Ronald Thompson is a disabled 14-year Army vet. After his service, he acted as a Deputy Representative for AMVETS. Thompson accumulated more than 5,000 hours volunteering at the VA hospital in Lake City, Florida helping other retired vets with their rehabilitation. Julie Stewart at HuffPo: “Thompson was 62 years old in September 2009 when he visited a friend of his, an elderly woman in Keystone Heights, Florida, at the woman’s daughter’s home. During his visit, his friend’s 17-year-old grandson, who had been violent toward her in the past, came by with three friends and wanted to go into his mother’s home.” Then . . .
Having been instructed by her daughter not to let him into the house, Thompson’s friend refused them entry. Her grandson began yelling and cursing at his grandmother. Events escalated to the point where Mr. Thompson felt his friend was in danger. He grabbed his pistol (for which he had a conceal-carry license) and fired two warning shots into the ground to scare off the 17-year-old.
In any jurisdiction where common sense prevails, Thompson would have been hailed as a hero for aiding a friend in need. But common sense apparently has no place in Florida law.
Florida has a strict mandatory minimum sentencing law for crimes committed with a gun. Called the 10-20-Life law, people, even first offenders, who commit crimes while carrying a gun get an automatic 10 years in prison. If they discharge the gun, they get 20. And if their shot hits and harms a victim, they get a sentence of 25 years to life.
Okay, maybe a little harsh, but not so bad on its face, assuming that it is applied in the spirit in which it was intended. Even the law’s author agrees:
Former Florida state legislator, Victor Crist, who wrote the 10-20-Life law in 1999, recently said, “We were trying to get at the thug who was robbing a liquor store who had a gun in his possession or pulled out the gun and threatened someone or shot someone during the commission of the crime.”
Enter one Angela Corey (of the Zimmerman “I don’t need no stinkin’ facts” case fame):
Placing simple-minded consistency over common sense, State Prosecutor Angela Corey charged Ronald Thompson with four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, each carrying a mandatory minimum of 20 years under the 10-20-Life gun law.
Simple-minded sums it up pretty well.
…A jury convicted Thompson. The 17-year-old belligerent said he felt threatened and Thompson discharged a gun. Case closed. The jury, however, did not know that Thompson faced a minimum of 20 years, and at sentencing, the judge’s integrity asserted itself. Having sat through the trial and heard all the facts, the judge announced that to send Ronald Thompson to prison for two decades would be a “crime in itself.” The judge sentenced him to three years instead.
Hallelujah! Some common sense prevails. But Ms. Corey would have none of that.
On behalf of the state of Florida, Ms. Corey appealed and the appeals court imposed the 20-year mandatory prison sentence.
From all appearances, Ms. Corey is more concerned only with her prosecution stats and gives not a rat’s ass about justice or Florida’s citizens. Remove Angela Corey indeed.