STUART, Fla. -- A "Stand Your Ground" case in a Treasure Coast courtroom began on Tuesday. It's one of the first local cases to test the law since the controversial 2012 Treyvon Martin shooting, where a young teen was shot walking home from his friend's house, and a struggle ensued.
But this case is not clear cut. A Jensen Beach husband is on trial for attempted murder after he shot his wife's sex client in October 2011. Daniel Diadato claimed the sex client Kyle Hicks, attacked the couple in their home, after the sex act did not go the way Hicks wanted.
The Stand Your Ground Law in Florida states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat.
But Daniel Diadato claimed he 'stood his ground' while prostituting his wife on the online classified website backpage.com. Diadato admitted he shot the client, Hicks, but only when, he claimed, Hicks became aggressive with his 21-year-old wife Sarah.
The controversial law says if you are committing a felony at the time you must "retreat first."
"That means before you shoot someone you have to retreat to a place where you can't get away," said Diadato's defense attorney, Lance Richard. "Essentially that is what happened in this case, is he retreated to the back of this trailer. He has the gun. He's acting not in self-defense, but in defense of his wife at this point."
Diodato and his wife are alleged to have posted ads for "companionship" on the Internet. Hicks, who is a registered sex offender, came to the couple's trailer home in search of sexual favors. After a fight broke out over the cost of services, Diodato shot Hicks at close range with a shotgun wounding him. Diodato was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Firearm, Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and Deriving Proceeds from Prostitution. Richard has filed a motion to dismiss the aggravated battery charges under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law and claims that his client should be immune from prosecution for shooting Hicks.
But prosecutors said Diadato attacked the client--not the other way around.
"The state is trying to portray them as the aggressor, when if you look at it, I believe they are the victims. The one shot in the case was the aggressor," said Anthony Diodato, Daniel's father.
So Diadato is on trial this week, asking that the Stand Your Ground law should apply to his case and throw out any criminal charges against him for the shooting of Hicks.
"It says if you are acting in self-defense or in defense of others you can be immune from prosecution." attorney Lance Richard said.
Daniel's father admits the couple suffered from addiction, and sold sex for money. But even with an unethical or illegal crime, he argues, they are able to defend themselves in their home.
"They allowed this person to come into their house, whether it was for a drug deal prostitution or any other reason--illegal or not--they were fearful of their lives. They were both defending themselves," Diadato, Sr. said.
Prosecutors put another sex client on the stand today, who testified he also was threatened by a gun-toting Diadato when he asked for a refund. The state is arguing it shows a pattern of violence, not standing your ground. The trial is expected to last all week.
Lance Richard at www.lrichardlaw.com
Attorney Lance Richard handles personal injury, family law, and criminal cases in Martin County, Florida; St. Lucie County, Florida; Palm Beach County, Florida; Indian River County, Florida; Okeechobee County Florida, and the following cities: Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, Wellington, Boynton Beach, Port. St. Lucie, Sewall's Point, Ft. Pierce, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee