Ashlyn Salomon was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of his neighbor, Jonathan Maciel. The appellate court, however, found two major errors in the case that tainted the verdict. They have required that the case be retried. The details of the shooting are somewhat strange. Salomon was on break from his work shift at a nearby Walmart when his girlfriend called him because her mother and Maciel were in an argument “over another woman”. When Salomon came on the scene the altercation had been broken up and Maciel had returned to his apartment. However, Maciel exited the apartment and began walking toward Saloman. Salomon claims that Maciel was holding one hand behind his back as he approached him. Salomon, who has a legal permit for concealed carry, drew his weapon because he was afraid that Maciel was holding a weapon. He also said that he knew that Maciel owned guns.
However, here is where it gets a little tricky. Salomon went to his car to retrieve his gun and by this point, Marciel had turned to run away. Salomon shot him 7 times in the back and ultimately fired his weapon 17 times.
The Stand Your Ground Question
At the stand your ground hearing, the state introduced evidence concerning the psychology of threat situations and the use of lethal force. The court ruled that this testimony illegally bolstered the state’s case against Saloman. A point of contention was the introduction of evidence against Salomon related to expert witness testimony. Experts reviewed witness statements, interviewed witnesses and “opined” about whether or not the shooting was justifiable. There was a second question as to the omission of words in the trial transcript related to jury instructions. The appellate court could not determine that the words were left out during the trial, but noted it as a potential problem with the state’s case.
The transcript read that the jury instruction noted in the transcript was: “the danger needs to be actual” rather than the correct jury instruction that “the danger needs not to be actual”. In this case, it would appear the trial judge gave the jury the exact opposite of the correct instruction.
In a stand your ground case, the prosecution is forced to prove that a defendant was not in fear for his life (or the lives of others) at the time of the shooting. In this case, the judge flipped the burden of proof to the defense and essentially made it their issue to prove.
While the facts of the case seem to indicate that Salomon shot Maciel in the back, it’s unclear as to whether or not Maciel had made a credible threat or was attempting to go back into his home to retrieve a weapon. Since Salomon believed Maciel had a weapon, it’s conceivable that he was in fear for his life. This case should result in a dismissal on the basis of stand your ground.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Scott Skier represents the rights of those charged with serious crimes. Talk to us today and involve us early and we can help you get the criminal charges dropped, dismissed, or a not-guilty verdict at trial.