Court affirms Jax ‘Stand Your Ground’ conviction


In a Stand Your Ground-related case, an appeals court has affirmed a Jacksonville man’s conviction and life sentence — after previously reversing it.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday unanimously upheld the punishment for John Swearingden, 48.

Swearingden was convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing of another man during a fight in 2012, reports say.

He admitted stabbing the man but said it was in self-defense under the state’s Stand Your Ground law. But there were no witnesses and he had no defensive wounds, according to reports.

Generally, the law allows people who are attacked to counter deadly force with deadly force in self-defense without any requirement that they flee.

In 2014, the same appeals court reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial after agreeing with Swearingden that the trial judge’s jury instructions were faulty.

The Florida Supreme Court then overturned that decision and tossed the case back for reconsideration, the opinion said.

Based on the Supreme Court’s direction, “we reject (the) argument that the jury instructions in this case on the ‘duty to retreat’ were fundamentally erroneous,” the 1st DCA opinion says.

“Moreover, although we did not address the other issues raised by Appellant in our original opinion, we do so now and find no merit in those issues,” it says. “Accordingly, we affirm Appellant’s judgment and sentence.”

The opinion was by Judges T. Kent Wetherell II, Stephanie W. Ray and Thomas D. Winokur.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


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