Brevard man denied request for jury to hear 'stand your ground' case

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Brevard County man accused of killing two of his neighbors will have to convince a judge he was following Florida's "stand your ground" law when he started shooting.

William Woodward said he was just trying to protect his family.

The judge denied his request to have a jury hear the stand your ground case.

His defense attorney said he expected that because it's is the first time anyone in Florida has made that request.

So he plans to appeal to a higher court and ultimately believes the state supreme court could decide this issue.

The shadowy figure police say is William Woodward in surveillance video and moments later the sound of gunfire still haunts Dorothy Huppert.

"I'm not going to have Gary back, ever. I'll never have him back," Huppert said.

Her son Gary Hembree, and his friend Roger Picior died, while Bruce Blake was seriously wounded last year during a shooting rampage in Titusville.

Their neighbor Woodward, is the only suspect.

Last month, his attorney asked a judge for immunity from prosecution based on "stand your ground."

Woodward told police he felt threatened.

"They've made our life a living hell, we can't go anywhere without an escort," Woodward said in a police interview.

His attorney wanted a jury to decide the issue, not the judge.

The judge has denied that motion, ruling she will hear the "stand your ground" case.

"We're going to appeal to the 5th District Court of Appeal," defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger said.

Eisenmenger still believes his client has the right for a jury to decide that issue but this is the first time anyone in Florida has made this request.

Hembee's family is still outraged at the claim the case is "stand your ground."

They gave Eyewitness News video Friday where a scuffle can be heard. They said Woodward attacked Hembree outside the courthouse days before the shooting and they say the victims were never armed.

"Gary never had any weapons, they never had weapons and they know it," Huppert said.