Jury finds latest ‘Stand Your Ground’ killer guilty of manslaughter in Fla. parking lot shooting

Scales of Justice / YouTube MICHAEL DREJKA TRIAL VERDICT 1566651133.jpg...
Scales of Justice / YouTube

His name was Markeis McGlockton, and he would have been a father of four if Michael Drejka hadn’t shot him last July, in front of his family—including his pregnant girlfriend and five-year-old son—over a handicapped parking spot in a Clearwater, Fla. convenience store. On Friday, his killer met justice, after a Pinellas County jury found Drejka guilty of manslaughter, after one evening spent in deliberation.

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His name was Markeis McGlockton. He was 28 years old.

For almost a month, Drejka avoided arrest by invoking the Gunshine State’s infamous Stand Your Ground law, which, thanks to a positively bonkers 2017 revision, requires that before someone can even be arrested, authorities must prove the self-defense-on-steroids statute doesn’t apply. Previously, defense attorneys had to prove it did.

Despite endless headlines indicating otherwise, Drejka, now 48, and his legal team actually opted not to invoke the Stand Your Ground defense in June, opting for a jury trial instead (a judge would have made the decision in an SYG defense). The trial, which has garnered nationwide attention, has moved with lightning speed. Jury selection began on Monday, ended on Tuesday, and deliberations began late Friday afternoon, after less than three full days of testimony and attorney statements.

Soon after deliberations began, with media swarming the courthouse, an alternate juror, Keith Booe, shared his thoughts on the case.

Remarkably, it took the jury over six hours to come to the same conclusion: Drejka was guilty.

Surveillance video paints a pretty clear picture of what happened, as I wrote two days after the July 19, 2018 shooting.

Britany Jacobs had just gotten off work, so she stayed in the car with the babies on Thursday afternoon, while her boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, took their young son into a Clearwater, Florida, convenience store. While Jacobs was waiting for them to buy snacks and drinks, an SUV entered the lot and stopped in a non-spot, perpendicular to Jacobs’ car.

Surveillance video shows Michael Drejka, 47, getting out of the SUV. He immediately checks the front and back of Jacobs’ car before accosting her for illegally parking in a handicapped spot. As Drejka continues to rant, customers come and go without paying much attention to the altercation, except for one looky-loo in a blue shirt, who pauses before entering the store, but doesn’t intervene.

Footage then shows Jacobs, 25, getting out of her car—just as McGlockton leaves the store, with Blue Shirt on his heels. Upon seeing a stranger arguing with the mother of his three children, McGlockton, 28, shoves Drejka to the ground and away from Jacobs, and Blue Shirt moves as though to break things up. Without a moment of hesitation, Drejka pulls out a gun; Blue Shirt sees it and hurries away. Just a beat behind him, McGlockton also sees the gun and starts to back away, but Drejka pulls the trigger immediately. McGlockton, hit in the chest, flees into the store, and Jacobs soon follows. Drejka sits for a few moments before walking to his SUV.

As previously mentioned, Jacobs was pregnant with her and McGlockton’s fourth child, who was born in January. Drejka has a documented history of road rage and racism, as well as a pesky habit of policing that same convenience store parking lot.

We also know that “Blue Shirt,” whose real name is Robert Castelli, was the one who notified McGlockton (and everyone else in the store) that there was a conflict happening in the parking lot, which immediately preceded the fatal altercation.

The trial revealed few new facts for anyone who’s followed the case. McGlockton had MDMA in his system—the prosecutor’s expert referred to it as “the love drug,” while the defense’s doctor called it the “thug drug.” The entirety of Drejka’s nearly one-hour police interview, held about five hours after the shooting, was played for the public for the first time. The video revealed a few key facts: Drejka admitted to regularly practicing shooting from a sitting position, he used jargon that made him seem like a wannabe cop, and he reiterated that messing with cars parked in handicapped spots is something of a habit for him.

Drejka told the detectives he has a “pet peeve” about illegal parking in handicapped spots, though he doesn’t use one, so he often walks around such cars looking for handicapped stickers and placards, sometimes taking photographs.

He said he often sees people illegally parked in the handicapped spot at that convenience store, but the owner doesn’t do anything about it. He said he doesn’t call the police because the person would be gone before officers arrive.

Isn’t that the point though? To get people to leave the handicapped spots? Hmm. Notably, Drejka opted not to testify in his own defense.

While the state presented Drejka as a “parking lot vigilante,” the defense pinned the blame on McGlockton: It was the MDMA that made him aggressive. “There are consequences” to pushing people. They challenged the non-HD quality of the surveillance video that indicated McGlockton’s retreat. They claimed that Jacobs, who, again, was pregnant and had her two young children with her when Drejka approached her vehicle, couldn’t have actually felt that threatened, while simultaneously insisting that Drejka’s fear was valid. This, despite Caselli, aka “Blue Shirt,” viewing the altercation as something worth reporting to those inside the store.

Then the defense went even lower.

The jury, which was comprised of all white men except for one Asian American and one white woman, sided with the prosecution, stopping their deliberations only for dinner and for clarification on their instructions. Now, Drejka will spend as many as 30 years in prison, instead of playing parking lot cop. Sentencing is expected in October, and the defense has already vowed to appeal.

The verdict changes little for the family of the dead man named Markeis McGlockton, of course. Regardless of whether justice was served, Britany Jacobs still lost her high school sweetheart, and still has to raise four children without their father—one of whom saw his daddy shot down by a man who thought he had every right to do so.

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That should have happened for Trayvon Martin!