Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teen gets bond in beating death of homeless man

Bail has been set at $15,000 for a Lakeland teenager accused of second-degree murder in the beating death of a homeless man.

Shawn Whitten, 17, is one of three teenagers accused of fatally injuring Joseph Ruba, 52, during an April 17 fight outside a restaurant. Witnesses told detectives that a confrontation began after Ruba and 18-year-old Christopher Decatur exchanged words.

Decatur and Cody Osborne, 15, also face charges of second-degree murder.

Whitten and Osborne each kicked Ruba. A medical examiner's opinion is that "more than likely" kicks caused most of the damage to Ruba.

Whitten's lawyer, Gil Colon, argued his client stepped forward to defend Decatur after Decatur yelled that he had been cut by Ruba. A pocketknife was recovered near Ruba's body.

When Ruba was no longer a threat, Whitten attempted more than three times unsuccessfully to pull Decatur away and restrain him, Colon said.

Judge Michael Raiden said it remains an "unresolved question" whether Whitten and Osborne had a "clear and unmistakable right to defend their friend."

Read The Ledger report here. And see previous posts here and here.


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