Richard Raciak kills girlfriendclaims self-defense: Cops
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A 48-year-old man in Florida who admitted to shooting his girlfriend twice in the back filed court documents this week stating that he will seek immunity from prosecution under the state’s “stand your ground” law. The documents were filed on behalf of Richard Raciak, who is facing one count of second-degree murder with a firearm in the April slaying of 46-year-old Allison Sheehan, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Should a pretrial hearing on Raciak’s “stand your ground” claim take place, prosecutors would have to show “clear and convincing” evidence — a standard higher than “preponderance of the evidence” but less than “beyond a reasonable doubt” — that the defendant’s use of deadly force was unjustified.

The notification that Raciak plans to invoke the controversial state law comes just over a month after he filed a motion seeking to disqualify the judge presiding over his case, claiming she was improperly biased against him. That judge, Circuit Court Judge Patricia L. Stowbridge, swiftly denied the request less than a week later.

Richard Raciak (Orange County Sheriff

Richard Raciak (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

Raciak reasoned that the judge was biased against him because of her ruling in an Arthur Hearing — a Florida proceeding in which a defendant charged with a violent crime that typically demands they be held without bond (murder, rape, kidnapping, armed robbery, etc.) attempts to convince the court they should be granted bond. The proceeding resembles a small-scale trial but with the judge as the sole fact-finder.

Following Raciak’s July 13 Arthur Hearing, Stowbridge penned a ruling denying the request without mincing words, asserting that, based on the evidence, a self-defense claim for Raciak was “nonexistent.” For context, Raciak has claimed that he feared for his life because Sheehan, who is also the mother of his child, was attacking him with a wine opener/key when he shot her in the back multiple times.

“There is some dispute between State and Defense as to whether or not this might have been an act of self-defense but the evidence does not suggest that, the evidence suggests that Ms. Sheehan was shot in the back twice and once in the front, there is some reference to a wine opener,” Stowbridge wrote. “Neither the photographs nor did the testimony of the Detective indicate that the wine key was near the body. The allegations of self-defense appear to be, for the most part, nonexistent in this case.”

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