Friday, April 21, 2006

Deltona, Florida

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal of April 21, 2006
Fatal Deltona shooting 'justifiable'; no charges filed

A Deltona man who fired five shots and killed his aunt's husband last month will not be charged, the State Attorney's Office said.

"I agree with the sheriff's investigation that the conduct of Luis Perez constituted justifiable force," Assistant State Attorney Colleen Taylor said this week.

Perez, 28, told investigators that on March 9 he feared for his life and shot Roberto Legarreta, 38, when he charged at him with what he thought was a crowbar. Sheriff's deputies later recovered a 12-inch knife at the scene along with five .40-caliber spent shells.

But news that Perez will not be charged left Legarreta's family in disbelief and anger. The family disputes the self-defense claim.

"The person that got killed is not a dog, he was a human being," said Legarreta's mother, Santa Ramos of Deltona.

Aixsa Legarreta, the sister, said the Medical Examiner told the family her brother tried to run because he was hit in the back.

However, an autopsy report states Legarreta was first shot in the front and began to spin around. He was shot in both arms, his right upper buttocks, abdomen and tailbone.

After firing the gun, Perez left and called 911. A sheriff's dispatcher convinced him to pull over and wait for deputies in a gas station about 2 1/2 miles from the shooting, deputies said.

Roberto Legaretta was taken by EVAC ambulance to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City where he died an hour later.

. (Perez) "had already shot and mangled both of his arms," said Legarreta's wife, Janice Padilla, the shooter's aunt. "So why did he have to continue firing at him? And then he flees."

In a 911 recording, Perez told a dispatcher eight times he was attacked with a crowbar.

"He was (expletive) gonna hit me with a crowbar," Perez shouted to a dispatcher as children can be heard crying. "I could not move my car . . . I stuck my gun out. I shot somebody, he was going to attack me."

Perez referred questions to his attorney, Gustavo Padron, who did not return calls this week.

The incident began when Padilla's ex-boyfriend, who had not visited his daughters in a year, called Padilla and said he was coming by to pick up their 14- and 12-year-old daughters and that he was bringing his friend Perez. Padilla begged her ex-boyfriend to wait 15 minutes before coming to the home because she knew Perez and Legarreta didn't get along.

"I knew my nephew had problems with my husband so I wanted to get him out of the house before they came," Padilla said.

Perez was already parked outside the home about 7 p.m. March 9 when Legarreta opened the garage door to leave, Padilla said.

"He (Perez) started yelling to my husband that he was a fool because I was cheating on him," Padilla said. "Then I saw the flame from the gun."

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