehow bolsters what you say about why the 2nd Amendment was and is needed) borders on delusional insanity."

Well, it's possible you simply refuse to understand logic that conflicts with your beliefs.

We actually get a lot of that with Fox News viewers here in America.

So it's not unfamiliar.

The point is childishly simple. The Second Amendment was intended to preserve weapons training in the population, by preserving the right to own weapons.

And coincidentally, preventing a Police State from ever achieving complete control, but that's a dark, dark road and I prefer to avoid it.

The Founders (you would call them Traitors to the Crown) knew that the greatest danger to their fledgling Democracy was a Military Coup.

They were, after all, well acquainted with Roman History.

To avoid this, they didn't want a standing army at all. And that required citizen soldiers for National Defense.

Citizen soldiers have to own their own weapons.

If you can take the weapons away and lock them up in an Armory, the citizens will be unable to train with the weapons. That would weaken the entire point of having citizen soldiers, by placing a choke point on the use of weapons; that authority in the hands of a few strips away the rights of the many.

And if the Founders (those aforementio

9:58AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

Examples of words that have changed: Gay (Happy, now means homosexual), Handsome (once used to refer only to women and Men were "beautiful"), Counterfeit (perfect copy, now means fake), Nice (Ignoramus, now means friendly), Awful (full of awe, now means the opposite), Brave (False courage, AKA Bravado, now means true courage).


"The War of 1812 can hardly be said to have gone badly for the US, it was a bit of a mess for both sides actually, and as far as I know ended as something of a stalemate:"

The White House was set on fire. That's "going badly".

"Your exhortation to me to "go get a modern muzzleload" and load it and fire it is no less stupid than when you first suggested it. I know nothing about how to load guns, muzzleloaded or otherwise".

And therefore you wouldn't have the skill set to join a Militia.

No skill, no Militia, no National Defense.

2:15AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

David H, I knew the correct word was interperted because I know how everybody on this site likes to belittle their opponents on their grammar. No I do not want to have a never ending conversation about your opinions of someone else's countries constitutional rights. I enjoy watching you enlighten others with your wisdom.

12:33AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

@David H. "My assumption, and I don't believe it is too far a stretch to even your imagination, is that 18th Century American colonists almost certainly would have known how to do this and would have been instructing their sons as soon as they were old enough to be taken on hunting expeditions"

Wait for it... wait for it... now !

And IF they were not allowed to own weapons, HOW would they have accomplished this instruction ?

Answer: they couldn't. The knowledge and skill would be lost.

No weapons, no skill, no Militia, no National Defense, no more Nation founded by "We, the People".

Just as England had a Law requiring Yoemen to practice with the Welsh Longbow to be ready for war, Americans needed the right to have and bear arms in order to be ready for war.

Hm. It would appear my "imagination" is quite acute.

"I have said enough in my previous post regarding the meaning of 'militia' both as a dictionary defines it, and as it is defined in your own US MIlitary Code."

If you want to be strictly accurate, you'd need a definition that predates 1776; the US Military Code post-dates that.

And since we know the Founder's choices of words in the Constitution were dependent on their meaning then, and the meaning of words changes over time... it's not surprising that terms like "well-regulated", and "Militia" are now subject to debate.

Examples of words that have changed: Gay (Happy, now means homosexual), Handsome (once used to refer only to w

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