GAINESVILLE, Fla. (February 7, 2020) — A 52-year-old man waits in jail accused of murdering a man with whom he fought. Gainesville police detectives said that the man they re-arrested in this case net nationally rammed the victim with his car, and then returned later that same night to shoot and beat him. The assailant fled and left the victim to die. Gainesville detectives cracked the case that started November 8, 2019, and placed their suspect under arrest. The Gainesville Sun reported that the accused murderer is held on first-degree murder charges in the Alachua County Jail. The man also faces charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. No bond information was immediately available.

Detectives from the Gainesville Police Department working the case said that they found new evidence in the suspect’s car that conclusively links him to the victim’s killing. Detectives said they found the victim’s blood inside of the suspect’s vehicle. The police did not say precisely where in the car, they found the blood.

Police said that the 35-year-old victim succumbed to his wounds on November 8 in his apartment located in the Bella Vista Village mobile home park located at Northwest 39th Avenue. Police canvassed the area of the apartment and located witnesses who said that the man who died was arguing to others in the yard about either drugs or money. The argument allegedly took place four days earlier. Police said that on November 4, the man they arrested drove into the victim with a car. The victim somersaulted, according to witnesses.

The victim survived being hit by the car. The alleged assailant returned later that evening to finish the job. Investigators say the suspect located the victim and shot him after a second argument. The suspect fled in the same car he used to strike the victim earlier in the day. Witnesses to the incident said that the victim stumbled back to his home after the second altercation.

Police initially charged the suspect with aggravated battery and not murder based on the theory that hitting the victim with the car caused blunt force traumatic injuries that eventually caused the man’s death. However, a postmortem examination of the victim revealed a gunshot wound. Detectives now believe that the suspect shot the victim while in the car after locating the victim’s blood within the vehicle. The accused received a previous prison sentence for cocaine trafficking, thereby elevating his statute to a felon in possession of a firearm.

Florida First-Degree Murder Laws

Under §782.04 of the Florida Statutes from 2019, a person facing a first-degree murder charge for deliberate, premeditated murder could be sentenced to death. Florida law defines first-degree murder as a capital felony. The prosecution has 45 days from the date of the suspect’s arraignment to give formal notice to the accused that the government will pursue the death penalty. The alternative penalty for a conviction of first-degree murder is life in prison without the opportunity to make parole.

The person accused of first-degree murder could mount a defense of the charge by arguing misidentification, lack of premeditated design, self-defense, or defense of another depending on the circumstances of the killing. The jury has the option of acquitting the accused or finding that person guilty of the top count on the indictment or a lesser-included offense.