When two drivers encountered each other on the narrow and quiet streets of St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood, no one would have guessed it would have led to road rage, a shooting, and the death of one man.
Now, a trial has finally started almost three years later to determine if the shooter will walk away after claiming he shot two men in self-defense.
What Happened on the Road?
On March 27, 2019, Quentin Hicks, 42, was driving a black convertible BMW while in town visiting from California. He was on his way to see his father and in his front passenger seat was Tyler Oliverbrooks Acker, now 34.
The two were driving through the narrow streets of St. Petersburg’s Historic Old Northeast neighborhood when Acker says they thought they had the right-of-way and drove through an intersection. At that time, they were cut off by a Blue Hyundai Santa Fe driven by William Shutt, now 34. The BMW turned down a street and then the car driven by Shutt appeared again and began to taunt them.
According to reports, Hicks and Shutt then pulled up next to each other at the same intersection.
Acker and Shutt have different accounts of what happened next.
Shutt’s attorney, Roger Futerman, says the two men in the BMW yelled at his client. According to a story by the Tampa Bay Times, Futerman said Hicks yelled, “I’m going to f – – king kill you,” at Shutt, and that Acker yelled, too.
Shutt says he thought Hicks reached down to grab something. Shutt assumed Hicks was reaching for a gun. That’s when Shutt fired his own gun, shooting both Hicks and Acker. Hit by the bullet, Hicks drove through the intersection and crashed into a tree. He died on the scene while Acker suffered a gunshot to his leg.
Acker denies Shutt’s claims. He says he and Hicks didn’t yell and that their hands were clearly visible the entire time.
An Arrest One Week Later
It took one week for Shutt to be arrested for the shooting. He was charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, and he has been held without bail at the Pinellas County jail since his arrest in April 2019. His trial began this week.
In opening statements, Prosecutor Elizabeth Traverso pointed to the careless, remorseless way that Shutt handled himself after the shooting. She said Shutt didn’t call 911 after the incident. He didn’t tell his girlfriend. Instead, evidence shows he searched for information about countries that didn’t allow extradition back to the United States, according to reports by the Tampa Bay Times.
Police say that during their investigation, they found that Shutt had stockpiled weapons. He also saved videos and articles about mass shootings and murder. A search warrant says that Shutt also confessed to another shooting in an antique store in Delaware.
Shutt also had a record of careless driving. Just five days prior to the shooting, Shutt was cited for careless driving after causing a crash. According to a story by 10 Tampa Bay, he was also cited for reckless driving in 2018.
Despite the evidence against him, Shutt and his attorneys are claiming that he acted in self-defense. Will it work?
How To Prove Self Defense
In Florida, laws protect people who use deadly force when they feel their life is threatened.
Often referred to as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Florida Statute 776.012 says:
“A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.”
Florida Statute 782.02 also addresses self defense. It reads:
“The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.”
In self defense cases, a criminal defense attorney can argue that a defendant’s life was threatened, and they acted with deadly force to protect themself. To prove their case, Shutt’s attorney will need to prove that Shutt felt that Hicks and Acker were planning to take Shutt’s life before he took Hicks.
If Shutt fails to prove his claim, he could face life in prison.
The trial will continue this week.
Talk to an Attorney You Can Trust
Facing any type of criminal charge is serious, and you need an attorney you can trust by your side. If you need legal advice about a criminal charge against you, talk to an experienced attorney right away to ensure that you get the most just and fair outcome possible.
If you need assistance, contact TJ Grimaldi today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 to schedule a call and discuss your case directly with TJ.