An Orlando man is claiming self-defense after he was charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing a 21-year-old man, who he says he believed was trying to burglarize his home.
Authorities say Ricardo Sanes was found with multiple gunshot wounds on Thursday morning (Jan. 16) in an apartment complex near the home of Claudius Smith.
According to reports and accounts recorded by police, Smith, 32, ran out of his home and chased after Sanes after Smith’s girlfriend, Angela Kemraj, said she saw someone on the surveillance monitor crossing their lawn. Kemraj told police she saw Smith leave the house and hop a fence in pursuit. Following his arrest at his sister's apartment, Smith allegedly admitted to the shooting.
Smith told police that he had previous issues with burglars and was certain Sanes was one of them. Smith pulled his gun when he confronted Sanes. A fight broke out, with Sanes allegedly throwing the first punch. Smith said he feared that Sanes was reaching for a gun and therefore opened fire. Investigators say they found a gun stuffed in Sanes' pants. But police who examined his body say that he had been shot in the back, which may cast doubt on Smith's account.
This case has eerie similarities to the George Zimmerman case (also in the state of Florida), which became one of the biggest national stories since the O.J. Simpson murder trial. At the core of that case was whether or not Zimmerman - who was found not guilty by a grand jury - had the right to self-defense in the murder of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
An overarching political debate took form as it related to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, which gives a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend themselves without the requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. Some are already looking at this murder as a second-coming of the Zimmerman case. However, considering the issue of race played a critical factor in the Zimmerman-Martin saga, it’s unlikely this case will garner as much attention.
(Photos from left: Courtesy of Orlando Police Department, Courtesy of Orange County Jail)