Child terrified to testify near man accused of killing father | Crime
Tampa, Florida - It's a rare sight to see a child take the witness stand in court.
Testimony in a court case is usually reserved for adults. It can often be frightening for a child with the formality of court, the imposing stature of a judge and the bailiffs guarding the room, monitoring the coming and going of all who enter.
But children are often key witnesses.
On Thursday at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, a little girl bravely walked to the witness stand, sat down and told her story of watching her father die before her very eyes in November 2010.
Danielle James saw her father as her hero.
After all, David, or D.J. as he was known among family and friends, was an Air Force veteran and was a strong man. Danielle adored her father. The two posed for countless pictures in the short life shared with her father.
One of their favorite things to do was play outside. In fact, both father and daughter were on a neighborhood court in Valrico one day when Danielle's dad began defending a skateboarder nearby.
A bus driver named Trevor Dooley lived across the street and began yelling at the young man, saying he couldn't skate on the neighborhood basketball court.
D.J. told him, "There's no sign saying he can't."
The fight between the two men escalated quickly, and deputies say Dooley went back into his home and got a gun. The men continued yelling and fell to the ground, then a gunshot went off as they were tussling on the ground.
D.J. died and Danielle saw the whole thing.
But did Trevor Dooley have a right to defend himself? He says he was being attacked and held down that day. He wants to invoke the Stand Your Ground law for his defense in this case, since he claims he feared for his life.
A judge will now consider that request after a hearing in court where Danielle told her side of the story, what she saw and what she heard.
She could not, however, be in the same room with Dooley. She says she is terrified of him and could not look at him.
The little girl told attorneys, "I heard the gunshot go off. [My dad] said, 'Call the ambulance, I've been shot.'"
Danielle was shy at times and admitted that she didn't like to talk about that fateful day. The chid did admit that her father was, in fact, on top of Dooley holding him down when they fell to the ground.
It is unclear how that statement could possibly help Dooley in his case for Stand Your Ground, since the child admitted her father was on top of Dooley and wouldn't let him go.
Dooley watched the proceedings from a separate courtroom.
The judge will release her decision in the upcoming weeks.