TAMPA, FLORIDA - Melchisedec Williams, is a legally blind 53-year-old convicted felon. Williams was home alone when what would turn out to be his great-nephew cut the power to his house around 10:30 Sunday night. The nephew broke into the house through a window, made his way to the kitchen, and armed himself with a pair of kitchen knives.
Blind in his left eye from glaucoma and with minimal vision in his right eye, Williams woke to the noise and realized the power was out in the house. When he saw the intruder with a flashlight he called out his great-nephew's name.
With no response, Williams fired a single shot and heard the boy groan,
"That's what made me stop shooting. I was in the dark, and I was ready to unload that gun until I heard his voice."
Williams had taken his great-nephew in just a month ago while the boy's mother was in jail but things simply didn't work out. He had recently told the boy's mother he believed the boy to be homosexual. Williams himself is homosexual and overheard the boy having an openly flirtatious conversation with another teen.
Williams believes that's why his nephew tried to attack him.
As a convicted felon, William's self defense is a hot button in Florida politics at the moment. What has precedence, the prohibition on felons owning firearms or the state's Stand Your Ground lawss. According to the Tampa Tribune,
By law, Williams should not have been in possession of a gun. He has been convicted of grand theft and forgery and, in 1993, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, state records show. Florida law bars felons from possessing guns unless their rights have been restored by the state's Clemency Board, which Williams' haven't, according to a Department of Corrections official.
But there is disagreement about whether convicted felons can use guns to protect themselves under the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law.
Last month, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a Palm Beach County man, a felon, who was charged with shooting a man outside a strip club in 2012. He claimed the shooting was self-defense. Both a trial and appellate court ruled he could not invoke a "stand your ground" defense because he was already a convicted felon in possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting.
But a different appellate court found in a separate case last year that there was at least one part of the "stand your ground" law that could apply even to felons.
Aaron Little killed a man who pointed a gun at him in Lee County, court records show. The 2nd District Court of Appeal determined that a section of the law "does not preclude persons who are engaged in an unlawful activity from using deadly force in self-defense when otherwise permitted."
While prosecutors debate whether to charge Williams, the conversation on felons and the restoration of their rights continues. Do you believe non-violent felons should get their firearms rights reinstated?