Share and Follow
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.
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.”
The evidence made publicly available thus far appears to bolster Stowbridge’s opinion.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at about 12:39 a.m. on April 16 responded to a home located in the 2800 block of Smithfield Drive, according to the arrest affidavit.
Upon arriving at the scene, first responders said they found an adult female — later identified as Sheehan — who was in the master bedroom of the residence and had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. She was immediately transported to Osceola Regional Hospital for treatment, but unfortunately succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead.
Raciak was located on the scene and transported to Hunter’s Creek Emergency Room for treatment after he complained of being severely dehydrated.
Investigators made contact with Raciak’s father, who had been at the couple’s home earlier in the day to celebrate the birthday of Raciak and Sheehan’s son. He left the home at approximately 3:30 p.m., but that evening at around 10:30 p.m., Raciak’s father said he began receiving text messages from his son regarding a violent encounter between Raciak and Sheehan, police said.
“Allison was attacking me I had to fire shots,” a message from Raciak to his father read, according to a probable cause affidavit. “I had to put her down [in] Self defense. Only choice I had. Waiting on cops.”
In other messages, Raciak allegedly asked his father and brother to get cash from his safe and sent them a photo of Sheehan’s dead body.
After being released from the hospital, detectives interviewed Raciak, who said that he and Sheehan had been together for about eight years. He claimed that during their son’s birthday party, Sheehan consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. Per Raciak, they got into an argument later that evening and Sheehan attacked him, attempting to “claw” his eyes out.
Raciak told investigators that Sheehan then pushed him into a dresser, knocking him to the ground. Raciak said he then went to the bedside table and removed his .40 caliber handgun from a biometric safe as they kept arguing.
“He said they continued to argue and she kept ‘coming at him.’ He said he became ‘pissed’ and wanted to ‘put her down’ and had initially intended to ‘shoot her in the leg so that she would chill,’” the affidavit states. “Richard picked up his firearm and admitted that he shot four [Sheehan] four times. Richard surmised that he ‘aimed high’ and shot her in the ‘butt.’ He was able to recall that he shot her once in the shoulder area and the remainder in the buttocks.”
Raciak went on to admit that Sheehan was facing away from him and walking in the opposite direction when he initially fired at her.
Raciak currently has a status hearing scheduled for March 28, 2024.