Daniel Diodato trial: Jensen Beach man accused of shooting wife's would-be sex customer

STUART — Daniel Diodato either shot a man to protect himself and his wife, or he shot because the man refused to pay to have sex with Diodato's wife.

In a trial that began Tuesday morning in Martin County Circuit Court, a jury will have to determine what happened around 1:15 a.m. Oct. 3, 2011, in the minutes before Diodato shot Kyle Hicks with a shotgun in the Jensen Beach mobile home Diodato shared with his wife, Sarah.

Daniel Diodato, 27, is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm and deriving proceeds from prostitution.

Defense attorney Lance P. Richard admitted the Diodatos bought an Internet ad offering "companionship" with Sarah Diodato, and he admitted his client shot Hicks.

"Mr. Diodato was justified in the shooting," Richard told the jury. "He had just been beaten up by the guy (Hicks) and he took the shot to get him off his wife. He acted in self-defense and in the defense of others."

Assistant State Attorney Erin Kirkwood countered, "This case is all about money. It's not about self-defense. It's about the money the defendant was making by prostituting his own wife to any man who showed up at their door. ... When the defendant wasn't going to get money from the 'john' (Hicks), he shot the john."

Kirkwood said evidence in the case will show Hicks went to the Diodato trailer for sex but balked when he saw Daniel Diodato pointing a shotgun at another customer running from the residence.

Daniel Diodato started the fight with Hicks, Kirkwood said, and shot Hicks in the left buttock as he was trying to leave the trailer.

Daniel Diodato, she said, "was angry because he didn't get any money from (Hicks)."

Richard claimed Hicks started the fight, had "beat the crap out of Mr. Diodato" and was choking his wife when, "his back against the wall," Diodato shot Hicks, "not to kill but to injure."

Diodato immediately called 911, Richard said, and told the operator, "I had to shoot him."

Richard said Diodato was not guilty of the aggravated battery because he shot Hicks in self-defense and should be acquitted of the charge of deriving proceeds from prostitution because authorities had no evidence of his client receiving money from his wife's customers.

Richard admitted his client could be found guilty of a simple assault for chasing the first client out of the trailer, but added there was no evidence of a gun that would be needed to prove aggravated assault.

The trial before Circuit Judge William Roby is expected to run to the end of the week.

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