Orpheum brawl death becomes stand your ground case

- The Orpheum nightclub in Ybor City was jammed packed with college students when, somewhere in this sea of young people, an argument between Randolph Graham and Elkino Watson led to a brawl outside the club.

Tampa police say Graham brought a knife to the fight and stabbed Watson. The former USF Football player was killed.

But Graham's attorneys say Watson was the aggressor, and Graham was defending himself.

At a stand your ground hearing Tuesday, Graham's attorneys began painting that picture.

Graham's friend, Justin Stroud was there that night. He says it all started with a disagreement between himself and Diamond Hall, Watson's girlfriend.

"Once I hit her back, there was a group of guys that pulled us apart and said, 'Chill out,'" explained Stroud.

But it wasn't over. He says Diamond pointed him out to Watson and suddenly, Stroud says he was being jumped by a group of his friends.

"I was bent down. There was four to five or three to five people surrounding me, punching and kicking me," said Stroud.

Later a former teammate of Watson's said the USF football team was like a band of brothers. If one was in trouble, the team jumped in to help.

But Elkanah Dillon never did and he got grief for it.

"Someone did give me a hard time, yes," said Dillon.

But now it's up to prosecutors to prove Randolph Graham was not acting in self-defense. That's because a few months ago lawmakers tweaked the law and shifted the burden from the shooter to the prosecutor.

And making their task even tougher, the state can't force the shooter to testify.

If the judge agrees, Graham was standing his ground and his use of deadly force was justified, then the defendant walks away as a free man.

If the judge sides with the state, Graham goes to trial and a jury decides.

A decision by the judge could come anytime. 

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