Thanks to new law, no case in shooting
A woman who killed a client with his own gun in self-defense meets terms of the Stand Your Ground Law, a prosecutor says. But she may still face prison for prostitution.
By THOMAS LAKE
Published July 22, 2006
PORT RICHEY - Frank Labiento is dead, shot through the chest with a .357-caliber handgun, and no one disputes that Jacqueline Galas pulled the trigger.
If she had done it before last October, she might have faced prison time. But new legislation known as the Stand Your Ground Law means Galas will not be prosecuted.
More than a month after her arrest on a second-degree murder charge in Labiento's shooting, the State Attorney's Office filed papers on Wednesday that effectively drop the case. Division Director Mike Halkitis said it may be the law's first test in Pasco County.
"The evidence clearly pointed," he said, "to a case of self-defense."
Galas, a 23-year-old with a known history of prostitution, said Labiento was a frequent client. She told authorities that on June 11, at his home on Christina Lane, he pointed a .357 at her and threatened to kill her.
She managed to calm him down, and he put the gun on the kitchen table. When the phone rang, he walked to pick it up.
Galas picked up the gun.
When Labiento approached her, she fired the fatal shot.
"She didn't know if he had another gun," Halkitis said, "because she always saw him with two guns."
Under the old law, someone in her situation had a duty to retreat and avoid a confrontation before resorting to deadly force. The new law, which took effect last Oct. 1 and made national headlines, removes that provision.
Another piece of evidence worked in Galas' favor. Halkitis said authorities found a note from Labiento saying he planned to kill Galas and kill himself.
But Galas, whose criminal history includes selling cocaine, possession of barbiturates and petty theft, won't go free yet.
Halkitis said the prostitution violated her probation and could put her in state prison.
Thomas Lake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 869-6245.
[Last modified July 21, 2006, 22:27:54]
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