Using the seemingly popular “Stand Your Ground” defense, David Mota was found not guilty in the shooting death of 22-year-old Joshua Switalski in the road-rage incident in Oro Valley last year.

While the anger might be there, and wanting someone to blame is important and Mota is the one who shot the gun, it’s the laws that we as people need to become worried about.

Starting with Florida in 2005, Stand Your Ground laws were passed by 12 states altogether, including Arizona. The point of said law is to affirm one’s right to defend themselves, even outside of their homes and with deadly force if necessary. The problem with laws, such as Stand Your Ground, is that a person has no duty to retreat from a situation before resorting to deadly force.

In the Oro Valley case last year, Switalski and Mota got into an altercation along Oracle Road while driving cars. Like many, I have a hard time understanding how Mota felt using a gun was the only alternative over just driving away. I understand that I wasn’t there, I don’t know how either person felt in the altercation, but I have a hard time believing the “kill or be killed” defense.

However, it’s a defense that is going to be used a lot, especially after the Florida case where George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of a teenage boy.

In this state, according to Arizona Revised Statute 13-411, deadly force is allowed if a person believes it is necessary to prevent the other’s commission of an occupied structure, burglary, kidnapping, manslaughter, first or second-degree murder, sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation, armed robbery or aggravated assault.

In the case of the Arizona law, there is no duty to retreat before threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force. I have a problem with this portion of the law. Shouldn’t we promote walking away where possible rather than allowing someone to resort to murder.

Since this defense is proving to be effective, defense attorneys are going to continue to use it.  They will continue to use it until either lawmakers step in and make necessary amendments to the laws, or prosecutors get inventive on how to charge people involved in such incidents.

As one who listened to the entire Zimmerman trial, I actually believe he should have been acquitted for the charges prosecutors actually brought against him. I still don’t understand why prosecutors in the case didn’t go for lesser charges that would have assured he would be punished for taking a young man’s life.

However, many know politics and racial issues got in the way of properly taking care of the situation.

In the Oro Valley case, Mota was charged with first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and aggravated assault.

While the first-degree murder charge could be tough to prove, I think the prosecutors were right to charge Mota with a drive-by shooting and aggravated assault. I still don’t understand what the jury was thinking in finding him not guilty on all counts. 

Are incidents that result in deaths such as this going to have to be reviewed more by prosecutors? Despite the law, will prosecutors have more luck by bringing charges such as vehicular homicide? What about manslaughter? Or, will this law be a blanket defense that won’t allow justice for the victim’s who are lost in such tragedies.

One now has to wonder how many more deaths will take place, how many more defendants will be acquitted before those who have a responsibility to do so take notice.

(7) comments

John Flanagan

I agree with you. The use of deadly physical force in defense obligates one to use rational measures first, retreating when possible, to avoid pulling the trigger automatically. The exception is usually at night, in your home, when an intruder breaks into the house. Then you can shoot and there is no obligation to retreat. Even in a burglary situation, if an intruder is running away, and not a threat, you cannot just shoot them in the back. That would get you into jail. In the case of Mr Mota, it appears he was not justified in killing the other driver, and he knows it. Stand your ground laws should specify when one can use physical force, and when it is not justified.

Miguel Gonzalez

Many people that are in favor of Duty to Retreat, do so under the misconception that it is the individual under attack the one that gets to legally determine if he retreated enough before being forced to defend himself....and they would be terribly wrong.
The determination if a person retreated enough is in the hands of either the police or the district attorney, people who were not present at the events and who only have your word (You, the suspect and let me repeat the word SUSPECT) and possibly some evidence that is not a clear cut as in the CSI TV series.
In a perfect world, police or DA would understand that a law abiding citizen, without any record, family person, church goer, etc. would be very unlikely to be the one responsible for the altercation. However, many prosecutors in many states have a great desire to make a name for themselves and get re-elected, so they go after unfortunate people to beef up their conviction record and appear butch to the voters. DAs forget that their duty is to seek Justice and not to win cases, but apparently that is not the case anymore.
That is why we need laws like SYG.

A Citizen

Miguel -

Clearly, you are forgetting that in our country, one is "innocent until proven guilty." The determination is not in the hands of either the police or the DA. If they decide to even bring a case, the determination is with the jury and/or the judge. That is how the legal system works. Moreover, in order to get a guilty verdict in such a case, the DA would have to bring forth enough evidence (eye witnesses, for example) to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the individual under attack was not retreating.

You are using scare tactics. I wonder why.

A Citizen

John -

I have never before agreed with one of your comments, but I couldn't be more supportive of what you said here. If you and I can end up on the same page regarding "Stand Your Ground" laws, I cannot imagine there is a majority in our state that supports it in its existing form. Let's hope the legislature realizes this sooner than later.

John Flanagan

"A Citizen"

I fully realize everyone has their own opinions, and although I am passionate about various issues, I am a strong advocate for freedom of speech and viewpoint expression. I believe political correctness is a form of oppression used as a club by some in our culture in order to silence dissent and intimidate others from expressing their views. I respect your right to disagree with me and anyone else. It is the American way.

Miguel Gonzalez

"Starting with Florida in 2005, Stand Your Ground laws were passed by 12 states altogether, including Arizona. "

That is factually wrong. Stand Your Ground goes back as a well established law to 1895 via a Supreme Court decision (Beard v. United States – 158 U.S. 550) and then ratified in 1921 with Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335.

"if a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant he may stand his ground and that if he kills him he has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self defence. That has been the decision of this Court. Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife"


Hey Miguel if you read any of Chris floral articles you would know that this definitely not a stand your ground case she nails it on the head my son's car was in front of his my son had no gun David mota had 3 in the car he was a marine taught to shoot to kill he could have driven away called 911 no he didn't and these jurors weren't apparently listening we need to change this law or ppl are going to kill because they can

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