Jacksonville Beach 'Car As Weapon' Case Heard By Fla. Supreme Court

Jun 6, 2018
Originally published on June 7, 2018 3:57 pm

The Florida Supreme Court Wednesday heard arguments in a Jacksonville Beach case that raises the question of whether a car can be considered a weapon in criminal cases.

Adam Shepard was convicted of fatally hitting a man with his car after they left a beach bar in 2011.   

Under state law, the use of a weapon bumped-up the manslaughter charge to a first degree felony, which resulted in Shepard receiving a longer prison sentence.

His attorney argued that an object not designed to kill someone can’t be considered a weapon.

But, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga seemed to think a killer’s intent should determine what’s a weapon.

“Let’s say a roofer drops a hammer from the roof and it lands on some poor guy walking underneath, picking up debris. Intent is not there to enhance the sentence. However, if he picks up the hammer and throws it at him, that’s a whole other thing. That’s what [why] - we’ve got to use common sense here.”

Lower appeals courts in Florida have come to differing conclusions on the car-as-weapon question.

The Florida Supreme Court does not have a deadline to rule on the case.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

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