Judge denies Titusville man's Stand Your Ground defense

William Woodward accused of shooting man, killing 2 others

VIERA, Fla. – A judge ruled on Friday that the man accused of shooting his neighbor 11 times and killing two others in Brevard County was not standing his ground when he opened fire.


William Woodward, 46, faces two charges of first-degree murder in the 2012 deaths of Gary Hembree and Roger Picior. Another man, Bruce Blake, was shot 11 times in the incident, but survived.

Late Friday afternoon, Brevard County Judge James Earp denied Woodward's claim that he was standing his ground when prosecutors said he shot three of his neighbors, killing two in Sept. of 2012. 

"This defendant did not stand his ground," said Earp.

The defense painted a picture that those neighbors were taunting, threatening and verbally abusing Woodward and his family so badly they were scared to even be at their home.

Woodward claims those threats escalated the night of the triple shooting and he was protecting his family.

But Earp disagreed, pointing at testimony Woodward himself gave during the 5-day-long hearing.

"He said he was tired of the taunting and he snapped," said Earp. "He never stated that he felt anyone was coming to do him harm. He never stated that he was under any sort of attack when he shot the victims."

Judge Earp went on to say that this all could've been avoided if Woodward would've stayed inside of his home as the neighbors taunted him.

Instead, Woodward left his home, walked across the street to his neighbor's property, and fired 31 shots at those three unarmed men.

"The evidence supports the conclusion that the defendant was the aggressor and that he intentionally went onto the victim's property in a concealed manor in order to carry out a military-style attack," said Judge Earp.

Because of the ruling, Woodward's case will now be headed to trial. No word on when it will or if the state will pursue the death penalty.

Woodward faces two first-degree premeditated murder charges in the deaths of Hembree and Picior.

He also faces an attempted first-degree premeditated murder charge for wounding Blake.

About the Author:

Justin Warmoth joined News 6 in February 2013 as our Brevard County reporter. In March of 2016, after anchoring the weekend mornings since August of 2015, Justin was promoted to weekday morning anchor. You can catch him Monday through Friday mornings from 5-7 a.m. and at noon.