MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The former North Miami Police Department officer who shot at an autistic man but instead wounded his unarmed therapist is preparing to testify in his retrial Monday in Miami-Dade County court.
Earlier this year, Jonathon Aledda's first trial ended in a hung jury. The former sharpshooter testified that when he arrived at the scene July 2016 he decided to aim for Arnaldo Rios, an autistic patient who was holding a silver toy truck.
Aledda said he thought it was a gun, and Rios was going to execute Charles Kinsey, his therapist. He took cover behind a car about 150 feet away from Rios. He fired his weapon and missed his target. Kinsey was wounded in the thigh.
"My heart was pounding out of my chest," Aledda said during the first trial. "I have never been in the position to take a life to save another."
Five of the six jurors wanted to acquit Aledda, who was facing two counts of attempted manslaughter and two counts of culpable negligence. They only agreed to acquit him on one count of culpable negligence. The new set of jurors in the second trial isn't supposed to hear anything about the first trial.
Officer Tamara Numa made a mistake Friday that could have been costly. Aledda's retrial for the two counts of attempted manslaughter and one count of culpable negligence could have been declared a mistrial, because the new set of jurors heard something they weren't supposed to.
During her testimony in the second trial, Numa mentioned she had seen Aledda "after the verdict" of the first trial. Those three words were enough for Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine to ask the jury to leave the courtroom.
After a tense discussion, Aledda's attorneys decided not to call for a mistrial. And when the jury in the second trial returned to the courtroom, Fine gave them new instructions.
"Whatever happened or didn't happen before this case started is not part of this case," Fine said.
Prosecutor Reid Rubin told jurors during the opening statement in the retrial that had Aledda's aim been better, the blood that was left from Kinsey's wound could "have been Arnaldo's brains all over the street." Douglas Hartman, Aledda's attorney, said regardless of his aim, Aledda was justified in firing those shots.