Legislation inspired by Florida’s Trayvon Martin case died in a Louisiana Senate committee Tuesday amid questions on whether it was necessary.
Senate Bill 719 by state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, would have rewritten the state’s justifiable homicide law.
“What I don’t want to happen in this state is that we have permission to murder,” she told the Senate Committee on Judiciary C.
She said the legislation would keep Louisiana’s castle doctrine intact, giving homeowners no duty to retreat when their home is attacked.
Dorsey-Colomb said she also was not trying to take away the right to bear arms since she carries a gun herself. “Withdraw is the key to this,” she said.
Dorsey-Colomb said she wanted to make it clear that someone cannot be the aggressor and then claim self defense under the state’s justifiable homicide law.
State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, said the legislation would make the law unclear.
Michelle Ghetti, a professor at the Southern University Law Center, agreed with White.
“This bill, even in amended form, is not clear,” Ghetti said. “I would be at a loss on how to instruct a judge on how to craft a jury instruction.”
Dorsey-Colomb, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Judiciary C, was the only legislator to vote in favor of advancing the legislation. Four other committee members voted against sending the bill to the full Senate.
SB719 is one of at least two bills inspired by the Martin case.
In the House, state Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, filed House Bill 1100 to no longer allow a person to pursue an aggressor “if the aggressor retreats before deadly force is used.”
Martin was a Florida teenager who was shot to death in February by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.