FL - Sara Morales, 35, shot dead by motorcyclist she hit with car, Orange City, 20 Nov 2021

GatorFL

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No one is saying that someone swerving their car at you is grounds for legally killing them. I am certainly not saying that either.

Someone swerving their car at you, while you are riding on the highway, is a serious infraction. I can understand why someone would want to make sure that the police would come to confront the situation. That seemed to be a serious road rage infraction, on her part, imo.

Now, we have a situation where the cyclist and 2 witnesses are allegedly on a public roadway, in front of her home, and the cyclist is speaking to the 911 dispatcher, about the incident.

At this point, there is NO REASON for the cyclist to pull his weapon. Everything is under control, as they await the officer's arrival.

However, once the woman, who they had followed home, suddenly comes outside, yelling at them and waving her gun around, and approaching them threateningly,[ according to Derr]---that <<< is when the question arises----does he have the grounds to shoot in self defense?

I do not know the answer to that question. I would not have fired at her, as quickly as he did. But then again, she had tried to run into him with her vehicle a few hours earlier, so that may have affected his decision. ?
Spot on, except I would note this. Her mother pointed to the edge of the yard and said she died there. It looked like she was about 75' from the front door, at that spot, to my untrained eye. She wasn't far away from him, she was nearby. Had he waited much longer, she might have shot him. JMO

If that had happened, I wonder how we would be talking about the case? Driver hits biker, biker follows her home, driver goes inside, gets a gun and shoots the biker. Hm.
 

katydid23

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Spot on, except I would note this. Her mother pointed to the edge of the yard and said she died there. It looked like she was about 75' from the front door, at that spot, to my untrained eye. She wasn't far away from him, she was nearby. Had he waited much longer, she might have shot him. JMO

If that had happened, I wonder how we would be talking about the case? Driver hits biker, biker follows her home, driver goes inside, gets a gun and shoots the biker. Hm.

"She wasn't far away from him, she was nearby. Had he waited much longer, she might have shot him. JMO"

As to the bolded above, I think that is why he hasn't been arrested.

IF she was yelling at him threateningly, coming towards him aggressively, while waving her gun around---that can be seen as 'self defense' circumstances. And there is a point of no return, which the police are highly aware of, in which you cannot wait anymore or you will be dead.

I really, truly, wish she had stayed inside and just yelled at them from inside her locked up house. :(
 

evilwise

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I had a private email conversation with a lawyer well versed in this type of law. I can share that with a moderator privately, but I am not going to share it publicly.

The law says you can use justifiable force if you are in imminent danger. The bikers were no longer in imminent danger from Sara's Kia when they were in the street. They were not in danger until Sara came out of her house brandishing a gun. Had she chosen to stay inside, I think none of us would have ever heard about this case.
JMO
Perhaps that lawyer should become verified on websleuths but until such time I don't think they are a valid source on this case. I have posted the applicable laws in Florida that state all someone has to do to be guilty of misdemeanor stalking is to follow someone for no legitimate reason which I do not believe they had considering they already reported her plate number to police - and my question of if they were in fact engaged in misdemeanor stalking whether they still enjoyed the right to stand their ground.

All of these "stand your ground" type laws are legally problematic not just because they hinge in what people believe to be a credible threat but in a lot of other circumstantial factors like we're seeing here but I'll just say that if these guys get off completely scot free then I'll certainly be glad I don't live in the state of Florida.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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Again, harassment (and I am not convinced he committed a crime by following her) does not equal an imminent threat to someone's life.

It certainly can imo.

Take this story. Did the man actually have to threaten them for them to feel scared? I say no. JMO.

‘Please help us:’ Road-rage driver chases couple through Ormond Beach, police say

So she had no right to come out of her house with a gun.

You keep saying this without making it clear it's your opinion. It isn't a fact, either based on the links you provided or the ones I provided. It does not say she can't be outside her home and still feel threatened and use SYG.

There is also a reasonable argument that she was fleeing the scene of an accident. Following someone who has fled an accident is not a crime.

IMO, there's a case to be made that it is a crime when it's road rage and imo, there's more than enough evidence that that's what this was.

She had every right to arm herself inside her home and use justifiable force if and only if the bikers tried to break in. But by standing on the street, a noticeable distance from her, they did not pose an imminent threat to her life under the justifiable force law. Why? Because by standing in the street they were not committing a forcible felony. And if you read the law, those are the thresholds required to use deadly force.

