Mexican actor Pablo Lyle, charged with manslaughter after fatally punching a driver during a road-rage confrontation in Miami, wants a judge to throw out the case under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
Lyle, 32, appeared in court Thursday as his defense team has asked a Miami-Dade judge to dismiss the case. Circuit Judge Alan Fine set a tentative Stand Your Ground hearing for Aug. 22.
The actor is claiming self-defense for throwing the punch that killed 63-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez on March 31. Hernandez suffered a traumatic brain injury and died four days later at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Lyle was the star of the Mexican telenovela “Mi Adorable Maldición,” or “My Adorable Curse,” and now acts in movies. His legal case has drawn widespread coverage in Spanish-language media, particularly in Mexico, where he was an up-and-coming actor. He also stars in a newly released Netflix drama called “Yankee.”
He’s been ordered to remain in Miami on house arrest.
Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, judges have wide legal leeway to grant “immunity” to someone they deem was acting in self-defense. Prosecutors have long complained that jurors, not judges, should be the ones to decide whether a defendant acted lawfully in using violence against someone else.
The controversial law, passed by Florida lawmakers in 2005, also eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force. Critics say the law, pushed by the politically powerful National Rifle Association, has led to increased vigilantism and gives criminals an easy path to beat justice.
The filing of the Stand Your Ground motion was no surprise.
The actor’s defense lawyers have always insisted that he was defending himself, his wife and two children from what he believed was a violent attacker. That day, Lyle’s brother-in-law was driving him and his family to the airport, when he cut off Hernandez.
Widely circulated surveillance video shows that Hernandez got out and angrily banged on the driver’s window of the other car. Lyle’s brother-in-law got out of the stopped car and the two began cursing at each other. The car was not in park and started rolling into the intersection.
The brother-in-law ran back to the car to put it in park. In that moment, as Hernandez walked back toward his own car, Lyle got out of the passenger seat and ran toward the driver and punched him.
Defense lawyers Bruce Lehr, Philip Reizenstein and Alex Sola say the actor punched the man because he had no idea if he was going to grab a weapon from the car.
“There can be no dispute that Hernandez provoked this incident. If Hernandez does not get out of his car, this case would not have occurred,” the lawyers wrote in their motion asking for immunity.
They called Hernandez’s actions a “direct threat of imminent death or great bodily harm” to the Lyle family.