A Florida court has overturned a judge’s decision to remove a name from a wall that commemorates the shooting death of a man accused of killing his wife.
The judge in Lakeland found that the name is not protected by the First Amendment and that the county could be sued for its removal.
The Lakeland Sun-Sentinel reported that the judge in question was former Judge Michael Gerson.
A judge in St. Petersburg had ordered the name removed because the county doesn’t have a “common law right to remove it” as it was in its contract with the city.
Gerson appealed that ruling, and the Florida Supreme Court denied him the right to put the name back up.
But Gerson, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, told The Associated Press that he had no choice.
“We didn’t have the money to pay for a lawyer and we couldn’t pay for an attorney,” Gerson said.
“So we were trying to be creative and we wanted to be able to get the name.”
The name of Michael Thomas Witherspoon, the alleged gunman in the slaying of his wife, was added to the wall in 2014, after he had served a prison sentence for assault with a deadly weapon.
He pleaded guilty to the crime in December 2016 and served a year of probation.
Witherspan is also accused of shooting his wife in the face.
The woman, who was pregnant, was found unresponsive on the floor of their Lakeland home in December 2017, but she survived.
Wetherspoon was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.