According to this link, that is not true.

"Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law does not require this. The law allows a person to use deadly force anytime they are at risk of bodily harm or they feel their life is threatened. A person does not have a duty to retreat. As long as they are not trespassing onto someone else’s property, they can use deadly force to defend themselves. They can use a weapon in a home, outside, in a parking lot, in a restaurant, movie theater and other areas. They can use guns if they are in areas where concealed weapons are allowed and they have a proper permit."

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law Provides Defense to Weapons Charges


776.013 Home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—
(1) A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use:
(a) Nondeadly force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force; or
(b) Deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

Again, see above. An example of someone using SYG to escape charges outside the home is this:

Mask mandate in Florida: Man who pullled gun in Walmart sues police
 

BeginnerSleuther

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I think it is pretty safe to say that if she did suddenly steer her car INTO the motorcyclist, it would have to be purposeful on her part. I mean, if she wasn't drunk or impaired, how does that happen? Her car moves in the direction she steers it, correct?

I would agree if that was what happened, but according to the witnesses and the damage done, that isn't what happened. She didn't steer "into" the motorcyclist, imo. If she had, there would be much more damage to the bike and to him. Instead, he had a scuff mark on his saddlebags IIRC. My interpretation as I've said before is that she tried to change lanes to get out of there because he was yelling at her, per his own witnesses. It was a dangerous situation and it was escalating and she likely tried to change lanes. I say this because I think if she had intentionally tried to hurt him, there would at the very least be more damage to his motorcycle.

Your 'opinion' may be that she had every right to go outside to order him to leave.

Not sure why you're putting opinion in quotes, but I've never denied it's just my read of the law. All of this is JMO.

But I do not think that is a correct legal opinion. In other words, if one wants the jury to decide who was most responsible for the victim's death, the jury is going to look at the victim's decisions and actions as well.

The victim made some very poor decisions which contributed to her tragic death.

I've addressed that numerous times. No one on this thread that I've seen has said the victim was totally blameless. But she's also not here to defend herself and based on the evidence printed in the media and the accounts from the witnesses, whatever she did that day should not have resulted in her death. MOO.
 

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Driver allegedly rammed into motorcyclist in road rage attack

A crazed driver deliberately slammed his SUV into a motorcyclist Wednesday morning during a wild road rage incident in Manhattan, police said.

The Jeep driver, identified as Oscar Bejar, was taken into custody at the scene and charged assault in the second-degree, criminal mischief, menacing, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, cops said.

The Jeep driver was taken into custody at the scene and charges were pending, police said.

Moments before the collision, both drivers “were stopped at the light, yelling at each other, arguing,” a security guard for the building that houses the BMW dealership told The Post.



So, although this case ended up with the motorcycle being demolished, it is still a case where a driver rammed into a motorcyclist after a road rage incident.

And the police did charge him with 'assault in the 2nd degree.'

Apples and oranges. First off, we don't know that Sara did that and the reason we don't know that is because his motorcycle wasn't even damaged and he wasn't even hurt. I doubt anyone would have charged Sara in such a minor incident. What we know is the two vehicles made contact. That's really it.

JMO.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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I don't think the bikers committed stalking. And regardless, misdemeanor stalking is most definitely NOT an imminent threat to body or life. It also does not meet the justifiable force statute of preventing or stopping a forcible felony. I actually thought the statute on mob intimidation was a better fit, but still a misdemeanor.

Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

Again, I was told by a lawyer the bikers did have the right to pursue to ID her to the authorities and to make a citizen's arrest.

But they didn't make a citizen's arrest. They didn't even start the process. And they never even claimed it even after. Sure, after the fact when there's a dead body they might use that defense, but even now they haven't. Maybe if charges are filed, they will. Who knows?
 

BeginnerSleuther

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But that doesn't matter. There was evidence that Sara's vehicle did make contact with Derr's cycle. So that is attempted vehicular assault, at the least.

I don't think this is correct. Cars and motorcycles do have accidents. The person in the car is not always charged with vehicular assault. If they did it on purpose, yes. Or if there was some negligence, yes. But this is not always the case per my experience of a friend on a motorcycle who was the one who got the citation when a car hit him. Please back that up with a citation if I'm wrong.

Her moving vehicle made contact with his moving motorcycle. What would have happened if it destabilised him? Have you seen what can happen when a cyclist skids sideways on the pavement?

