Victim: Joseph Martell (killed)
The accused: Max Wesley Horn Jr.


Joseph Martell

White male

Age at time: 34

Weapon: unarmed


Max Wesley Horn Jr.

White male

Age at time: 46

Weapon: gun


Defendant photo: Max Wesley Horn demonstrates how he raised his gun and shot Joseph Martell in 2008 during his second-degree murder trial in 2010. Times file photo

Case type:
Fight at bar/party




Case year:

Location details: Hot Shotz Bar in New Port Richey, Pasco County, on March 29, 2008

What happened: Max Wesley Horn Jr., 46, shot and killed Joseph Martell, 34, after an argument outside a bar during the annual Chasco Fiesta in New Port Richey. Martell had exchanged words with friends of Horn's during the day, and they encountered each other later that night when Martell emerged from Hot Shotz and, according to Horn, threatened his sister-in-law. Horn lifted his shirt to show a gun in his waistband and said he would shoot Martell, who was dragged away to another bar. He returned shortly. Witnesses gave differering accounts of what happened next. Some say Martell punched Horn. Others didn't see a punch. Horn fired at Martell six times until the gun jammed.

The outcome: Horn was charged with second-degree murder. He claimed immunity under the stand your ground statute, but a judge denied that claim. He went to trial and was acquitted.

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/

Did the victim initiate the confrontation?


Was the victim armed?


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


Did the defendant pursue the victim?


Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict?


Was the defendant on his or her property?


Did someone witness the attack?


Was there physical evidence?


Source: Pasco Circuit Court, Jan. 27, 2009. Link to original source

Source: Pasco County Clerk of Court, March 30, 2008.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, Aug. 27, 2009. Link to original source

Source: Tampa Tribune, Aug. 30, 2009.

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Case last updated: Aug. 10, 2013