A 70-year-old Florida woman is waiting to see whether she will face criminal charges for fatally shooting a 38-year-old home intruder Sunday at her residence in Orange County in what may become another test of the Sunshine State’s stand-your-ground law.
According to WRBW/Fox News 35, Virginia Morrison reportedly gave Ezequiel Rosario-Torres an opportunity to leave, and even tried to hit him with a broom to get him out of her house after he entered Sunday afternoon. She even told the intruder she was armed.
Fox News reported that her longtime partner, Charlie “retrieved his gun and fired a warning shot.” Still, the intruder refused to leave. After Charlie fired a round, Morrison grabbed her own gun and also fired a shot, at which point the man advanced on her. She fired above him and told him to “back off.” He continued to move closer so she brought the muzzle down and fired, hitting him in the torso.
Rosario-Torres was transported to a local hospital, where he died.
WRBW quoted Orlando attorney Mike Panella, who suggested Morrison’s actions could fall within the state’s use-of-force statute.
The case will now be up to investigators to sort through the physical evidence and then turn everything over to the State Attorney’s office for review.
Legally-armed private citizens use firearms in self-defense tens of thousands of times annually, according to various studies. In a majority of those cases, a shot is never fired, but when there is a shooting, it is investigated thoroughly. Each state’s self-defense or use-of-force statute(s) may differ slightly, but in cases where the armed citizen is in genuine fear of suffering grave bodily harm or death, the use of lethal force is acceptable.
“I have God in my life,” Morrison told a reporter. “That’s my main thing, wondering if God’s going to forgive me for taking a life. It bothers me.”
According to WESH News, Morrison said the suspect never uttered a word, even after he was challenged.
The whole time the guy was here. He never said one word and I never saw his eyes move,” she said. “Total blank.”
In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says there were more than 1,200 homicides. There were more than 82,000 violent crimes.
The investigation continues.