By Rania Khalek (Salon) As the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the failure of authorities to arrest his killer, George Zimmerman, continues to grab headlines, many conservatives and gun rights advocates insist that race has nothing to do with it. Some have also rallied to the defense of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, the self-defense legislation under which Zimmerman was able to avoid arrest. Yet not all stand your ground claims are so successful. Not too far from Sanford, Fla., a black man named John McNeil is serving a life sentence for shooting Brian Epp, a white man who trespassed and attacked him at his home in Georgia, another stand your ground state.
The McNeils weren’t the only ones who felt threatened by Epp. David Samson and Libby Jones, a white couple who hired Epp to build their home in 2004, testified that they carried a gun as a “precaution” around Epp because of his threatening behavior. According to Jones, Epp nearly hit her when she expressed dissatisfaction with his work at a weekly meeting. The couple even had a lawyer write a letter warning Epp to stay away from their property. Samson testified that after they fired him, Epp would park his car across the street and watch their house, saying “it got to the point where my wife and I were in total fear of this man.”
After a neighbor across the street who witnessed the encounter corroborated McNeil’s account, police determined that it was a case of self-defense and did not charge him in the death. Nevertheless, almost a year later Cobb County District Attorney Patrick Head decided to prosecute McNeil for murder. In 2006, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
via When “stand your ground” fails – Salon.com.