Society

Blind Man John Wayne Rogers Gets His Guns Back After Killing Friend in Fla. 'Stand Your Ground' Case

| by Allison Geller

John Wayne Rogers, a blind man charged with murder in Florida, was acquitted under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, claiming he shot a drinking buddy in self-defense.

Rogers, 40, shot and killed James T. DeWitt, 34, in March 2012 the morning after a drinking binge. DeWitt had stayed the night at Roger’s home in Seminole County, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

At 10 a.m., DeWitt and his girlfriend, Christina Ann Robertson, went out on a morning beer run. They returned to Rogers’ home and Rogers and DeWitt began “play fighting” as they sometimes did, per Robertson’s side of the story. Then Rogers went to get his gun.

Then, according to Rogers, DeWitt charged at him. Rogers he fired a round in self-defense, striking and killing DeWitt.

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Facing possible life in prison for a first-degree premeditated murder charge, Rogers left the Seminole County Jail yesterday after two years of custody. The jurors had decided in favor of Rogers’ self-defense argument.

"He felt like he had no choice but to shoot him, and he did," said Assistant Public Defender Tim Caudill.

Rogers has a history of violence. He shot at his roommate and cousin Michael Rogers 15 times in 2000, fortunately missing him. He also served a few months in prison on domestic violence charges for punching and pushing a woman.

A former Marine, Rogers was blinded during a construction accident. He says he needs the guns for his protection.

"It's my constitutional right. I wasn't carrying these firearms around. I was in my house on a private road in Geneva out of the way," Rogers said.

But even Judge John Galluzzo was reluctant to turn over Rogers’ guns.

“I have to return property that was taken under the circumstance," Galluzzo said. "I have researched and haven't found case law to say otherwise."

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, WESH