Florida Man Fires Four Shots Into The Air And Is Given 20 Years Per Shot To Run Consecutively or 80 Years In Prison

met_-font color='%23FF0000'--b-Ronald--b---font-_-font color='%23FF0000'--b-WiThe Florida Supreme Court is considering a case that raises the limits of state law in a case with a facially excessive sentence. Ronald Williams, 29, fired five shots in the air to scare off what he said were four gay men flirting with him. He was conviction in 2010 of four counts of aggravated assault. However, the trial judge said that state law required that each count — effectively each bullet — be sentenced consecutively rather than concurrently. The result is an excessive 80 year sentence.

Even at 20 years, the sentence would have been remarkably tough and many would argue excessive. However, 80 years is unbelievable. Yet, in oral argument, one of the most liberal members of the Court expressed doubt that the Court could do anything about it in light of the state’s 10-20-life law.

The prosecutors are pushing to keep the mandatory language and preserve the 80 year sentence. The defense however noted that, while the 10-20-life was being debated in the Legislature, a summary of the bill in the Florida House of Representatives stated “this does not prohibit a judge from imposing the sentences concurrently.” The biggest problem is the language of the law.

The law says “The court shall impose any term of imprisonment provided for in this subsection consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed for any other felony offense.” While the defense argued that consecutive sentences applied only to felonies unrelated to the gun offense, Justice Barbara Pariente noted the problem with the “shall” verb: “There’s no question this is a grossly disproportionate sentence and it may not have been what the Legislature intended. But I still don’t see how ‘shall’ can mean ‘may.'” Justice Charles Canady also noted that the legislature stated in another section of the 10-20-life law that said all offenders should be punished to the “fullest extent of the law.”

That would leave a sentence that should shock the conscience of the court. The problem is that the Supreme Court has effectively gutted the limitation on such sentencings under the Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment clause. In Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003), the Court ruled that it did not violate the Constitution for a California jury to impose a 50 years to life sentence under its three-strikes law for a man convicted of shoplifting nine videotapes from a KMart. These petty theft charges would normally be treated as misdemeanors with a $150 fine, but the court and prosecutor insisted on treating them as a felony to trigger the three-strikes law.

On the same day, the Court upheld the sentence of Gary Ewing who stole three golf clubs worth $399 each from the pro shop of the El Segundo Golf Course in El Segundo, California. Again, the Court in Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003), upheld the 25-to-life sentence under California’s three strikes law in a decision by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The problem with this case is that it would be hard to see the deterrent or the retributive value of this sentence. Eighty years for four shots in the air would make a Sharia judge blush.

48 thoughts on “Florida Man Fires Four Shots Into The Air And Is Given 20 Years Per Shot To Run Consecutively or 80 Years In Prison”

  1. Rob Frazier, Good comment. That billionaire is SC Johnson, an heir to the Johnson family fortune. There was also another millionaire Florida rapist who got off incredibly light on Fed charges, I forget his name but he was a big political contributor.

  2. I read about some rich kid drunk driving, killed 4 people never spent a day in jail. Then there’s this billionaire who claims he’s a sex addict and that’s the reason he couldn’t keep his hands off his 12 y/o step daughter… a fine of $6,000 and four months in prison… “Billionaire”… The judge ruled that he must serve at least 60 days of the sentence before he will be eligible for release. So lets make it 2 months. Black man fires 4 warning shots into the air… LIFE!

  3. First, the police should not have arrested him but warned him about the use of a firearm in such a manner , second, once arrested, the prosecutor should not have charged him, but once charged, the judge should have thrown out the case, and once tried, the jury should have nullified the law and acquitted, and failing that, the judge should have exercised leniency and refused to follow the law on the basis of absurdity. Now it is in the hands of an appeals court and given the preceding, what hope does the poor sod have? Also, this total lack of common sense and empathy was driven by racism, so, so obviously.

  4. Bob Esq.
    I mean, what’s next; allowing the President to exercise war powers by claiming he’s fighting a “war on terror?”

    Could you imagine?
    = = =
    Never in America… I mean NEVER!
    We have Laws to follow.

  5. Isn’t this the “stand your ground” State?
    … Or does that only apply if you kill ’em?

  6. Cancel all warning shots in Florida, just shoot to kill, you have a better chance, less witnesses

  7. The article does not state whether the gay guys were white. We are talking Florida here. The defendant needs to start interposing some defenses into his case now. I would go with First Amendment right to speech, Second Amendment right to bear arms and fire them, Ninth Amendment right to privacy, and Fourteenth Amendment right to fair trial, due process, equal protection, and enforcement of the First, Second, Fourth, Sixth and Ninth Amendments in a State criminal proceeding. He needs the NRA to file an Amicus Brief in his appeal. He needs the Innocence Project.

  8. Does the guy who starts the race at the FL racetrack get 20 years when he fires the pistol and starts the race? This IS about race. FL is known for it. 20:1 odds this poor schmuck dies in prison.

  9. That’s 20 years due to a bad law, plus 60 years for being born with brown skin. Imagine the media coverage and subsequent public outcry about this sentence if this were a wealthy white person who claimed the firing was to scare off young black men wearing hoodies.

  10. This guy shoots 4 times in the air to ward off 4 gay guys. And gets 80 years.

    In the mean time, Obama released the Taliban terrorist dream team. They vowed to come back harder and stronger than ever.
    You know what the Taliban due to gay guys? They kill them. And straight people too. And school girls too.

  11. Literally an insane sentence promoting real crime where persons are tortured to death or otherwise killed because ‘it makes no difference’, ‘no justice anyway’. Its like the overharsh sentences on statutory rape that encourage the perpetrator to torture and kill the victim next time as the sentence is the same.

  12. My previous reply was not published. I will split it into two parts and see if that works.

    Paul C. Schulte wrote: “FDR could only ask for war to be declared. Congress declares war.”

    I am well aware of that. I was trying not to write a tome.

    Of course, that is very different today, with Congress ceding authority for approving treaties and starting wars via the many fast-track mechanisms and War Powers Resolution.

  13. Isn’t this the Florida that champions a stand your ground law where you can KILL someone and yet you get 20 yrs for shooting into the air? Really? Gee, we’re getting better here. It took 11 posts for the race card to be played this time.

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