A Little Havana man was justified in stabbing his brother to death during a May 2010 brawl, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Friday.
The judge’s ruling tossed out a second-degree murder charge against Dennis Sosa Palma, who killed his brother, Juan Alberto Hernandez-Sosa, at their efficiency at 1700 Northwest Fifth St.
Sosa-Palma, 26, claimed that his brother, drunk and belligerent, attacked him with a knife and in the struggle the defendant stabbed his sibling.
There were no eyewitness to the crime, and none of the evidence gathered by police or the medical examiner established who the aggressor was, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom ruled.
“No other witnesses saw the altercation or could contradict the defendant’s testimony that the victim attacked him with a knife,” she wrote in granting him immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
It was not the first murder case Bloom has tossed out under the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which gained national notoriety after the killing of Trayvon Martin, a Miami Gardens teen killed in Sanford by a self-styled neighborhood watchman.
The 2005 law eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force to meet a threat. Critics argue that the law fosters a shoot-first, Wild-West attitude that gives criminals a pass.
Bloom in March cleared Greyston Garcia, who chased down a thief who had broken into his truck and stolen his radio in Little Havana in January 2011. With one fatal knife thrust to the chest, Garcia felled Pedro Roteta.
The judge ruled that Garcia acted in self-defense because the thief swung a bag filled with heavy car radios, and a medical examiner testified that “a 4-6 pound bag of metal being swung at one’s head would lead to serious bodily injury or death,’’ her order said.
Garcia was later killed by random gunfire outside a Liberty City convenience store.
In the Sosa-Palma case, he claimed his brother had a history of suicidal thoughts, drinking and attacking him.
That night, he claimed, his brother awoke drunk and attacked him. In the scuffle, Hernandez-Sosa was stabbed but remained standing and yelling at him as Sosa-Palma escaped the efficiency, the defendant claimed.
Sosa-Palma, however, did not call police but called his pastor, claiming that his brother had committed suicide. Sosa-Palma later called 911 and reported the death as a suicide, and initially denied being in a fight, giving police various versions of his own injuries.
Bloom felt that Sosa-Palma’s story was credible.