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Reporter: Julie Montanaro; Heather Biance Email

Suspects Claim Self Defense in Deadly Shootout: UPDATE

UPDATED 5.24.2010 by Julie Montanaro

A gun battle on Holton Street back in 2008 is now turning into quite a court battle.

Last week, a judge ruled that Jeffrey Brown and Andrea Tyler were immune from prosecution for a shooting that killed 15 year old Michael Jackson back in January 2008. Judge Terry Lewis ruled they fired in self defense that night.

Now prosecutors have filed an appeal and asked the First District Court to stay all the proceedings.

Attorneys for Brown and Tyler said they're not surprised by the appeal.

John Eagan, who represents Andrea Tyler, says the state has every right to appeal but is confident the appeals court will uphold Lewis's decision. "You can't pick and choose who is going to benefit from a law," he says.

Josh Zelman represents Jeffrey Brown. I don't see where they have a good faith reason to appeal," he says, "but I'm not surprised they're trying."

An attorney for the lone remaining defendant, Jamal Taylor, objects to the stay. Daren Shippy said, "My client has a right to go to trial and get this resolved."

Prosecutor Jeremy Mutz says he filed the appeal Friday and says it could months before the DCA issues a ruling.

UPDATED 5.18.2010 7pm by Julie Montanaro

Two gang members are deemed immune from prosecution in a deadly shootout and the state attorney is calling on the legislature to repeal the stand your ground law.

The judge ruled Monday that Jeffrey Brown and Andrea Tyler were acting in self defense when they shot and killed rival gang member Michael Jackson on Holton Street back in February 2008.

The state attorney contends this is not what the stand your ground law is designed to do.

Grady Jordan heads up Leon County's Gang Intelligence Unit and serves on the Attorney General's Gang Reduction Task Force. He says this ruling won't change a thing for the men and women on the streets who try to combat gang violence.

"The sheriff's office and law enforcement officers are going to continue to investigate and bring these cases to the courts. The rulings the judges make, we really can't base what we do on the rulings the judges make. We're out here to protect the public," Jordan said.

Some say the ruling could fuel a flurry of self defense claims from gang members accused of crimes. Others say it hasn't happened yet and the law has been in effect for nearly five years.

A spokeswoman for Florida's Attorney General says in this case, the court made a decision about whether the defendants had a right to defend themselves regardless of whether they were gang members. She had no further comment on the impact it may have on the future prosecution of gang members.

Updated 5.18.2010 12:14 a.m. by Heather Biance

At 3:15 Monday afternoon, Andrae Tyler was dressed in his jail blues.

15 minutes later he was a free man.

I kept my faith and God has blessed with this day to be released," says Andrae Tyler.

The 24-year-old had no idea he was about to be granted his freedom after Judge Terry Lewis dropped manslaughter charges Monday, saying he exercised his right to self defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs agrees with the judge's interpretation of the law applying to this case, but says the ramifications of what this means can be detrimental to Florida's streets.

"Basically this law has put us in the posture that our citizens can go out into the streets and have a gun fight and the dead person is buried and the survivor of the gun fight is immune from prosecution," says Florida State Attorney, Willie Meggs.

Tyler's Attorney doesn't believe this will bring us back to the the times of the old west, meeting at high noon for a duel.

"Self defense is self defense, whether it's a gang member or any person on the street," says John Eagen, Andrae Tyler's Attorney.

But for the family of 15-year-old Michael Jackson who was shot and killed during the exchange of fire that night back in 2008, they might think differently.

With a clean slate, but remorse for what happened, Tyler says he's thankful for a second chance.

"By me being in there for those 16 months, I found myself. I finally got myself on the right track and I know what I need to be doing from now on," says Andrae Tyler.

Tyler says he's been working on his G.E.D. while being incarcerated and will continue his education.

The manslaughter charges against the other defendant Jeffrey Brown have also been dropped, but he's serving a 5 year sentence for his involvement in the first shooting that took place that same night.

Here's what Brown's Attorney has to say about the ruling.

"It's unfortunate that he does not get to go home as Andrae Tyler did this afternoon, however, I'm sure when I go talk to him shortly, that he's going to be excited about the ruling and the fact that he's been vindicated," says Joshua Zelman, Jeffrey Brown's Attorney.

Additional Facts:

The Florida Stand Your Ground Law was put into place in late 2005, which says if a person is fearful that someone will cause them harm, they have the right to self defense even if that means using deadly force.

This is vastly different from the previous law called "Duty to Retreat" which required a person to attempt to avoid using deadly force is possible.

Florida's State Attorney's Office is extremely concerned with what kind of message this is sending.