But it didn't, which means that the whole "she swerved into him" thing is an exaggeration by the media or by Derr. If she had actually "swerved into him" as they've said, there would have been some sort of damage or injury. JMO.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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Purposely veering your car into a motorcyclist on the road, is NOT a minor vehicle accident. It is considered road rage and is attempted assault. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between a car ramming into another car, and a car ramming into a defenceless motorcyclist.

My opinion is that the lack of injury or damage means he was not "rammed." This was a fender bender and nothing more, imo, based on the evidence.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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Spot on, except I would note this. Her mother pointed to the edge of the yard and said she died there. It looked like she was about 75' from the front door, at that spot, to my untrained eye. She wasn't far away from him, she was nearby. Had he waited much longer, she might have shot him. JMO

If that had happened, I wonder how we would be talking about the case? Driver hits biker, biker follows her home, driver goes inside, gets a gun and shoots the biker. Hm.

We know she died there. How do we know she was shot there?
 

BeginnerSleuther

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As to the bolded above, I think that is why he hasn't been arrested.

IF she was yelling at him threateningly, coming towards him aggressively, while waving her gun around---that can be seen as 'self defense' circumstances. And there is a point of no return, which the police are highly aware of, in which you cannot wait anymore or you will be dead.

I really, truly, wish she had stayed inside and just yelled at them from inside her locked up house. :(

We know how she was yelling at him because it was all recorded on 911 call linked earlier in the thread. She was telling them she was afraid. I didn't catch that as being threatening.
 

everybodhi

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No one is saying that someone swerving their car at you is grounds for legally killing them. I am certainly not saying that either.

Someone swerving their car at you, while you are riding on the highway, is a serious infraction. I can understand why someone would want to make sure that the police would come to confront the situation. That seemed to be a serious road rage infraction, on her part, imo.

Now, we have a situation where the cyclist and 2 witnesses are allegedly on a public roadway, in front of her home, and the cyclist is speaking to the 911 dispatcher, about the incident.

At this point, there is NO REASON for the cyclist to pull his weapon. Everything is under control, as they await the officer's arrival.

However, once the woman, who they had followed home, suddenly comes outside, yelling at them and waving her gun around, and approaching them threateningly,[ according to Derr]---that <<< is when the question arises----does he have the grounds to shoot in self defense?

I do not know the answer to that question. I would not have fired at her, as quickly as he did. But then again, she had tried to run into him with her vehicle a few hours earlier, so that may have affected his decision. ?
I cannot even count how many bikers in SF and LA I have almost hit while changing lanes during commutes because they approached at a high rate of speed out of my line of sight while I was changing lanes. It’s very upsetting to experience and happens far too often. I inevitably stop my lane change and they pass, sometimes with an obscene gesture as if I’m at fault.
Listening to the morning and afternoon commute traffic on the radio while driving, motorcyclists die regularly, almost daily, and yet very rarely is anyone charged for those deaths, hardly ever. I remember reading a cop was killed making this move and even then the driver who hit him wasn’t charged.
Traveling on roads on a bike one should be extra cautious maneuvering, it’s definitely not a wise position to come at someone with road rage on a bike, kicking cars.
If there is an actual road war, one upping, between an SUV and a bike, the bike will lose every time but that didn’t happen here, there was no traffic injury.

ETA: Police Officer Riding Motorcycle Struck And Killed By Big Rig On I-80 In Vallejo | Dolan Law Firm
 
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wary

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Perhaps that lawyer should become verified on websleuths but until such time I don't think they are a valid source on this case. I have posted the applicable laws in Florida that state all someone has to do to be guilty of misdemeanor stalking is to follow someone for no legitimate reason which I do not believe they had considering they already reported her plate number to police - and my question of if they were in fact engaged in misdemeanor stalking whether they still enjoyed the right to stand their ground.

All of these "stand your ground" type laws are legally problematic not just because they hinge in what people believe to be a credible threat but in a lot of other circumstantial factors like we're seeing here but I'll just say that if these guys get off completely scot free then I'll certainly be glad I don't live in the state of Florida.

MOO

Reporting her plate number doesn’t in any way, shape, or form identify her. It could have been a stolen car—and that’s quite plausible, considering that it was a hit and run. She could deny that she was driving it. She could say that her car hadn’t been anywhere, and they must have written down the wrong number.

