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Neighbor accused of killing neighbor

MANATEE — One neighbor is in jail charged with murder and another is dead after he was beaten with a pipe in the street.

A man was found lying in his yard with a large gash on the back of his head after his neighbor allegedly beat him with a metal pipe late Friday night, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Patrick Steele, 42, was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg after his body showed he was repeatedly beaten. He died early Saturday morning, according to a report.

Steele was drinking Friday night with his neighbor, 52-year-old Manuel D. Canales, according to residents and authorities.

The two men have young sons who sometimes play basketball in Steele’s driveway, according to neighbors.

The men, who were friends off and on for five years, began arguing.

Canales told detectives in interviews Saturday the argument turned physical with Steele throwing the first punch. Canales hit back and later picked up a metal pipe, according to detectives.

A 64-year-old man who lives near Canales stepped outside his mobile home after his dog alerted him to noise outside.

“Patrick was in the street beyond that fence,” said the man, who feared giving his name, pointing at Canales’ yard. “Manny was after him with some object that was three feet long. I didn’t see him hit him, but Patrick told him to stop.”

Canales allegedly ran after Steele and struck him three to four more times despite Steele’s protests, according to authorities.

Steele got on his bicycle and rode a short distance before collapsing in the yard, the man said.

“I didn’t know Patrick was hurt that bad or I would have called the police. I saw him on his bike,” the man said.

About five minutes later, one of Steele’s sons heard a noise. The boy and his mother went outside with another neighbor and found Steele bleeding in the yard.

The neighbor called 911, according to one of Steele’s family members.

Steele’s family declined to comment further Saturday. Steele’s wife, Melissa, took their two sons, ages 6 and 9, to stay with Steele’s parents in Bradenton.

Deputies roped off part of the street in the 3700 block of 19th Street West just after 10p.m. They paced the block with flashlights searching for evidence. They found a smashed brown glass beer bottle laying in the street.

Canales was arrested on charges of second-degree murder Saturday after he turned himself in, according to officials. He showed detectives where he placed the pipe.

The man, who witnessed part of the fight, said he is grateful Canales is behind bars.

“I’m surprised Manny took a weapon and beat him with it. He wasn’t man enough to do it with his fists,” the man said.

Steele’s death is the 14th homicide in Manatee County this year. In 2008, there were 17 homicides.

Out of the 10 homicides the sheriff’s office has investigated this year, five are closed with arrests.

Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.