SANFORD, Fla. (MCT) — The judge in the George Zimmerman case will hold a "stand your ground" hearing Wednesday in the case of an Oviedo, Fla., woman who says she shot her estranged husband while he was raping her.
Anita Smithey is charged with second-degree murder for shooting Robert Cline III.
Oviedo police found his body on her bedroom floor May 4, 2010. Smithey was screaming, crying, shaking and bleeding from a knife wound to the side, one that police say she admitted inflicting on herself after she killed the 41-year-old Cline.
Smithey, 43, and her estranged husband had been separated for three months, according to a police report, but he had come to her house that night for what had become a Monday ritual: sex on the night her children were visiting their father.
The case is more than two years old and has drawn little attention, but now that it involves the judge handling the Zimmerman case — Kenneth Lester Jr. — that will likely change.
That's because Zimmerman, too, is expected to ask Lester to throw out the murder charge against him because of Florida's now much-debated "stand your ground" law.
It allows someone to use deadly force if he or she has a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury.
That's what Zimmerman claims. He told police he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, Fla., after the teen attacked him in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., the evening of Feb. 26.
Smithey's attorney, Rick Jancha, filed notice in October — long before Trayvon was killed — that he would use a "stand your ground" defense.
Arguing for the state will be Assistant State Attorney Stacey Straub Salmons, who contends there's enough evidence to put Smithey on trial in front of a jury.
"If you're familiar with the Trayvon Martin case, you know that this is a very difficult law for prosecutors," she said. "And this is a problematic fact pattern."
Just as in the Zimmerman case, only two people know what happened, Salmons said, and one is dead.
The two cases have several other things in common:
Both defendants are charged with second-degree murder.
Both used a gun.
And in both, prosecutors were slow to decide whether to file charges. In the Zimmerman case, that took a month and a half. In the Smithey case, the delay was nearly five months.
On May 4, 2010, Smithey and Cline had gone to bed, had sex, and then she got up and showered, according to a police report. She asked him to leave, she told police, but he grabbed her, pulled her back into bed, got on top of her and accused her of sleeping with someone else.
He then placed what she believed to be a knife at her throat, she told police.
He turned away, she said, allowing her to pull a .38-caliber revolver from a nightstand and place it under her pillow.
When he turned back, he began having rough sex, she said. She told him he was hurting her and to stop, but he didn't, according to the police report. She then pointed the pistol at his midsection.
He leaned forward, she said, and the gun went off. Still, he didn't get off, she told police, so she pulled the trigger, and the gun fired again. This time, he fell to the floor.
Cline was shot twice, once in the chest straight on and a second time by a bullet that entered through his right shoulder, traveled across his chest and pierced his aorta.
In the Smithey case, Salmons may be in a very awkward position for a prosecutor: asking a judge to rule that rape is not great bodily harm — a justification for using deadly force under the state's "stand your ground" law.
In court paperwork, Jancha argues that Smithey pulled the trigger only after Cline raped her, threatened her and cut her with a knife. She feared, he wrote, that if she did not use deadly force, she would face more of the same, including possible death.
Smithey also is charged with presenting false evidence. That stems from her claim that Cline stabbed her, when, according to a police report, she admitted doing that to herself after she shot him.
It's not clear how Jancha plans to defend her on that charge. He did not return a phone call Tuesday.