MIAMI – A Mexican telenovela star charged with manslaughter following a road rage incident in South Florida appeared in court Thursday for a "stand your ground" hearing, but a Miami-Dade County judge ultimately denied the motion to dismiss the charge against Pablo Lyle.
Lyle's attorney was seeking to get the charge dropped against his client, claiming the actor was trying to protect his family.
"He used the lowest level of force that there is. He hit him once. I think he was protecting his family and he was reasonable," the attorney said.
A prosecutor, however, said the state believes there was no imminent threat against Lyle at the time he got out of the passenger seat of an SUV being driven by his brother-in-law to confront the 63-year-old victim.
Lyle, 32, was arrested after the March 31 incident at Northwest 27th Avenue and Northwest 14th Street that police said resulted in Juan Hernandez's death.
According to authorities, Lyle was in the passenger seat of a red SUV heading to Miami International Airport when his brother-in-law, Lucas Del Fino, cut off a blue car driven by Hernandez.
Surveillance video from the scene shows Hernandez, who appeared to be upset, getting out his car at the red light and approaching Del Fino.
Del Fino gets out and the pair exchange words as the SUV rolls toward the intersection, the video shows.
"We were very close to each other. We were both yelling at each other," Del Fino said during Thursday's hearing. "I was yelling at him, 'Don't touch my car. Don't you bang on my car.' I said that in Spanish."
The video shows Del Fino dashing back to catch the rolling SUV when the actor gets out of the passenger seat, goes toward Hernandez and throws a punch that knocks the man out of frame onto the street.
Lyle took the stand during his hearing, saying he believed Hernandez was a threat "to me, to my family, to everybody."
"He lifts his hands up and I reacted," Lyle said. "I punched him."
But a witness who also testified Thursday said Hernandez appeared to be backing off when he was struck.
"The gentleman went like this to him, like it's not that serious," Maria Rizo, who witnessed the incident, said in court Thursday while holding up her hands. "The next thing I saw was a punch. It was one blow. The guy went down. Never moved again."
"Definitely he had aggression. I saw it in his body language -- how I saw him clenching his fists," another witness, Jessica Rocha, said.
Police said after the incident Lyle got back in the SUV, which was full of family members, and Del Fino made a U-turn and left the scene.
Hernandez, who suffered a head injury, was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died four days later.
A witness who snapped a picture of the license plate helped lead police to the airport, where Lyle and Del Fino surrendered, authorities said.
Del Fino has not been charged in the case.
According to authorities, Lyle claims he threw the punch because he feared for his family's safety after Hernandez approached their vehicle and pounded on the window.
He has pleaded not guilty.