From the Stuart News:
STUART, FL — A Jensen Beach, Florida man who claimed he shot his wife's prostitution customer in self-defense was acquitted of the most serious assault and battery charges Friday by a Martin County jury. But Daniel Diodato, whom the jury also convicted of a felony for deriving proceeds from prostitution, still faces prison time.
"The jury believed he acted in self-defense," defense attorney Lance Richard said. "Before the verdict, his maximum exposure was a life sentence. Now it's seven years."
For the confrontation that ended with seven shotgun pellets in Kyle Hicks's buttocks, the jury of three men and three women found Diodato guilty only of misdemeanor battery, with a maximum sentence of a year. He could face another year on a conviction of misdemeanor assault for threatening another man shortly before the shooting. The prostitution conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Assistant State Attorney Erin Kirkwood disputed attorney Lance Richard's explanation of the verdict, "I think it's clear they didn't find him in self-defense, or they would have found him not guilty altogether," she said. "It seems that this was a compromise." Jurors' verdict forms do not specify their reasoning.
Diodato, 27, has been in custody in lieu of $300,000 bail since the shooting in his mobile home on Oct. 3, 2011. He will be eligible for more than 16 months of credit for time served when Circuit Judge William Roby sentences him on Feb. 18.
Lance Richard, Diodato's attorney, said the jury's acquittal of aggravated battery was based on his plea of self-defense, because the defendant admitted the shooting. Aggravated battery with a firearm carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and up to life in prison. The charge of aggravated assault involving the other man has a 20-year minimum penalty.
The weeklong trial featured conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the shooting, which was not life-threatening. Diodato, his estranged wife, Sarah, and the two alleged victims all testified, describing a wee-hours scene in the mobile home of sex for money advertised online, drug abuse, Daniel Diodato's shotgun and a head-butting fight between him and Hicks.
Hicks and Diodato blamed each other for the fight. Diodato said he fired after Hicks, a five-time felon who claimed to be a mixed martial arts fighter, beat him up and began choking Sarah Diodato. Hicks testified that Diodato assaulted him for no reason.
"The whole case is a tragedy," lawyer Lance Richard said. "But, overall, it's a victory for Daniel."
For more info: Lance Richard, Esq., 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