State attorney's office clears woman in fatal shooting

Janeen Peterson cleared in X-Zavien Brown's death


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time Channel 4 is learning what happened back in April when X-Zavien Brown was shot and killed.

Investigators said Brown drove to his ex-girlfriend, Janeen Peterson's home, on April 30. Peterson had a restraining order against Brown at the time. When Brown arrived at the home, he drove up and pinned Peterson between her car and his. 

Fearing for her safety, Peterson grabbed her handgun out her glove box for protection. According to the police report, the two argued, Brown (pictured below) then violently accelerated his car in reverse, hit a neighbor's car and pressed the gas, driving toward Peterson.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of X-Zavien Brown
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of X-Zavien Brown

Peterson told police that a few feet from the fender of her car, she fired one shot into Brown's windshield. Brown's car swerved and continued down Norwood Avenue. He was found later that night, dead inside his car at a strip mall parking lot.

Eight months later, the State Attorney's office cleared Peterson of any charges. Prosecutor Mark Caliel concluded that Peterson acted in self-defense and that her actions were justifiable.

"Mr. Caliel's made a decision that he cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt because he believes that there is a valid self-defense claim here, so a jury should find this person not guilty," explained Attorney Gene Nichols. 

Nichols told Channel 4 that if attorneys had decided to prosecute Peterson, she likely would have said she was standing her ground, which could lead to the judge dismissing the case.

"Stand your ground is the immunity ruling that a judge has to do," said Nichols. "Self-defense is what a jury will find in trial, whether or not you were defending yourself. So one is a legal issue for a judge to decide, one is a factual issue for a jury to decide," said Nichols.

In Peterson's case, prosecutors believed the use of deadly force was justifiable.

"Clearly she was acting in self-defense, at least that's what the evidence establishes, so the state knew that this was not a case that they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, so they've said self-defense in this case," Nichols said. "You can expect that if she would have been prosecuted, she would have brought a stand-your-ground claim to try and keep from even being prosecuted in the first place."