A Florida man, charged with felony battery and manslaughter for killing a woman with a single punch to the face in a Daytona Beach bar last year, will face at least 11 years in prison.
Michael Lamothe, 36, could also serve eight years probation after he finishes his prison term, according to an agreement with prosecutors, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Tuesday.
Lamothe pleaded no contest to the charges.
Lamothe, of Ormond Beach, is accused of killing Debra Jost, 54, last April at the Oyster Bay bar. According to a police report and surveillance video, Lamothe sat next to Jost at the bar, went behind her and hugged her. In doing so, he grabbed her breasts. When Jost told him to get off her, Lamothe walked away. Then he punched a man, identified as Marc Smith, who had asked him to leave the bar after Jost became upset.
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Lamothe and Smith scuffled for more than a minute and Lamothe left the bar. According to police, he called to his friend, Matt Dellinger, in the parking lot and the pair tried to re-enter Oyster Bar. Jost walked to the bar’s front door and tried to close it to keep them out, but Dellinger opened the door and Lamothe punched Jost in the face.
Knocked off her feet, Jost fell backward, struck her head on the floor and died a day later of her injuries at Halifax Health Medical Center, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Dellinger was not charged.
According to the police report, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Lamothe, described by USA Today as the “size of a football linebacker,” initially said he did not remember whom he punched. He then said he did punch a woman who was walking toward him “in a threatening manner.”
Lamothe had a previous misdemeanor battery conviction for punching another woman in the face outside a strip club in New Smyrna Beach in 2013 and did six months probation. Also, he was Baker Acted in 2015. He was accused of intentionally running a red light and causing a crash near the Rockin’ Ranch in Ormond Beach.
In that 2015 incident, Lamothe texted an ex-girlfriend that he was trying to kill himself. Lamothe was charged with aggravated battery but prosecutors did not file charges.
Assistant State Attorney Chris Miller told the News-Journal that prosecutors agreed to the 11-year imprisonment deal for Jost’s death because it provided a certain outcome and would spare Jost’s family the stress of a court trial. He said her family agreed to the deal.
“At the end of the day we didn’t see any evidence that he intended to kill her, so that ruled out first-degree murder,” Miller told the News-Ledger. “We are talking about one punch. It was catastrophic for sure.”
Lamothe’s sentencing is set for Feb. 27 at the S. James Foxman Justice Center in Daytona Beach.