FORT PIERCE – Ashlyn Salomon’s claim of self-defense in a fatal shooting was rejected Friday by a Circuit Court jury, which found him guilty of second-degree murder with a firearm.
Salomon, 26, fatally shot neighbor Jonathan Maciel, 34, after the two men scuffled at dusk on the evening of Aug. 23, 2016, outside their apartments in the 2900 block of Avenue D.
Salomon had been the first Treasure Coast defendant to test Florida’s new Stand Your Ground law that made it easier for defendants to successfully claim they were protecting themselves when they commit violence.
Though Florida enacted in June a new Stand Your Ground law that shifts the burden of proof in pretrial hearings from defendants to prosecutors to prove whether force was used lawfully, there is disagreement in the courts whether it should be applied retroactively.
Before rejecting the Stand Your Ground argument in a ruling in November, Circuit Judge Steven Levin allowed Salomon’s attorney, Lance Richard of Stuart, to argue for dismissal under both versions of the law.
After six days of evidence and testimony, the jury of four women and two men deliberated more than five hours over two days to find Salomon guilty as charged.
“I’m glad the jury was able to look at all the facts,” said Assistant State Attorney Bernard Romero.
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Richard said he thinks there are issues for appeal in both the trial and the Stand Your Ground hearing.
Salomon faces a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence for using a firearm and up to life in prison from Levin, who set sentencing for Feb. 22.
Salomon had told Fort Pierce police, and reiterated during testimony at trial, that he was on break at his job at a nearby Walmart when his girlfriend called him because there was an argument between her mother and Maciel over another woman.
When Salomon arrived minutes later, he and Maciel briefly scuffled before Maciel dashed into his apartment.
Salomon, who had a concealed weapons permit, said he feared for his life because Maciel had boasted previously about owning guns, so he retreated to his car, where he had his gun holstered.
He said he opened fire as Maciel walked toward him with one hand behind his back, as though hiding a weapon.
“The only person who saw Mr. Maciel walking in that awkward, silly manner was the defendant,” Romero said. “Even from those who loved and cared about him (Salomon) had a contrary view.”
Romero also noted Salomon appeared to contradict himself in his interview with Fort Pierce detectives when he told them he had the only firearm.
Maciel was shot seven times, mostly in his back as he fled Salomon, who fired 17 shots, emptying his magazine.
Jurors had to sort through conflicting testimony from use-of-force experts presented by each side.
They were not allowed to give an opinion on whether the shooting was justified, but Fort Pierce Police Sgt. Don Christman and Port Salerno-based Dennis Root, a former Martin County Sheriff’s deputy, gave their analysis of the circumstances.