Lee County judge denies Stand Your Ground motion in Fort Myers strip club case

Justin Campos, 25, of Immokalee

Photo by LCSO

Justin Campos, 25, of Immokalee

Video: Shooting at Lookers Night Club in Fort Myers

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Video: Second Surveillance video of shooting at Lookers Night Club

— Standing outside a Fort Myers strip club with a gun in his hand, Justin Campos watched as Juan Miguel Sanchez-Perdomo assaulted his friend.

Out of the corner of his eye, Campos saw Carlos Deleon-Ortiz approaching, appearing to reach into his pocket.

So Campos, 26, of Immokalee, shot both men, killing them in the early hours of a January 2011 morning.

“I believed in my heart I did what I had to do to go home,” Campos said Tuesday.

That belief, however, didn’t give Campos the right under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law to shoot the two Lehigh Acres men outside Lookers strip club, Lee County Circuit Judge Alane Laboda ruled Tuesday afternoon.

Campos would have been immune from prosecution if Laboda had granted the motion to dismiss under Stand Your Ground. Instead, he goes to trial this morning.

“We’ll try the case in the courtroom now. That’s all I can say,” said one of Campos’ lawyers, Sawyer Smith, declining further comment.

State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said prosecutors are ready for today’s trial date but declined further comment about the ruling, citing the ongoing case.

In a two-page ruling, Laboda found Campos’ testimony given during a Tuesday morning hearing “not credible” and conflicting with video evidence. Laboda also wrote that Campos’ lawyers failed to present evidence showing Campos “held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or others, when he used force that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm.”

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law allows for the use of deadly force if the defendant “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

During the hearing, Campos took the stand, the only witness called. Lawyers showed surveillance video from several angles, directing questions about the tape to Campos.

The video shows Campos, his friend Daniel Guillen and his cousin Cleofas Yzaguirre walking out of Lookers. As they were leaving, a verbal argument started between the three men and another group of three — Sanchez-Perdomo, 20, Deleon-Ortiz, 29, and Kelvin Figueroa.

Guillen got out of a truck, approached Figueroa and pistol-whipped him, surveillance video showed. The gun was sent flying, and Campos picked it up.

Sanchez-Perdomo then began assaulting Guillen, hitting his head against a wall and punching him, Campos said. Campos shot Sanchez-Perdomo in return.

Campos said he then shot Deleon-Ortiz, who was walking toward him, reaching into his pocket.

“At that moment, I don’t know what’s in his pocket,” Campos said. “I saw something black and shiny, thinking it was a gun or knife.”

Campos and Guillen fled the scene and were arrested by Collier County sheriff’s deputies two hours later in the truck.

Assistant State Attorney Andreas Gardiner said Stand Your Ground shouldn’t apply because Guillen was the aggressor.

“This is for law-abiding citizens who are lawfully in a place and happen to be confronted by a situation,” Gardiner said.

The video, which doesn’t have any sound, gives few clues as to what started the confrontation. Campos said the two shooting victims and Figueroa were cursing at Yzaguirre as he drunkenly stumbled out of the club. In his deposition, Figueroa said Guillen was the instigator, but that Campos never antagonized anyone.

Campos has been free on $500,000 bond, living on the Seminole reservation in Immokalee.

Guillen pleaded no contest in November 2011 to charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and accessory after the fact of a first-degree felony. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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