By now, the scene is familiar: Two men who don't know each other get into an altercation -- one black, one Hispanic. One has a handgun and shoots the other dead.
The victim is unarmed. The shooter claims self-defense and walks free. For more than a month, the victim's family waits to see whether authorities will file charges against the shooter.
Except this tragedy did not play out among the hedges of a Sanford, Fla., apartment complex, where a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed an unarmed black teen on Feb. 26. It occurred under the fluorescent lights of a Taco Bell parking lot in Phoenix on April 3, when a black driver and a Hispanic pedestrian got into a shouting match and the driver shot the pedestrian dead.
And unlike the Trayvon Martin case, in which civil rights leaders pounded their pulpits and thousands protested and signed petitions calling for an arrest, the death of Daniel Adkins Jr. has gotten little national attention.
As in the Martin case in Florida, in which police did not arrest George Zimmerman for 45 days, a stand-your-ground law is influencing action in the Phoenix shooting. Since Trayvon's death, such laws -- and how they are applied by police and prosecutors -- are under scrutiny.
At least 21 states have some variation of the law that says a person does not have to retreat in the face of a threat and can use deadly force if fearing danger of death or serious harm.
"I look at the Trayvon Martin case, and what happened to my son is almost the same thing," Daniel Adkins says of his only son's death. "I want justice. Why haven't they arrested him?"
Most stand-your-ground laws grant a person who uses deadly force the presumption that he acted reasonably unless there is evidence to the contrary.
If there are no witnesses and the victim is dead, or if the evidence is conflicting, the chances are greater that someone can "get away with murder," Savannah Law School professor Elizabeth Megale says. "It's ironic. If someone dies, the other person is less likely to get arrested."
John Roman, a fellow with the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, analyzed homicides in the U.S. from 2005 to 2009. He found that homicides are twice as likely to be ruled justifiable in stand-your-ground states.
The presumption that a person acted reasonably is appropriate, says Charles Heller, co-founder of Arizona Citizens Defense League, which advocates for gun rights.
"People have a right to defend themselves," he says. "It stops avaricious prosecutors from overdoing their jobs."
In Phoenix, family members of Daniel Adkins Jr. say they understand the frustration the Martin family felt when their son's killer was free.
"Why, with the police knowing what he did, is he still free? What are they waiting for?" Adkins' mother, Antonia, 63, asks in Spanish. "The law is the law, but it's an injustice."
After protests nationwide, Zimmerman was arrested April 11 and charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors say he racially profiled Trayvon. Zimmerman pleaded not guilty, saying he shot in self-defense.
Adkins' parents say they don't think their son's shooting was racially motivated.
Daniel Adkins Jr., 29, was mentally disabled and lived with his parents. He was on his usual evening walk with their yellow Labrador, Lady.
About a mile from home, he walked in front of a silver Pontiac Grand Am in the Taco Bell parking lot, according to a police report.
In the car was Cordell Jude, 22, and his girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant.
Jude told police he braked fast to avoid hitting Adkins. He said Adkins yelled "Watch it!" and added an obscenity. Adkins then moved to the driver's side door, Jude said, and swung an object that Jude describes in the police report as a bat or pipe. Nothing hit Jude or the car, the report says.
Jude pulled his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun from inside his pants, the report says.
"Jude stated that as Adkins raised an arm as if to swing at him again, Jude shot him once in the torso," the report says.
Adkins died holding his dog's leash in his right hand. Police officers found the dog still at his side. They did not find a pipe, bat or other weapon.
Jude said he didn't drive away from the confrontation because the dog was in the way. He told police he feared for his life and the lives of his girlfriend and their unborn baby. In response to investigators, Jude said he did not think Adkins would have killed them, but he thought Adkins was trying to hurt him.
Jude did not return phone calls for comment. A woman who answered the door at his suburban Phoenix home recently said Jude was not home and no one else in the family would comment.
The police report recommended second-degree murder charges against Jude. Police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson says the investigation continues. Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb says it will be reviewed by a committee of seasoned prosecutors that was set up two years ago to evaluate self-defense cases.
Roman, of the Urban Institute, says the Phoenix shooting is a prime example of the trouble with stand-your-ground laws. He says police can't arrest the shooter and question him in detail, even though interviews are critical in cases like this.
"It's another barrier to justice," he says.
Contributing: Dennis Wagner in Phoenix
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