Florida Man Cites 'Stand Your Ground' in Iguana Killing

The judge was not convinced
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2021 8:49 AM CDT
Florida Man Cites 'Stand Your Ground' in Iguana Killing
A stunned iguana lies in the grass at Cherry Creek Park in Oakland Park, Fla., on Jan. 22, 2020, following a cold spell.   (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

A Florida man tried unsuccessfully to duck animal cruelty charges by claiming he had every right to beat an iguana to death under the state's "stand your ground" law. The law allows for the use of deadly force if a person "reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm," per CNN. In the case of PJ Nilaja Patterson, accused of brutally beating an iguana to death in Lake Worth in September, his lawyers claimed Patterson had saved the 3-foot-long iguana from getting hit by cars when a crowd caused the animal to become agitated and it bit Patterson's arm, causing a wound that required 22 staples. In what lawyers said was an act of self-defense, Patterson then "kicked the iguana as far as he could."

This was "reasonable" because the iguana "was first to engage with physical violence," the lawyers wrote in a motion to dismiss the charges. They noted Patterson believed the "wild beast" could have "injected poison" into him, "thus he rushed to incapacitate the iguana the best way he could in order to preserve its antidote." Judge Jeffrey Gillen did not agree, denying the motion Friday. Prosecutors had noted Patterson spent 30 minutes torturing the defenseless iguana, kicking it at least 17 times, without provocation, in an episode caught on video, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel. A doctor with Animal Control said the iguana died after suffering "painful and terrifying" injuries, including a lacerated liver and tongue, fractured pelvis, and internal bleeding. Patterson faces up to five years in prison if convicted. (More Florida stories.)

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