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Courts / Law

The Valrico 'stand your ground' case ends with a Trevor Dooley guilty plea and probation

The entrance to the Twin Lakes subdivision includes a concrete welcome sign in grey and blue, white fencing, palm trees, and two bicyclists riding past.
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The Valrico subdivision entrance near the basketball course where the shooting took place.

Trevor Dooley, 80, pleaded guilty and was convicted of manslaughter with a weapon in the fatal shooting on a basketball court 11 years ago. He was sentenced to probation.

The case involving a fatal shooting on a Valrico basketball court 11 years ago has ended in a plea deal.

Trevor Dooley, now 80, pleaded guilty Tuesday in the death of David James, 41, on a Valrico basketball court in 2010 and was convicted of manslaughter with a weapon, according to the state attorney's office.

Dooley will serve an additional three years of probation on top of the two years in prison he has already served.

Dooley has been under court supervision with limited freedom, unable to travel without permission, ever since he shot and killed James during an argument about a teenager on a skateboard on Sept. 26, 2010.

In 2012, a jury convicted Dooley of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by 10 years of probation. Dooley appealed his conviction and served more than two years in prison before he was permitted to bond out while his appeal was reviewed.

In 2019, an appeals court overturned his conviction, saying that Dooley’s Stand Your Ground defense at trial had merit and the jury should have been instructed to consider Dooley’s Stand Your Ground claims when determining whether he was guilty.

Dooley had been set for a new trial in the coming weeks, but Tuesday’s plea brings the case to an end.

After the appeals court found that Stand Your Ground applies in this case, prosecutors were left with few options. If a new trial were held, the Stand Your Ground defense would have created substantial challenges for prosecutors, and the James family would have to relive the pain of losing their father and husband again—in detail—during a second trial. If a new trial were held and Dooley were convicted, Dooley may never actually serve prison time—instead, he may be eligible to bond out of prison again during his appeal. Today’s plea agreement guarantees that Dooley will face some level of accountability for his actions and brings closure to this ongoing ordeal for the family of David James.
Statement from the State Attorney's Office, 13th Judicial Circuit.

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