Justin Ray Boersma: Will the Starbucks shooter’s self-defense claim get him off?

Florida teen shot and killed Samuel Joseph Rossetti after road rage incident in coffee chain drive-thru.

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Justin Boersma
Samuel Joseph Rossetti (Left) and Justin Ray Boersma
(Facebook/Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

Last Wednesday, two fathers decided to make a stop to pick up a lunchtime coffee.

Little did they know that a senseless tragedy awaited them.

Within minutes, one of the two men – who did not know each other – would be dead, shot to death in the Starbucks drive-thru. The other would be facing a first degree murder charge in the killing.

But what really happened during their fateful encounter? And does the shooter, 19-year-old Justin Ray Boersma, have a realistic case for self-defense?

The simple facts as we know them are this.

Boersma was taking his girlfriend and their baby to the drive-thru when police allege he cut in front of another driver, Samuel Joseph Rossetti.

Rossetti, 31, is said to have got out of his vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado, and then to have begun pounding on the window of Boersma’s car.

In fact, the older man was so enraged by the teen’s driving that he ripped the door handle off the car, a Nissan Versa, as he was trying to get inside.

Then, as Rossetti was going back to his vehicle, Boersma allegedly proceeded to fire three shots, killing Rossetti.

The incident happened at a Starbucks in Lake Worth Beach, Florida around noon last Wednesday afternoon.

Boersma told detectives later that his girlfriend and infant child were in his car, as well as another friend. Boersma’s girlfriend was screaming ‘We have a baby in the car’ during the alleged attack, he added.

Boersma told detectives that he was worried about his family’s safety and believed Rossetti could be retrieving a weapon. 

As he was driving away, witnesses saw Boersma allegedly hit another car with his vehicle. He would later say that he fled so he could call a lawyer before surrendering.

The arrest report reveals Boersma did not see Rossetti with a weapon, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Deputies and a citizen with medical training administered CPR on Rossetti until help could arrive.

Boersma is currently being held without bond and faces the murder charge. Police sources have indicated, however, that he will rely on a self-defense argument when his case comes to court.

So the question remains, could Boersma have a case, given what we know so far?

Patrick McKamey, a former homicide prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney, says the teen may have a chance of pulling off such a defense.

“I think this is a case that was actually built for Stand Your Ground law,” McKamey told local station WPEC.

“It looks like a great case.”

McKamey said that the fact Boersma had an infant and his girlfriend in the car, and the fact that the other man ripped off his car door handle, could aid his argument.

“It’s a 100 percent a forcible felony,” McKamey said of the door handle.

“The defense can reasonably argue, it’s unreasonable to think that if he’s not in fear for his life or the life of those in the vehicle, why would somebody with an infant in the car go out and start shooting,” McKamey said.

Of course, there is a long way to go before Boersma even gets his day in court. But he certainly seems to have a chance of leaving a free man.

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