Pinellas County Jury Finds Kilfin Law Firm, P.C. Client Not Guilty of Aggravated Battery

On Thursday, February 9th, 2017, a Pinellas County jury found a Kilfin Law Firm, P.C. client not guilty of Aggravated Battery. The case was tried with my good friend Skip Olney, owner of Olney Law, P.A. If convicted, our client faced fifteen years in the state penitentiary.

Our client was arrested on September 6th, 2014, after police arrived at her Clearwater residence in response to a 911 open line call. Upon arrival, law enforcement officers made entry and observed our client and the alleged victim (her estranged husband) lying on the living room floor fighting over a knife. The alleged victim had suffered obvious blunt force trauma to the right side of his head and his nose. He had a laceration to his right hand and two stab wounds to the back of his right thigh. Our client suffered a concussion, contusions to her chest and back, and a deep laceration to her right thigh, which required eleven stitches to close. Police discovered two knives in the living room, and a hammer and a screw driver under the kitchen table. In the hallway, police located a bottle of hairspray, a pair of handcuffs, two electric control devices and a number of zip ties. The alleged victim and our client were in the midst of a highly contentious divorce at the time and, due to financial considerations, decided to continue residing together until the divorce was finalized.

The alleged victim told police that our client attacked him in the hallway just outside his bedroom door after he discovered that the door was somehow locked. He said she sprayed him the face with the hairspray, then zapped him repeatedly with one of the electric control devices, before striking him in the head multiple times with the hammer. According to the alleged victim, the confrontation moved into the living room, where our client then stabbed him in the back of the leg twice.

Our client elected not to speak to the the police when they arrived, fearful that she had been set up by the victim. She explained to police that she wanted to consult with an attorney before making a formal statement on the evening's events. I believe that her election to remain silent, combined with the fact that she had a key to her estranged husband's locked bedroom door (which he claimed to know nothing about) resulted in her being arrested.

Our client had a much different version of events. She explained that her husband was extremely upset over the prospect of having to pay alimony and assume a share of their fairly significant marital debt. As result, he threatened her on numerous occasions with arrest unless she agreed to terms that were more favorable to him.

On the night of September 6th, our client was coming in through the garage with a cardboard box filled with items she had gathered to fix a fence in the backyard,including the hammer, the screw driver, and the twist ties (to secure the posts to the netting). The handcuffs were a toy that belonged to one of her children many years ago. She brought them in to show to one of her other adult children who was still living in the house.

As she walked past her husband (while he was standing outside his bedroom door), he zapped her with one of the taser devices before slamming her against the wall repeatedly. The box she was carrying hit the floor and the items scattered. Our client told the jury that she always carried a small taser device in her pocket due to her fear of the alleged victim. When she zapped him in the neck, she was able to break free and tried to run. At that point, he took her to the ground and began choking her from behind. She grabbed the hammer and swung it over her shoulder, striking him in the side of the head. When he did not release her, she swung again, hitting him in the face. When he still would not let go of her neck, she swung a third time. He put his hand up to protect his face and was struck yet again, causing the hand to break in several places.

At that point, our client testified, she got up to run. The alleged victim tackled her to the floor in the living room and prevented her from reaching a cordless phone to call 911. During the ensuing struggle, the alleged victim retrieved a collectible knife that was sitting on the recliner. Fearing she was about to be killed, our client reached for a second decorative knife that was kept as a show piece under an adjacent end table, and stabbed him in the back of the leg. The alleged victim grabbed the second knife and, after a tug-of-war over it, ended stabbing himself with it a second time. He then grabbed the first knife and cut our client's thigh open with it. To prevent further injury, our client grabbed the first knife, and each struggled to gain control over it just as police were making entry.

Through cross examination, witness testimony, and photographic evidence, it was made clear that the alleged victim's testimony was not accurate on several key points. Our client denied knowing that the alleged victim's door was locked, postulating that he had secretly switched the lock with one belonging to another room in the house which she did have the key to. This, we theorized, was part of an elaborate set up by her husband to have her arrested (and incarcerated) in an effort to avoid his alimony obligations. Our position to the jury was that our client used no more force than was absolutely necessary to eliminate the immediate threat and to get away. The jury agreed and our client was found not guilty.

As always, the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office tried a very clean case and displayed the utmost degree of professionalism. Based on the facts and circumstances, however, this was without question the right result. Our client has been vindicated and can now move on with her life. As a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney, I can say that it is these types of cases that make the countless hours, sleepless nights, and stress filled days worth it.

Categories: Criminal Defense