MILTON — A fatal Oct. 21 shooting on Bent Tree Road was justifiable under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, according to the state attorney’s office.
Around 12:30 a.m. that October day, Michael Patterson was asleep on the couch at his Milton home when banging and screaming on the front porch awakened him. Patterson's elderly parents and 16-year-old son were also asleep in the home. Patterson went to the door and asked what the man wanted but could not understand what he was saying. The intruder began shaking the doorknob.
The noise awakened Patterson's mother; as she dialed 9-1-1 to report the disturbance, Michael Patterson retrieved a 30-30 rifle from his brother's bedroom, exited from the back sliding glass door and walked around the north side of the house to the structure’s front. When he got to the front yard, Patterson saw an unrecognizable man holding a baseball bat attempting to enter the Pattersons' home. The home’s front door appeared to be ajar.
Fearing for his family’s safety, Patterson ordered the intruder to stop as he entered the doorway. When Patterson yelled, the man turned in his direction, raised the bat and began to walk toward Patterson, who was about 30 feet from the front door. Michael Patterson fired one shot from the 30-30, striking the man in the left shoulder and causing him to fall back against the front door across the threshold.
Patterson went into the home and put the rifle on the dining-room table. His brother, Jeffery Booth, arrived just after the shooting; the two men tried to stop the bleeding and performed CPR until deputies got to the scene.
Around 12:39 a.m., Santa Rosa County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Bent Tree Road in response to a suspicious-person complaint. As deputies arrived, they found a male lying inside the open front door bleeding from a gunshot wound to the chest. An aluminum baseball bat and metal pipe were located near the shooting victim. The bat’s knob had been broken off and was lying on the porch.
Deputies began lifesaving efforts until paramedics arrived. The shooting victim — later identified as Marcus Indigo Mulinix, 39 — was placed in the ambulance where he died. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. The bullet entered the left upper chest of Mulinix near his clavicle and exited his right upper back.
The issue was whether Michael Patterson was justified in his use of deadly force.
"A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony," Florida Statute states.
Evidence suggested Mulinix went to Patterson’s home intending to engage in violence; he was armed with an aluminum baseball bat and a metal pipe. Witnesses saw Mulinix with these weapons in his possession approximately 30 minutes before the shooting and indicated that he appeared paranoid and extremely agitated. Mulinix used enough force with the bat that the knob of the bat had broken off and was lying on the porch near the entryway. The metal pipe was located in the yard.
Witness accounts and corroborating evidence show that Michael Patterson and his mother, Mary, heard Mulinix yelling and attempting to enter the Pattersons' home. Mulinix ignored Michael Patterson's warning to go away and continued his efforts to enter the house.
The testimonial and physical evidence established that Mulinix was committing an armed burglary of a dwelling when he was shot. The evidence also established that Mulinix committed an aggravated assault, a forcible felony. Michael Patterson stated that when he approached Mulinix, who was standing at the front door, Mulinix turned and started towards him with the bat raised. At this point, Michael Patterson had a reasonable fear for his own safety as well as the safety of his parents and son within the home.
"Mulinix was armed with a deadly weapon which he displayed in a manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm," James E. Parker, assistant state attorney, wrote. "His actions created a well-founded fear in Michael Patterson that violence was about to take place and Mulinix had the apparent ability to carry it out.
"Under the circumstances, Patterson had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground. He had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or his family within the home."