‘Stand-your-ground’ hearings begin in deadly St. Augustine shooting

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Attorneys for a man accused of manslaughter in the death of another man outside a bar in St. Augustine are trying to get the charge dropped.

There was a court hearing Monday for Luis Casado, 31, who is facing charges of manslaughter and carrying a firearm in a prohibited place. The shooting occurred in May 2021, and the incident was recorded on surveillance camera.

RELATED: Prosecutors release video of deadly St. Augustine shooting as attorney calls for ‘stand your ground’ hearing

In November of 2021, a “stand-your-ground” petition was filed. In the document, Patrick Canan, Casado’s attorney, states that Amoia and another man “began to suddenly and in concert violently attack” Casado “for no apparent reason.”

Casado was seen talking with several of Amoia’s friends outside the bar, a conversation that the petition says “was of no real significance and certainly nothing threatening.” The petition says that “Amoia, drunk and leaning on the wall, suddenly became aggressive and insisted that Mr. Casado leave immediately,” even though Casado “did nothing to incite rudeness or violence.”

The petition says that before Casado had a chance to “make sense of Mr. Amoia’s bizarre request,” Amoia shoved him, then hit him in the face, knocking off his glasses, rendering Casado legally blind. It states the other man then punched Casado and Amoia followed that by hitting Casado four more times in the face when Casado “found himself forced up against a wall.”

The petition says that after Amoia hit Casado two more times, “he was afraid for his life and shot his firearm to prevent serious bodily injury or even death.”

The state’s first witness was Corporal Eric Yarborough, of the St. Augustine Police Department. Yarborough arrived to find Amoia lying on the ground shot and Casado standing on the sidewalk with his gun.

Casado explains why he shot Amoia.

“He hit me four times. I shot him,” Casado says in the bodycam footage. “Self defense. It was self defense.”

Marilyn Butts, a crime scene technician, captured evidence from the shooting. Among the evidence: Shell casings, Casado’s glasses that were knocked off his face when he was hit, and his gun.

The next three witnesses — Allison Seanard, Makayla Pomarzynski and Ryan Winland — all testified to seeing or hearing the shooting, but did not know all the details of what led up to it.

“I thought it was like horse play,” Seanard said. “I did see someone slap someone, it was like an open contact situation. but I did see someone from the group of boys. I saw a group of boys hit or made contact with the individual and he may have backed up. And then nothing else occurred and then there was a gun and chaos ensued.”

The final witness of the day, Michael Britton was working Dos Gatos in St. Augustine. The shooting happened outside, in front of the bar.

Britton testified that Casado was becoming aggressive outside and that Amoia tried to make him leave.

“am steps up, kind of like, turns him by the shoulders to like, ‘Alright buddy. It’s time for you to go, alright, f-off,’ and then he turns around and now this is where he’s acting bold and stepping in peoples personal spaces,” Britton said.

During cross examination, the defense said it was Amoia and another friend that instigated the fight and attacked Casado first.

Attorney: “Did you see Mr. Casado after these two hits … did you see him start to back up?”

Britton: “Uh, I don’t remember, but I would say so, yes.”

Attorney: “Do you remember his hand being in the air?”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Do you remember anyone trying to stop Mr. Amoia?”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Did you try to stop him?”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Did you even yell anything, ‘Don’t do that?’”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Did any of these guys here in exhibit one try to stop it?”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Did any of them yell, ‘Please don’t do that?’”

Britton: “No.”

Attorney: “Everyone just watched.”

Britton: “Yup.”

The stand-your-ground petition points out the sequence took 15 seconds and was caught on surveillance video. Casado’s lawyer notes that his client has no prior criminal history, but that both Amoia and the other man do.

The petition also includes the toxicology report on Amoia’s body from the medical examiner. Amoia’s blood alcohol concertation level was .266, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Florida. The report found he also had hydrocodone and marijuana in his system.

The hearings are expected to last until Thursday. It’s unclear if Casado will take the stand.

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