MOO
 

GatorFL

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I don't think this is correct. Cars and motorcycles do have accidents. The person in the car is not always charged with vehicular assault. If they did it on purpose, yes. Or if there was some negligence, yes. But this is not always the case per my experience of a friend on a motorcycle who was the one who got the citation when a car hit him. Please back that up with a citation if I'm wrong.



But it didn't, which means that the whole "she swerved into him" thing is an exaggeration by the media or by Derr. If she had actually "swerved into him" as they've said, there would have been some sort of damage or injury. JMO.

Actually the news reports said the investigators were the ones who confirms she hit him on purpose.

"Investigators said that Morales drove her blue Kia into Derr’s motorcycle purposely, then fled the scene. Derr and a witness followed Morales and tried to get her to stop at 17-92 and Wisconsin Ave."

SEE IT: Police Say Pregnant Librarian Shot Dead During Road Rage Tragedy Was the Aggressor
 

GatorFL

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Sara needed 5 bullets in her body to be stopped?
Have you been to a concealed weapons class? I have. They teach you to shoot as many times as possible until the threat is neutralized.

We know she died there. How do we know she was shot there?
She was shot 5 times, I don't think she made it very far. You're a physician, how many steps do you think a gunshot victim with 5 shots in them can go?
 

GatorFL

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It certainly can imo.

Take this story. Did the man actually have to threaten them for them to feel scared? I say no. JMO.

‘Please help us:’ Road-rage driver chases couple through Ormond Beach, police say



You keep saying this without making it clear it's your opinion. It isn't a fact, either based on the links you provided or the ones I provided. It does not say she can't be outside her home and still feel threatened and use SYG.



IMO, there's a case to be made that it is a crime when it's road rage and imo, there's more than enough evidence that that's what this was.



According to this link, that is not true.

"Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law does not require this. The law allows a person to use deadly force anytime they are at risk of bodily harm or they feel their life is threatened. A person does not have a duty to retreat. As long as they are not trespassing onto someone else’s property, they can use deadly force to defend themselves. They can use a weapon in a home, outside, in a parking lot, in a restaurant, movie theater and other areas. They can use guns if they are in areas where concealed weapons are allowed and they have a proper permit."

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law Provides Defense to Weapons Charges




Again, see above. An example of someone using SYG to escape charges outside the home is this:

Mask mandate in Florida: Man who pullled gun in Walmart sues police
Read the law again. The key is that she was not in imminent danger when she was inside her house. The bikers were simply were too far away to pose an imminent threat to her, and since they were not attempting to enter her dwelling, the justifiable force statute did not apply for her at that time.

Ironically, she exited her dwelling with a gun in her hand and so the statute did apply to the bikers, one of which chose to use justifiable force.
 

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Actually the news reports said the investigators were the ones who confirms she hit him on purpose.

"Investigators said that Morales drove her blue Kia into Derr’s motorcycle purposely, then fled the scene. Derr and a witness followed Morales and tried to get her to stop at 17-92 and Wisconsin Ave."

SEE IT: Police Say Pregnant Librarian Shot Dead During Road Rage Tragedy Was the Aggressor

They didn't confirm anything, imo. They said she did it purposely, likely due to Derr and/or witnesses saying that. It's not like that's something that can be investigated as she's not here to talk about her intent. The fact that they worded like that is actually highly suspicious to me. I'm not impressed with level of police work here.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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Have you been to a concealed weapons class? I have. They teach you to shoot as many times as possible until the threat is neutralized.

Where is the legal statute that backs this up? I don't believe she needed 5 bullets to be "neutralized." MOO.

he was shot 5 times, I don't think she made it very far. You're a physician, how many steps do you think a gunshot victim with 5 shots in them can go?

Depends entirely on where she was shot which I don't know. People who are shot (or stabbed) multiple times have been known to crawl, drag themselves, etc until they lose enough blood that they can no longer do that and/or they are shot in a place that either kills them immediately or renders them paralyzed.
 

BeginnerSleuther

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Read the law again. The key is that she was not in imminent danger when she was inside her house. The bikers were simply were too far away to pose an imminent threat to her, and since they were not attempting to enter her dwelling, the justifiable force statute did not apply for her at that time.

Ironically, she exited her dwelling with a gun in her hand and so the statute did apply to the bikers, one of which chose to use justifiable force.

Again, I believe this is your opinion based on your interpretation of the law. I do think she was in imminent danger and that is my opinion based on my interpretation of the law. Neither of us are stating facts here.

But I'm tired of going in circles. We're not going to agree so let's just agree to disagree on this.
 
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