Widow struggles with playground shooting case

October 27th, 2010 by Staff

VALRICO – At just 41 years old, David James had retired from the Air Force. He had a home in a nice neighborhood and a beautiful family. One Sunday, he took his 8-year-old daughter Danielle to the park to play basketball — and that’s where it all ended.

“I never dreamed this could happen,” offered Kanina James, David’s widow. “He went to play basketball with my daughter, and nobody thinks he’s going to wind up dead.”

In her first one-on-one interview, Kanina says she’s frustrated. She wonders why the man accused in David’s killing walks free.

Deputies arrested Trevor Dooley, a Hillsborough County school bus driver. They say he brought a gun to the park and was angry over kids on skateboards. James defended the kids; there was an argument, then a fatal gunshot.

Dooley was charged with manslaughter and released on bond.

“I’m so confused on why they have him on manslaughter instead of murder,” Kanina said, wiping away a tear. “Nobody takes a gun to a park and plans on playing with it. They plan to kill somebody, and that’s what he did.”

A judge ordered Dooley not to return to his home near the park. There was no answer at his door when FOX 13 stopped by.

Dooley had a concealed weapons permit and he had the right to carry a gun from his house across the street to the park. And under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, he had the right to use that gun if he felt he was at risk of great bodily harm.

Under Stand Your Ground, Dooley’s lawyers may argue, that in the seconds before the shot, James was the aggressor, going after the gun.

Kanina doesn’t believe it.

“Because he was a very gentle person,” she explained. “He wasn’t confrontational, he never fought with anybody.”

And, she says, he was in love with his daughter.

Danielle saw it all happen. As her father lay dying in the park, Danielle used his phone to call her mom with the terrible news.

“He was very close with my daughter,” Kanina added. “And now she has to live without him.”

Friends and neighbors have set up the Danielle Kerrigan James fund at Bank of America. They’re raising money for college and for counseling.

Trevor Dooley is scheduled to appear in court in early December for a procedural hearing. He’s been suspended from his job as a school bus driver.

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