Former Marine Who Shot Drinking Buddy Walks Free

| by Lina Batarags

On March 27, 2012, a night of drinking between two friends turned ugly when former Marine John Wayne Rogers, 40, shot his friend James DeWitt, 34.

DeWitt had been staying at Rogers’ house in central Florida. Accounts vary on what happened next.

According to Rogers’ testimony, when he asked DeWitt to leave, DeWitt attacked him. Rogers, who “felt he had no choice but to shoot him,” fired a round from a .308 Remington assault rifle. The shot hit DeWitt in the chest.

DeWitt’s girlfriend, however, who was also present at the house, has stated otherwise. According to Christina Ann Robertson, it was while the two men were “play fighting”, as they often did, that Rogers grabbed his gun and shot DeWitt.

Rogers is legally blind as a result of a work-related accident in 2001, and walks with a cane. Neighbors, however, have expressed doubt about the severity of his impairment; some remain suspicious that he can, in fact, see.

Rogers has spent the past two years in the Seminole County Jail. Now, claiming self-defense, he has escaped first-degree murder charges under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” rule, which exists in about half the states. The “Stand Your Ground” law allows anyone to use deadly force, given that he or she is faced with a reasonable fear of death or great injury.

This is not the first time that Rogers has mixed the lethal combination of guns and alcohol.

Four years ago, he faced similar charges when, after a night of drinking, he shot at his cousin. He cut a deal with prosecutors, and was let off with probation.

Interestingly, this shooting occurred in the same county as did the now-infamous February 2012 case in which George Zimmerman shot unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The court decided that Zimmerman had acted out of self-defense, and he was ultimately acquitted of second-degree murder.

Since the Zimmerman case, defense attorneys have increasingly tried to use the “Stand Your Ground” law as means to grant their clients immunity; few have succeeded.

Sources: Daily News, Orlando Sentinel

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