Hivo Gonzalez, a rippled Miami model and boater, stopped for gas on his way to a Friday night of fishing.
He wound up charged with murder.
Prosecutors say Gonzalez, 32, got into an argument with a panhandler named Pedro Cruz at a gas station on the 500 block of Northwest 79th Street in June. Newly released surveillance video shows that after the two exchanged words, Gonzalez returned to the cab of his pickup truck, retrieved a heavy fish bat and chased the panhandler down.
Two blows struck the head of Cruz. He crumpled to the ground. He never got up.
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Cruz, 49, died a few days later at a Miami hospital. Gonzalez is facing a charge a second-degree murder. If the case goes to trial, Gonzalez, who has pleaded not guilty, would likely claim self-defense.
Gonzalez’s defense lawyer says Cruz was repeatedly yelling threats because Gonzalez and his friend refused to hand over any money. He says Gonzalez didn’t know Cruz had been mortally wounded.
“This is a really good-natured guy who believed he was put into a life-or-death situation,” said lawyer H. Scott Fingerhut. “We are deeply sorry about what happened to Mr. Cruz. The bottom line: Hivo Gonzalez is no killer.”
Gonzalez, who had his boat in tow, drove off and was later arrested at the Pelican Harbor marina. He “did not call 911, and did not render aid to the victim,” according to a Miami police arrest report.
Detectives recovered the bat, which is used by anglers to subdue large fish after they’ve been reeled in.
Gonzalez, of Miami Springs, runs charter fishing trips and works in the fitness industry. He also competes in “freestyle calisthenics” competitions, a sport in which athletes do intense workouts in public spaces using street signs, benches, bars, benches and even playground equipment.
Before the late-night encounter at the Valero station, Cruz had been arrested over a dozen times for charges such as aggressive panhandling, cocaine possession and trespassing.