9 Investigates

‘My son’s not coming home’: Father seeks justice after unarmed Winter Park native shot, killed in alleged ‘stand your ground’ case

Investigators say Winter Park native Ryan Modell was intoxicated when he went up to the wrong door of a Lee County apartment complex around 2 a.m. They said he was trying to get to his girlfriend’s place.

Instead, he went to the unit of Patrice and James Taylor, awaking the sleeping couple.

Moments later, Modell was dead.

Investigators said Modell was unarmed when James Taylor shot and killed him.

READ: Ex-deputy says he was followed for 4 miles before firing in fatal road rage shooting

No charges were field. No grand jury was empaneled. There was never a “stand your ground” hearing. Instead, the state attorney in Lee County ruled the shooting was justified.

“I owe it to my son to get some measure of justice here,” Ryan’s father, Sandy Modell, told Channel 9 investigative reporter Christopher Heath.

Heath discovered where a person “stands their ground” in Florida may determine if they ever stand before a judge.

9 Investigates found cases in Indian River, Martin and Saint Lucie counties where charges were never brought by state attorneys following a shooting and an invocation of “stand your ground.”

Even the author of the stand your ground law, Sen. Dennis Baxley, said that trend is concerning, saying state attorneys have wide discretion, and some may only focus on the shooting, not the events preceding it.

Sandy Modell said that’s unacceptable.

In his son’s case, dispatchers told Patrice Taylor to keep her husband inside the home.

“He’s drunk, and we’re trying to get him to leave us alone,” she said.

“Just make sure your doors are locked and your husband stays inside the house,” the dispatcher said.

But that didn’t happen. What did happen is unclear.

James Taylor and an eyewitness told deputies that Modell charged at him, the case has never been heard in a trial.

Sandy Modell is now asking the governor to move his son’s case and send it to another state attorney to reassess it.

The results might be the same, he said, but at least he’d know he did all he could for his son.

“It will never change the end result, my son’s not coming home,” Sandy said.

The governor’s office said it is still considering the request from the Modell family to have the case moved. Meanwhile the family is working with attorney Mark O’Mara to get the governor to act.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.