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Jenkins v. State

District Court of Appeal of Florida
942 So.2d 910 (2006)


Melvin Jenkins (defendant), a 42-year-old roofer, lived in one of two mobile homes rented by his family. Jenkins occupied one of the trailers, while his wife, son, and teenage daughter lived in the other. The two trailers were divided by a narrow, common driveway. While in Jenkins’s trailer, his daughter told him about an argument that she recently had with a woman. At the same time, the woman’s boyfriend, Bryan Cerezo, started shouting and banging on the door of the other trailer. Jenkins exited his trailer and repeatedly asked Cerezo to leave the premises. Cerezo refused. Three bystanders heard the commotion and watched as Cerezo paced around the common driveway, loudly threatened to kill Jenkins and his family, and goaded Jenkins to fight. Jenkins remained calm and tried to neutralize the intensifying situation. In a matter of seconds, Cerezo charged Jenkins, struck him hard on the face, and took a small step back. Jenkins wobbled and removed a six-inch knife that he used for work from his belt. Cerezo then stated that he had a pistol and was going to shoot Jenkins. When Cerezo lunged at Jenkins again, Jenkins reflexively raised the knife to protect himself. The knife plunged into Cerezo’s chest, killing him. Jenkins was charged with manslaughter. At trial, the three bystanders testified that Cerezo was the aggressor during the entire encounter and that Jenkins could not have retreated beyond several feet. The prosecution argued that the common driveway did not constitute Jenkins’s premises. At the close of evidence, Jenkins moved for a judgment of acquittal. The trial court denied the motion. Jenkins was convicted, and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Altenbernd, J.)

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