Florida Friday: Court acquits man who killed his wife’s lover because of stand your ground law, they celebrate with waffles

Today’s Florida Friday story is both compelling and incredibly Florida, but before I get to the compelling, let me first lay out what was so Florida about it: a Tampa jury acquitted a man who admitted killing his wife’s lover in his own house, and one of the first quotes is about how the acquitted man and his adulterous wife are going to celebrate by going to a waffle house:

Once Wald was released from jail, she said, he had promised her a special celebration. “Because my husband puts me first, he’s taking me to the Waffle House,” Flores said.

Damn, what is it with Floridians and waffles?

Now, the rest of this isn’t quite as funny, considering it deals with, you know, being able to legally commit murder because your state has insane laws, but here goes.

It was what amounted to a happy ending for the starring couple in a tragic and inimitably Floridian morality tale involving sex, liquor, self-defense law, erectile dysfunction and a man shot to death with his pants around his knees.


After two days of testimony in Hillsborough Circuit Court, a jury decided [retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Wald, 70] committed no crime when he fatally shot Walter Conley, 32, a man less than half his age, on March 10. Wald woke around midnight in his Brandon home and found Conley and Johnna Lynn Flores, 41, having sex on the floor in the living room. He took a .38 revolver from his bedroom and shot Conley in the stomach and head.

If you’d asked me yesterday, I would’ve told you “You know, I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed.”

Prosecutors argued that Wald, who suffered from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage when he discovered him with Flores.

“It’s a personal insult to conduct that kind of activity in a man’s home, his castle. It cuts to the quick. It’s brazen,” Assistant State Attorney Chris Moody said in closing arguments Thursday. “That kind of deep and personal insult, when you find another man having sex in your living room and you can’t, would make you want to lash out. And he did.”

Wait, that was the prosecutor? I don’t mean to Friday morning quarter back here, but shouldn’t the prosecutor spend less time justifying the defendant’s motive and more time being like, “Uh, dudes? You can’t go around shooting people in the head. It’s very un-dude-like behavior.”

Also, the defense attorney is Joe Piscopo.

However, Wald’s attorneys argued he did not recognize Conley — a resident of Lovers Lane [!!!] in Riverview and old flame of Flores — and shot him thinking he was an intruder raping his wife. They invoked the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, noting that Wald had “no duty to retreat” when facing perceived danger within his own home.

“This is a military man,” said Joe Episcopo, Wald’s Tampa-based attorney, noting that Wald had been decorated for valor in combat during the Vietnam War. He said Wald was “trained what you do with the enemy … you take your gun and kill the enemy.”

Sorry, check that, Joe E-piscopo. I like to think that’s just Joe Piscopo wearing a fake Spanish mustache.

Flores, the surviving central actor in the episode besides Wald, testified she was “black-out” drunk the night of the shooting after consuming a large quantity of cognac and remembered almost nothing.

And the only guy who can dispute her has a bullet in his head. Convenient. You wonder if his last words were “She told me you were divooorc—-”

It took jurors about two hours to reach a verdict.

Episcopo, whose melodramatic touch was on display at the trial — in his closing statement he quoted Rudyard Kipling’s poem Gunga Din staring at his client and saying, “You’re a better man than I am, Mr. Wald!” — called the outcome appropriate for a man he called a “hero.”

“That same Constitution that he defended came to his aid when he needed it,” Episcopo said. “He is the kind of American who has made this country great.” [TampaBayTimes]

The kind of American who compensates for his impotence by jealously murdering people, that kind of American? Here I thought it was scholars, rugged frontiersman, those willing to risk death for liberty, the inventors of truck nutz, etc. that made this country great. Nope, turns out it was Yosemite Sam with ED. And twelve people UNANIMOUSLY agreed with this. Jesus Christ, I’m gonna go drink a whiskey in the bath tub.

I have nothing to add here other than this:

[thanks to Justin for the tip]