William Dabbs was found guilty of manslaughter, a lesser charge than the one he faced. Prosecutors alleged that Dabbs intentionally killed his friend and business partner, Larry Modena. The jury found that Dabbs was culpable for the death, but didn’t intend to harm his friend. They convicted him of a lesser charge of manslaughter, attempting to elude police, and the improper display of a firearm.
Investigators said that Dabbs shot Modena five times and then attempted to flee the scene. He was also charged with pointing a gun at an officer. Dabbs was shot while attempting to elude capture.
Family members of Modena expressed disappointment with the verdict.
Dabbs Given an Appeal
The shooting occurred in October of 2011. Dabbs was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 2015. But in 2017, the 4th District Court of Appeal granted Dabbs a new trial based on evidentiary problems with the prosecution’s case.
The prosecution maintained throughout both trials that Dabbs was upset with Modena because Modena had helped his wife get a restraining order against Dabbs that forced him to move out of his own home. Modena’s family also believes that Dabbs was guilty.
Dabbs took the stand in his own defense. When asked by prosecutors how it felt knowing that Modena helped his wife get him kicked out of his home, he responded that he knew that he would eventually be allowed back.
Dabbs’ attorneys argued that the shooting was in self-defense and that Modena had pulled a gun on him after Modena demanded that Dabbs give him a pill of Oxycodone. Dabbs claimed that he refused and it was then that Modena attacked him, hitting him on the side of the head.
Prosecutors maintained that Dabbs was not telling the truth when he testified and that Modena never attacked him. But the gun belonged to Modena. Police were not able to overcome this fact which is why Dabbs was only charged with manslaughter and not first-degree murder despite having lied to police about several of the facts surrounding the case.
Prosecutors maintain that Dabbs was in a nothing-to-lose situation and didn’t care what happened to him. That’s why he raised a gun on a police officer and killed his longtime friend.
Understanding Manslaughter Charges
Manslaughter is a type of homicide, but not murder. In order to be charged with murder, the prosecution must prove that you have murderous intent. Manslaughter charges do not require murderous intent, even when the charge is voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors need only prove that you committed the homicide through either criminal negligence or in a fit of rage. Since Dabbs’ actions were a reaction to Modena’s actions, the jury saw fit to convict him of manslaughter and not murder.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Even if the prosecution doesn’t offer a plea, you may only be guilty of lesser charges than the ones the prosecution wants to convict you of. A skilled West Palm Beach criminal attorney can help here. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. if you’ve been charged with a serious crime and let us help you fight the charges.