NMB landlord gets life for shooting tenant in rent dispute

A landlord who fatally shot his tenant during a rent dispute claimed self-defense but his defense was rejected as he is sentenced to life in prison.

With his claim of self-defense already rejected by a jury — and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law deemed irrelevant by a judge — Julian Gonzalez was well-assured of being sentenced to a lengthy jail sentence on Thursday. The landlord of a North Miami Beach rental home had two years earlier fatally shot a tenant in a dispute over past due rent. That action led to a second-degree murder conviction, and a minimum mandatory prison term of 25 years.

The only question before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom was whether to levy the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Bloom ultimately decided to do exactly that — choosing a punishment that the family of Gonzalez’s victim, 25-year-old Vladimir Santos, had fervently pleaded for.

“My one and only son,” Santos’ mother, Connie Garcia, told the judge. “He had a great personality, a great sense of humor, always had a smile on his face.”

Florida’s highly controversial Stand Your Ground law — which is at the center of the Sanford shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — was not applied in this case for two key reasons: Gonzalez, despite being a landlord, did not have a legal entitlement to be at his tenant’s property, and perhaps more importantly, there was no credible evidence that Gonzalez was ever in any danger.

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