Zimmerman attorney: ‘Stand your ground’ law doesn’t apply to South Fort Myers incident

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. Mark O’Mara, the defense attorney who represented George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder case, believes prosecutors were wrong to not charge a South Fort Myers man in a ‘stand your ground’ case.

“The question that still hangs out there that nobody has attempted to answer is why,” he said. “Why take the life of another? Why leave your home, when you don’t have to?”

Ryan Modell, 32, was shot and killed inside a gated South Fort Myers condominium complex in March 2016 after he mistakenly tried to enter the wrong unit.

James Steven Taylor, 45, shot Modell in the driveway of a neighboring unit after exiting his home to look for Modell.

Dan Feinberg, the assistant state attorney who reviewed the case, said the incident was a case of self-defense because a witness saw Modell charging and yelling expletives at Taylor outside the home.

But O’Mara, who is representing Modell’s family, said by Taylor exiting his home after the initial altercation at his front door, he inserted himself into a situation, which doesn’t justify a stand your ground defense.

“It’s unlike (the Zimmerman case) where Trayvon came back in to re-engage and sucker punched George in the nose,” O’Mara said.

Zimmerman vs. Taylor

Zimmerman had visible injuries on the back of his head, and forensic evidence corroborated his story that Martin was on top of him during an altercation when the deadly shot was fired, O’Mara said.

But it was a mistake for Taylor to arm himself when he and his wife knew Modell was a drunk guy at the wrong door, O’Mara said.

O’Mara said he also took issue with Taylor arming himself when he and his wife knew Modell was a drunk guy at the wrong door.

A Lee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant said Taylor indicated he retrieved his gun after he closed his door and Modell was outside.

“That type of vigilantism is what gets people killed, and now we’ve lost Ryan because of that type of action by Mr. Taylor,” O’Mara said.

Feinberg, the assistant state attorney, believes Taylor had no obligation to stay in his home.

“He has the lawful right to protect himself, protect his wife and protect his home, and that’s what he did,” he said.

O’Mara, on behalf of the Modell family, plans to submit a petition to Gov. Rick Scott to have the case reviewed by a different jurisdiction.

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