Mexican soap star accused in punching death to remain in US
MIAMI — A Florida judge on Monday set bail at $50,000 (around P2.6 million) and ordered house arrest in Miami for a Mexican soap opera actor accused of punching a man who later died.
A court officer handcuffed actor Pablo Lyle, 32, after a hearing before 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan Fine.
Lyle currently faces a battery charge that was filed last week, but assistant state attorney Genevieve Valle asked for $1 million (around P52.1 million) bail as her team investigates and considers charging him with second-degree murder.
The judge set new conditions for Lyle’s release because 63-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez, the man he’s accused of punching, died days later.
“We need to protect the community,” Valle told the judge. “The defendant left the victim lying on the street.”
Lyle is a star of the telenovela “Mi Adorable Maldición”, Spanish for “My Lovely Curse”.
He appeared in court in a blue suit with his hair pulled back in a bun and answered questions from his attorneys on whether he had ever been arrested before and whether he owned property or received any royalties for a successful movie released in January.
Lyle said he had never been arrested, owned no properties and was only paid $15,000 (almost P782,200) for his first movie “Mirreyes contra Godinez.” His attorneys said his annual salary as an actor is about $27,000 (around P1.4 million).
Lyles’s lawyers said he would leave jail and stay at an undisclosed home in the Miami area wearing an ankle monitor.
Defense attorney Philip Reizenstein said his client was the victim of a road rage incident and was trying to protect his family when he punched Hernandez. Lyle’s wife, two young children and another young child were in the vehicle when the confrontation happened, he said.
“This was about a peaceful man protecting his family. They were assaulted and attacked without warning or provocation” Reizenstein told news reporters after the hearing.
According to Lyle’s account detailed in the arrest affidavit, Lyle and his brother-in-law said they feared for their safety after Hernandez got out of his car at a stoplight on March 31 to protest Lyle’s brother-in-law cutting him off in traffic. Authorities have not released the name of his brother-in-law.
The affidavit says Hernandez walked up to the driver’s side window, pounded on it with an open hand and the driver, Lyle’s brother-in-law, got out and said “Don’t bang on my window.”
Once the brother-in-law saw his car rolling toward the intersection, he ran back to it and stopped it. The brother-in-law told detectives he didn’t see a physical confrontation between Lyle and Hernandez.
A video appears to show the brother-in-law getting out of his car and arguing before Hernandez can bang on the window. As the brother-in-law runs back to the rolling car, Hernandez heads back toward his car.
Lyle, then, jumps out of the car and runs nine steps back to Hernandez, who is almost to the open door of his car. Hernandez turns to face Lyle and receives a punch in the head before collapsing.
Hernandez’s family attended the hearing Monday and court officials say a member of his family had to receive medical attention after she became unwell. They declined to comment to news reporters.
Lyle had already traveled back to Mexico after his arrest on April 1. His lawyers said he was fired from a movie project last week. Spanish-language media shared a letter from producers on Monday saying Lyle would not participate any longer and expressing support for the actor as he solved “personal matters.”
Immigration issues were brought up in court because Lyle is a Mexican citizen.
His arrest affidavit says he has U.S. citizenship, but his lawyers said that’s not the case. Bruce Lehr, one of his attorneys, did not specify what kind of visa Lyle held, but he said he was “legally in the country.” Usually ICE does not intervene in cases where immigrants are in the country legally, unless there is a conviction.
An arraignment was set for May 1. MKH
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