CLEARWATER, Fla. — A jury trial has been set for the deadly shooting that started out as a controversial stand your ground case.
The trial for Michael Drejka is set for August 19, 2019.
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Drejka is charged with manslaughter for the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton. The July shooting happened outside of a Clearwater convenience store.
The confrontation was caught on camera, where McGlockton pushed Drejka to the ground and Drejka fired his gun in what he calls self-defense.
The altercation stemmed from an argument about a handicap parking spot outside of the Circle A Food Store.
Drejka’s defense attorneys, John Trevena and Bryant Camareno, made it very clear that they plan to defend their client and expose the victim’s past.
After a pretrial hearing Friday, Trevena said McGlockton was the violent one in this case.
“To characterize him in any way as a saint or a victim is a farce. It’s time for the truth to come out and the truth is that Mr. Drejka acted totally in self-defense and in complete compliance with stand your ground,” Trevena said.
He also wanted to emphasize McGlockton’s criminal history and the ecstasy found in his system at the time of his death.
“The reality of the situation is that Mr. McGlockton has a lengthy criminal history of violence, and at the time of this incident he was actually under the influence of a substantial amount of MDMA methamphetamine at the time,” Trevena said.
McGlockton’s family stood outside of the courtroom as Trevena talked to reporters about what he calls the truth and the victim’s character.
McGlockton’s family attorney, Michelle Rayner, said this is victim-shaming and an effort to hurt the case.
“The facts speak for themselves. The video speaks for itself. It is a last-ditch effort by the defense to taint the jury pool in this case,” Rayner said. “I’m having to respond to something that I don’t believe needs a response. There’s a video in this case. There’s a clear video where Michael Drejka shoots Markies McGlockton as he is retreating. Period.”
She said the defense’s portrayal of McGlockton’s criminal history is hurtful and isn’t accurate or relevant. She also defended the drugs found in his system at the time of his death.
“I don’t think it’s relevant,” Rayner said. “First off Ecstasy is a love drug, everyone knows it’s not a violent drug and if you do enough criminal cases you know that and secondly, once again, there is a video. I don’t know how much more clear I can make it, and that same report shows that Markeis McGlockton was at maximum retreat.”
Drejka’s attorneys said they don’t know if they will pursue a stand your ground defense.
During the pretrial hearing Friday, prosecutors said there are a hundred witnesses in this case.
Drejka’s attorneys were worried that long list was contributing to Drejka not being able to move freely throughout the county while he’s out on bond, wearing an ankle monitor.
The defense said Drejka has had trouble going to certain locations, including his voting precinct that he was told after the fact he couldn’t be near. A hearing in that matter is set for January 11.
Drejka’s next pretrial hearing is set for February 22.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Michele Rayner on Friday afternoon said Drejka was "properly" facing the manslaughter charge.
Their complete statement read:
"The truth about the needless death of Markeis McGlockton is right there in the surveillance video: Mr. McGlockton was shot dead while standing up to, and then stepping back from, a troublemaker and instigator. The video shows all you need to know, and as a result, Michael Drejka is properly facing a charge of manslaughter.
"We have seen this shameful scenario play out time and again, where lawyers try to muddy the crystal-clear truth by attacking the character of an unarmed black man who was the victim of a gun crime. When the basic facts are not on your side, that side will resort to these kinds of tactics.
"We have faith that a jury will not be fooled by this transparent attempt to change the narrative and victim shame, and that in the end justice will be served."