Judge rejects man's "Stand your ground" argument in teen beating case

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla.,None - A Brevard County judge rejected a man's argument on Tuesday that he was protecting his property and his family when he beat and kicked a teenager in a video-recorded fight.

The trial is moving forward for Gary Johnson, who is facing time in prison if he's convicted of child abuse and aggravated battery.

The court has started selecting a six-member jury to hear the case.

The judge threw out Johnson's argument that he was just standing his ground, and Johnson even rejected a last minute plea deal from prosecutors.

Johnson's attorney argued on Monday that the 6-foot-4-inch-tall hospital worker was protecting himself and his son under the "stand your ground" law, which was created with the intention to protect homeowners against intruders.

The judge, however, found that the victim in the case, Christopher Mace, was invited onto the property.   Mace testified on Monday that he and Johnson's son organized the after-school fight, and Johnson watched to make sure it was a fair fight.  

However, Mace said Johnson then became involved and hammer-punched Mace, knocking him out and kicking him in the face.

Also, the video shows Johnson stepping in, and after a few words, throwing his own punches.

Judge Morgan Reinman said that was not justifiable use of force.

"Defendant's use of force was not justified as such conduct was not necessary to protect himself or his son," said Reinman.

After the ruling, prosecutors offered a last minute plea deal, agreeing to reduce the felony battery charge to child abuse, but even with that offer, Johnson was still looking at prison time. 

Johnson rejected the deal and now the case will go to trial.

"The video also documents and helps us illustrate exactly what happened, and the point at the end of the day is going to be that this young man, Christopher Mace, initiated physical contact," said defense attorney Ernest Chang.

If Johnson is found guilty, he may face a maximum sentence of 57 years in prison, or a minimum sentence of seven years.