A man shot to death in December 2016 was living in the East Bradenton home of the man charged with killing him. But his killer is claiming he acted in self-defense.
Tarance "Dread" Gordon, 38, is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in the death of Roger Clinton, 40.
Gordon was seeking to have the charges against him dismissed based on Florida's "Stand your Ground law." During a court hearing last month, his defense argued that he was justified in shooting Clinton because of threats made to him and his family.
Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen disagreed, finding that Gordon's actions were reckless, and denied him immunity.
Sniffen's ruling, made in a written order filed May 8, was based upon a failure by the defense to prove that Gordon was entitled to immunity since he was committing a crime by possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He also failed to prove that he or his household had faced an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, the judge ruled.
"(The) defendant shot the victim in the back, however, (the) defendant offers no explanation as to how the victim posed an imminent threat while he was across the street, facing the opposite direction," Sniffen wrote in the order.
The state, which carries the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground hearings under a change in state law enacted in 2017, did meet its burden in proving that Gordon had not acted in self-defense.
On the night of Dec. 17, 2016, Gordon and Clinton were at a social gathering when they began to argue. Clinton left the gathering in his car, and Gordon walked home. Clinton didn't go back to their home but instead went to visit a friend, who lived across the street from Gordon's home.
Assistant Public Defender Anne Hunter argued that Gordon received threatening texts from Clinton. Assistant State Attorney Garrett Franzen argued that there was no testimony that he ever read them.
When Clinton did go back to Gordon's home to pick-up his daughter, Gordon claims that Clinton began waving a gun in front of Gordon's girlfriend and children. Gordon wasn't home yet at the time, but claims that his girlfriend called and told him.
But Gordon didn't go home, call 911 and wait inside until law enforcement arrived, Sniffen asserted in his order. Instead, he armed himself with a shotgun and went outside, putting himself in a situation where it was probable that he would commit a crime. Clinton yelled at him when he stepped outside.
Gordon told detectives that although he had not seen the gun before he started shooting, he believed that Clinton had a gun because of what his girlfriend told him.
"I shot one time, I heard pop, pop, pop, and I shot two more times," Gordon told detectives during a recorded interview.
During last month's hearing, Hunter argued the shotgun was outside leaning against the house when he grabbed it to defend himself. But Sniffen ruled that Gordon admitted to detectives that he had been the one to bring the shotgun outside, during the interview.
Gordon was in "possession of a firearm before the need arose to defend himself, his family or his home," Sniffen concluded.