FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The man accused of shooting and killed an off-duty U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent in 2008 took the stand Monday during his "Stand Your Ground" hearing.
James Wonder, 69, took the stand in his own defense. According to police, Wonder shot and killed Donald Pettit, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, in August of 2008.
"'What is your problem slick? Who the f*** do you think you are?'" said Wonder.
Wonder testified those were the first words he heard when Petit got out of his car at the post office in Pembroke Pines.
Pettit, who was off-duty at the time, followed Wonder into the parking lot that morning in August 2008, following a road rage incident, and according to Wonder, charged towards him like a football player preparing to make a tackle.
"I thought he was going to beat the s*** out of me and kill me," said Wonder.
Wonder is asking judge Bernard Bober to dismiss the manslaughter charge he faces for killing Pettit under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. The dialysis patient claims he shot Petit in self-defense.
Wonder testified that Petit never identified himself as a federal agent and was five feet away when Wonder pulled out a gun.
"I was backing up and as he got so close to me, I drew that .40 caliber that I had and I was trying to get the safety off and fired off a round," said Wonder.
"You would agree that that sounds a tad angry, no Mr. Wonder?" asked a prosecutor during cross examination.
Prosecutors described Wonder as a hot head who was despondent over his health and wasn't thinking reasonably when he pulled the trigger. Prosecutors questioned why Wonder left the post office after the shooting, hid his car in his garage, and never called police.
"When they said he was a law enforcement officer, I figured they were looking to gun somebody down," said Wonder. "There would be no answer that would make them happy."
A judge will decide if Wonder will face a jury on manslaughter charges. The charge of manslaughter with a deadly weapon carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
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