After some heated words, a homeless Army veteran turned around and clocked a young woman inside a Miami Beach convenience store. Her mother jumped in.
The scrum, newly released video shows, culminated in 63-year-old Joseph Kennett pulling a blade and repeatedly stabbing both unarmed women.
Immediately after his arrest, Kennett invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. But Miami Beach police said the video showed he was the aggressor.
Prosecutors released the video on Friday, days after his defense lawyer insisted to the court that Kennett was defending himself against the two women.
“He’s a war hero,” defense attorney Alex Michaels told a judge Tuesday during a brief hearing. “He almost died for this country.”
“The two victims could have died,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jose Fernandez said.
“He could have died first,” Michaels said. “They attacked him and could have killed him. They are the ones who should have been arrested.”
Prosecutor Jordana Nahum jumped in: “The defendant had a nine and a-half-inch blade.”
Kennett is charged with two counts of attempted murder. His trial has been set for June 13.
At the time of his arrest, he was on federal probation for robbing a Lake Worth bank in January 1997. He lost his case at trial was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. Kennett was released to the streets in October 2013.
In the Miami Beach case, he was arrested in December for the fight inside the Christal Food Store, 7451 Collins Ave.
Jennifer Gaal, 27, and her mother, Blanca Nieves, 55, had gone to the market just before midnight to buy some beer.
Gaal believed Kennett had disrespected her mother inside the store. That’s when, according to police, Kennett — who is six-feet tall and weighs almost 300 pounds — punched Gaal in the face, knocking her to the ground. He continued to punch her while she was on the ground, police said.
When Nieves took up the fight, police said Kennett pulled the blade from his back right pocket and stabbed the daughter three times in the stomach. As Nieves approached, police said Kennett stabbed her in the chest – barely missing her heart.
A witness pointed out Kennett to police, who was stopped and arrested while trying to hop a trolley.