final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit,
St. Lucie County; Elizabeth A. Metzger, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Haughwout, Public Defender, and Richard B. Greene, Assistant
Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Richard
Valuntas, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for
Ronnie Travis Kruse was charged with battery on a person over
the age of sixty-five, and was convicted of the lesser
included offense of battery. He argues that his counsel was
ineffective for failing to request a self-defense jury
instruction. We agree, and reverse his conviction and remand
the case for a new trial.
2015, appellant had an altercation with the victim outside of
the victim's home. According to the victim, appellant
came from across the street and started screaming at him,
accusing him of either selling or giving drugs to a present
third person. The victim claimed that appellant grabbed him,
threw him into the bushes, and broke his jaw by hitting him
in the face.
did not contact legal authorities about the incident, but
they came to him two days later after appellant called a
detective whom he knew in order to inform him that he had hit
the victim during the altercation. According to the third
party, appellant put his finger near victim's face,
causing victim to initiate physical contact by swiping
appellant's finger away.
trial, appellant described what happened as follows:
[APPELLANT]: [Victim] grabbed my hand, this, my right hand,
so I physically with my left hand grabbed his shirt, he
grabbed this part of my arm, we ended up in a shoving match
almost. He was trying to push me, I, I guess out of the yard
or into the bush cause we stumbled into a hedge.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And what did you do after that?
[APPELLANT]: I kinda panicked cause I didn't know what he
was gonna do, I apparently hit him twice, I wasn't even
sure cause I didn't even think about it, it was, it just,
ya' know I guess when . . .
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: (INDISCERNIBLE) . . .
[APPELLANT]: When fear takes over you fight for your life and