TITUSVILLE, Fla. - A Titusville man accused of shooting to death two neighbors and nearly killing a third person will head to trial next week.
William Woodward, 49, is charged in the 2012 Labor Day shooting deaths of Gary Lee Hembree and Roger Picior and the attempted murder of Timothy Blake outside his home on Smith Drive in Titusville, police said.
The state is seeking the death penalty.
The state's position is that there was no imminent threat to Woodward, but the defense has always contended that Woodward suffered months of provocation and was defending his family from a mob of people making threats he believed.
“They convinced him that they were a threat to him and his family. They convinced him they were ready to act at that moment and because they convinced them, he acted,” defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger said.
Woodward tried unsuccessfully to avoid his upcoming trial during a stand-your-ground hearing.
“The defendant did not exercise self-defense. The defendant did not stand his ground,” assistant state attorney Bill Respess said.
Respess described the 2012 shooting as a vigilante attack. He said Woodward dressed in camouflage and waited in his yard before he shot at his neighbors.
Prosecutors asked a judge not to instruct a jury on "justifiable force," because they argue Woodward did not act in self-defense.
The state also asked the judge limit some testimony.
Woodward's attorney told Channel 9’s Melonie Holt the night of the shooting, his client took a position to protect his family.
If the trial should reach the penalty phase, prosecutors also have asked the judge to limit any reference to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The judge is expected to make a decision before jury selection Monday.
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