Marion Gavins Jr., the 18-year-old Palm Coast resident who shot and killed Flagler Palm Coast High School senior Curtis Gray on April 13, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Monday. The plea suggests that his lawyers, who have few options based on evidence made public so far, may be preparing a stand-you-ground defense.
Gavins recorded a brief and often incoherent selfie-video as his mother was driving him to the sheriff’s Palm Coast precinct to turn himself in on April 14. Gavins in the video appears to confess to shooting Gray, but also blames Gray for “reaching first.” Gavins was in the backseat of an SUV when Gray was approaching it and Gavins pulled out a 9mm handgun, firing at Gray once. Gavins would later tell sheriff’s deputies that he thought Gray was reaching for a gun as he approached the car. No gun was recovered at the scene near Gray. (See the Gavins video here.)
The two men were each with their set of friends late the night of April 13 at the Blaze Smoke Shop in the small strip mall next to a Circle K and gas station, at the intersection of Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway. Gray became aware that Gavins was in the shop after briefly stepping in there, then exiting. Gray spoke to his own friends, then walked toward the SUV Gavins had returned to after going to the smoke shop, according to sheriff’s reports.
The driver of the SUV Gavins was riding in was already backing out of the parking spot at the strip mall and was preparing to drive on when Gavins told him to stop the car as Gray was approaching it. In a stand your ground defense, the defendant has no obligation to retreat, whether at home, at the office or in a vehicle, but has to reasonably believe that imminent danger–bodily harm or death–exists.
The context of the two men’s interactions before the shooting, that night or in days prior, remains murky.
Gavins was a few weeks short of his 18th birthday when a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge.
In late May, Gavins’s defense attorney filed a motion to have Gavins mentally evaluated, and to allow for up to $5,000 to be spent for those services.
Gavins is represented by a public defender. He’s been assigned five different attorneys, all but the last of whom had a conflict of interest and so could not represent him. He is now represented by Andux Gonzalo, who was appointed from the Seventh Circuit Indigent Services Attorney Registry. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton, who has won a string of high-profile murder and other convictions in recent years, including that of Bruce Haughton last month, James Colley last November, and Clarence Murphy and Dorothy Singer in 2018, and Anna Pehota in 2016.
Gavins did not address the court at the brief hearing Monday, other than to enter his not-guilty plea through his attorney.
In a stand your ground case, the defense may choose to have a hearing before trial to argue that the charge should be dismissed. But at such hearings the defendant may be compelled to testify, giving the prosecution the opportunity to cross-examine him on the record.
Gavins’s next pre-trial hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Hope that Justice will be served for this malcontent never do well. Justice for the needless murder of victim.
Nobody’s buying this kid’s BS after seeing him and his friends’ social media pages. These kids are a bunch of losers.
Those eyes look like a shark’s eyes–There is no hint of a conscience there. What a waste of two young lives!
OIF/ OEF Vet says
Last time I heard about this scum… he said he would “be a man” and “nobody gonna take my charges but me.” So I guess we can add coward to his label list?
Either way… he can do/ say what he likes… it’s his lawyer’s job. Good for him.
He will be someone’s girlfriend in prison 5 years from now and no one will care about him.
Throw him in jail, forget he ever existed and bury him in the backyard.
He is irrelevant to society or humanity.
Fellow Resident says
I understand the anger over all of this but he’s still a human, if you’re making comments like “forget he ever existed and bury him in the backyard” then you obviously have no reason and might as well be in the same position as him. No one knows what really happened except the people that were actually there. If he actually did pull his weapon in self defense and this becomes the final verdict then I’m sure you all will feel really stupid. We’re all people here and we all have the right to use self defense; just because this young mans outward appearance makes you believe he just did it for no reason doesn’t mean there isn’t a person with a brain behind that appearance that could have potentially made a split second decision to protect his own life. Stop terrorizing him just because he’s young and African American. I’d bet if this was some 45 year old white man that goes to the local church, everyone would be defending him. You people love to comment trash talk anonymously but would probably be the ones to call the police if you saw a young man like him just hanging out at the park. This isn’t a clear cut case and you all should be ashamed of how you’re talking. Stop acting like entitled assholes.
At the time this killing occurred gavins was 17 years old, while I am not a lawyer,it seems to me that it would have been illegal for gavins to own a handgun,isnt that what the multitude of gun laws say? I would think that this illegal possesion of a handgun would preclude using the stand your ground defense. I remember when Bernard Goetz shot four criminals who had screwdrivers and other makeshift weapons and actually WERE attacking Goetz,that Goetz was jailed for illegal possession of a handgun. Either way I hope that gavins goes to jail for a long time, the kid he killed was a good kid and didnt deserve to be killed by a punk.
He should be sentenced to death. He’s no good and never will be. Anything less will be a drain on the tax payers.
Leo is a good boy with much potential.
Born and Raised Here says
Wasn’t he 17, when he committed this crime ? Shouldn’t he have an parent or guardian making decisions for him.
Doc Marten says
Content. Of. Character.