Victims: Joseph Hall (killed), Joey Ruinato
The accused: Brandon Ward

Joseph_Hall

Joseph Hall

White male

Age at time: 19

Weapon: unarmed

Joey_Ruinato

Joey Ruinato

White male

Age at time: 19

Weapon: unarmed

 
Ward

Brandon Ward

White male

Age at time: 20

Weapon: knife

knife

Defendant photo: Florida Department of Corrections

Case type:
Fight at bar/party

Location:
Other Private Property

Initiator:
Unclear

Witnesses:
Yes

Case year:
2006

Location details: Outside home of defendant's girlfriend in Milton, Santa Rosa County, on June 25, 2006

What happened: Brandon Michael Ward, a U.S. Marine, stabbed two teens he said attacked him first after an altercation at a party, killing one. The surviving stabbing victim said they were just trying to protect a 16-year-old girl from a man they thought was abusing her. They were escorting Ward's girlfriend home from the party when Ward attacked them, according to surviving victim Joseph Ruinato. During the investigation, one witness gave conflicting testimony. She said the two men Ward stabbed had first chased him. She later changed her testimony, saying Ward hid in the bushes, then ambushed the two men.

The outcome: Ward's attorney used a "stand your ground" defense but his client was convicted of seconnd-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison. The case was overturned on appeal. Ward was convicted in his second trial, on Oct. 15, 2010, of manslaughter and second-degree attempted murder and sentenced to life.

Investigating agency: Santa Rosa County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Jury

Trayvon Martin’s death became controversial because circumstances leading up to the shooting cast doubt on who was to blame. The Tampa Bay Times reviewed other “stand your ground” cases for similar circumstances. The Times relied on available information, some of which may not tell the whole story. When the situation was unclear, that was noted.

Yes No Unclear/
disputed

Did the victim initiate the confrontation?

Check

Was the victim armed?

Check

Was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation?

Check

Did the defendant pursue the victim?

Check

Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict?

Check

Was the defendant on his or her property?

Check

Did someone witness the attack?

Check

Was there physical evidence?

Check

Source: Pensacola News Journal, May 16, 2007.

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Case last updated: Aug. 10, 2013