STUART, Fla. - A Martin County jury reached three "guilty" verdicts, with two of the verdicts being reached on lesser-included offenses, late Friday afternoon in the trial of a Martin County man, 27-year-old Daniel Diodato, who claims he was protecting himself and his prostituting wife, when he shot a potential customer.
"The jury found him guilty of punching in self-defense, but not shooting," explained Diodato's lawyer, Lance Richards.
The jury ruled on the first and second charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault, but the charges were lowered to lesser-included offenses. That takes the crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The jury found Diodato guilty of deriving support (profit) from prositution.
"This takes the potential sentence from 25 years or a life sentence down to seven years," said Richards.
Assistant State Attorney Erin Kirkwood said in response to the verdict, "I think it's clear they didn't find him in self-defense, or they would have found him not guilty altogether. It seems that this was a compromise."
Two times on Friday afternoon, the jury had specific questions about testimonies they had already heard came back from deliberation to once again listen to recorded testimonies. They returned with their verdict just before 6:00 p.m.
27-year-old Daniel Diodato was accused of attacking a man, Kyle Hicks, who came to his trailer to purchase sex from Diodato's wife, Sarah, in October 2011. Hicks was responding to an online ad on Craigslist that offered "companionship" with Sarah.
Diodato told the jury in his testimony Thursday that Hicks became aggressive when he came to the couple's Jensen Beach home. He and Sarah both claim Hicks threatened their lives, so Daniel shot Hicks in the rear with a shotgun.
Friday, Judge William Roby once again dismissed the Stand your Ground claim made by Diodato's lawyer, Lance Richards, who twice has asked the charges against Diodato be thrown out based on those statutes.
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers Reporter Tyler Treadway contributed to this report.