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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening statements to begin in mistaken identity murder trial

The choice of "mistaken identity" in the title implies that, if the neighbor WAS a RSO it would be OK to kill him. Poor choice of words..
4-5-2012 florida:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Opening statements are expected to begin Thursday in the trial of an Orange County man accused of a mistaken identity murder.

Prosecutors said Michael Garay and another man killed his 79-year-old neighbor because he thought he was a sexual offender.

It's been two years since investigators say that Garay and his friend Robert Pascale beat 79-year-old Hugh Edwards to death.

After Pascale was caught by deputies hiding in the mud, he even admitted to his role in the alleged crime to WFTV.

"What did you do to him?" WFTV asked.

"I hit him twice with a bat. That was it," replied Pascale.

Investigators said Garay and Pascale were drunk and angry when they attacked Edwards, who they thought was a sex offender, but it turns out he was not.

Pascale hit Edwards with the bat and then threw it into the woods, police said.

Detectives also said that both of them also disposed of bloody clothes, information the prosecution is expected to share.

Pascale will face a judge later in a separate trial.

At one point on Wednesday Garay wanted to defend himself. WFTV found out that is because he tried to fire his defense attorney. But Judge Mike Murphy ruled that Garay's arguments were not legally sufficient.

Prosecutors offered Garay a plea deal, which would put him in prison for 33 years, but he turned it down and now he's facing life behind bars if convicted.

WFTV will have a crew in the courtroom before opening statements begin at 8:30 a.m. ..Source.. by


Trial starts in elderly man's baseball bat beating death

4-11-2012 Florida:

One of two men charged in the killing of an elderly Bithlo resident beaten to death almost two years ago faces trial this week in Orlando on a murder charge.

Deputies found Hugh Edwards, 78, dead in a trailer in Bithlo on May 12, 2010, after a woman who lived nearby called to report she thought two men she knew had killed him.

She had been drinking with Michael Garay, 33, and Robert Pascale, 22, an arrest report states, when Garay asked her what she would do if she lived "next to a sex offender."

Her response, the report states: I would kill him.

Soon after the conversation, the woman told deputies, she saw the two men enter Edwards' trailer and heard thumping sounds coming from inside.

An arrest report states the men later ditched a baseball bat used to beat Edwards and their bloody clothes in a wooded area. Edwards, records show, was not a sex offender.

Garay's trial began Wednesday with jury selection before Circuit Judge Mike Murphy. Opening statements are expected early Thursday. ..Source.. by Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel


Man convicted in Bithlo baseball bat murder


After a trial that lasted several days, a jury today returned a murder conviction for Michael Garay, one of two men accused in the beating death of an elderly Bithlo man almost two years ago.

The jury began deliberating about noon Wednesday, and returned its verdict this morning. Garay was also convicted of accessory after the fact. He faces life in prison.

Hugh Edwards, 78, was found dead in a trailer in Bithlo in May 2010. Garay and co-defendant Robert Pascale are accused of beating him to death with a Louisville Slugger.

According to testimony, the men mistakenly thought Edwards was a child molester.

Before deliberations, Prosecutor William Jay showed the jury Edwards' driver license.

"This was a senseless beating of a little old man," Jay told jurors. "Why? Because a few people thought he was a sex offender."

Jay described the injuries suffered by Edwards before showing jurors a photo of his bloody corpse, collapsed on a broken, overturned tabletop on the floor of his trailer.

"He was struck with a bat hard enough that his head actually caved in," Jay said.

The defense, however, argued that the state failed to prove not only that Garay had a hand in Edwards' killing, but that Garay was even in Edwards' trailer.

Garay's defense lawyer, Joseph Haynes Davis, told the jury that it was Pascale that killed Edwards. Any actions Garay took, Davis said, were for fear of Pascale.

It remains unclear why the men suspected that Edwards, who had no criminal history, was a molester.

During the trial, jurors heard multiple witness accounts of the night of the killing, as well as DNA and other forensic evidence. Pascale is currently awaiting trial on a murder charge. ..Source.. by Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel


Bithlo man guilty of beating 78-year-old man to death


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Bithlo man will spend the rest of his life in prison for beating to death a 78-year-old man he mistakenly thought was a sex offender

Robert Pascale, 22, had no reaction on Friday as the judge read the “guilty of first-degree murder’’ verdict in the 2010 slaying of Hugh Edwards. The sentence carries a mandatory life sentence.

Prosecutors said Pascale and Michael Garay, who had previously been convicted, beat Edwards to death with a baseball bat in May 2010 because they thought he was a sex offender.

On Friday, paramedics had to be called to Orange County Courthouse after Ruth Pascale, the defendant’s mother, was overcome with emotion and collapsed on the courtroom floor. She did manage to walk out of the courthouse on her own.

Moments after the verdict, Robert Pascale said as he was being led away, "It's not over until God says it is. I'm still coming home."

Prosecutor William Jay emphasized during closing arguments that Pascale admitted several times, including in an interview aired on WFTV, that he beat Edwards with a baseball bat.

Pascale’s attorney, Roger Weeden, argued that his client was only guilty of aggravated assault and not premeditated murder. Weeden said Pascale chose not to testify in his own defense because prosecutors could have then asked him about his prior felony convictions for robbery, battery and grand theft.

Garay is already serving a life sentence. ..Source.. by

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