The Florida Supreme Court could decide whether a car can be considered a weapon in criminal cases.
Attorneys have filed a notice asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue in a Duval County manslaughter case stemming from the death of a man who was fatally struck by a car after an altercation at a bar.
The 1st District Court of Appeal last month upheld the conviction of the driver of the car, Adam Lloyd Shepard, on a charge of manslaughter with a weapon. Under state law, the use of a weapon bumped up the manslaughter charge from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.
Shepard challenged the reclassification of the crime to a first-degree felony based on the car being considered a “weapon.” While the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected Shepard's argument, it acknowledged that its conclusion differed from a ruling in a case in the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
In the notice filed Monday with the Supreme Court, Shepard's attorneys pointed to the conflicting appellate rulings in asking justices to resolve the issue. The Shepard case stemmed from a 2011 incident in which Shepard got into an altercation with another man at a sports bar while watching a basketball game.
Shepard was convicted of hitting the man with a car in a parking lot and leaving the scene, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruling said. The appeals court did not name the victim, but Florida Times-Union reports identified him as Spencer Schott, who died of head injuries.