UPDATED 5.17.2010 7pm by Julie Montanaro

Andrea Tyler has been released from the Leon County Jail.

Second Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs says he will ask the governor and legislature to repeal Florida's Stand Your Ground law. He says it gives the green light for gunfights in the streets.
UPDATED 5.17.2010 by Julie Montanaro

A judge has dismissed manslaughter charges against two men accused in a deadly gang shootout on Holton Street.

Judge Terry Lewis says Jeffrey Brown and Andrea Tyler were standing their ground the night that 15 year old Michael Jackson was shot in February 2008.

"I find from the evidence, both sides to this shootout expected, anticipated and even welcomed the additional confrontation," Judge Terry Lewis wrote in his order.

Lewis's ruling included the fact that Independent witnesses testified that Jackson and his friend, Jamal Taylor, fired the first shots in the confrontation.

Brown is serving time for another shooting that occurred earlier the same night, but Tyler is expected to be released from the Leon County Jail today.

In his order, Judge Terry Lewis was critical of the stand your ground law, however. "The law would appear to allow a person to seek out an individual, provoke him into a confrontation, then shoot and kill him if he goes for his gun. Contrary to the State's assertion, it is very much like the Wild West."

State Attorney Willie Meggs says he will call on the governor to call a special session to change the law. He says it okays gun battles in the streets.

WCTV attempted to reach Michael Jackson's family though the victim advocate at the State Attorney's Office.

They have no comment at this time.

UPDATED 4.27.10 6:30pm

The judge says he will take self defense claims under advisement and try to issue a ruling by May 18th.

Judge Terry Lewis says he intends to visit the scene of the shooting himself before making a decision.

UPDATED 4.27.10 5:50pm

Three young men were supposed to go on trial in Tallahassee this week for a shocking gang shootout that left a 15 year old dead.

Yet two of the men are now claiming they fired those shots in self defense and they've asked a judge to drop the charges.

15 year old Michael Jackson was shot in the head when police say rival gang members faced off on in their cars on Holton Street that night in February 2008.

Jim Jones saw it all from his corner apartment and crawled into a bedroom to make sure his kids were okay. He says the cars turning into the driveway fired first and then the big guns fired up.

"A lot of times. I heard like a loud gunshot, boom,boom,boom,boom,boom,boom, um, after the smaller gunshots," Jones said.

Jeffrey Brown and Andrea Tyler are accused of manslaughter in Jackson's death. Brown claims a caravan of cars - carrying Jackson and other northsiders - fired first, so Tyler got out of the backseat and answered back with an AK47.

"Andrea Tyler got out, exited the passenger side and returned fire," Brown said.

"Returned fire with what?" asked defense attorney Josh Zelman.

"An AK47."

Yet prosecutors hammered Brown with questions. Why did he and Tyler get rid of the gun? Why did he hide his car behind his grandmother's house? The prosecutor pointed out police found more than two dozen shells from the AK47 that night and only one from a gun linked to Jackson's friends.

"This wasn't revenge, this was an ambush," prosecutor Jeremy Mutz argued.

At last word, that hearing was still underway in courtroom 3A. We'll let you know what the judge decides.

A third man accused in the case, is not claiming self defense. He was riding in the car with victim Michael Jackson when he was shot.
Updated 12:09pm 4-27

The prosecutor calls the shooting an ambush. He says there was only one shell casing found associated with Michael Jackson's friends and the Northside gang, but says there were 24 or 25 rounds from Brown's AK47.

He called that an overwhelming disparity of force.
Updated 11:08am 4-27

Suspect Jeffrey Brown is now on the stand. He says he had an AK47 and a High Point 380 in his car. He said he went to Holton Street to see his baby's mama and as he left he saw a caravan of cars coming toward him.

He said he heard shots and put his car in reverse then stopped.

He says Andrea Tyler got out of his back seat and returned fire and he ducked down behind the wheel.

Prosecutors ask Brown if he was defending himself, why did he get rid of the gun and try to hide his car behind his grandmother's house?
Two of the three men accused in a deadly shootout are trying to
convince a judge that they acted in self defense the night Michael Jackson was killed back in February 2008.

Jeffrey Brown, Andrea Tyler, and Jamal Taylor are all accused of manslaughter in Jackson's death. Brown and Tyler have filed motions to have the charges dropped, claiming they acted in self defense.

Jackson was shot in the head and killed during the shootout on Holton Street.

One of Jackson's friends took the stand and said a line of cars, with Jackson and Taylor leading the way in a white truck, were pulling in to a Holton Street apartment complex when they heard gunfire. He says he ducked and did not see who was shooting.

A resident there said he heard small arms fire first and then a lot of big arms fire next.

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