MIAMI – Actor Pablo Lyle appeared in court on Thursday in Miami-Dade County, as his defense attorney asked a judge for another chance to prove his innocence in the case of the death of Juan Hernandez.
As Lyle awaits sentencing for a conviction on manslaughter, Attorney Philip Reizenstein attempted to persuade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez to grant his motion for a new trial.
Reizenstein said Florida law recognizes that “people fight and people throw punches” and he asked the judge, as a juror, to perform an independent review of the facts and the law on “excusable homicide.”
Reizenstein argued that the prosecution “narrowed” the evidence down to Lyle’s single punch on March 31, 2019, near the intersection of Northwest 27th Avenue and 14th Street. The prosecution argued Lyle decided not to testify about his “state of mind” during the trial.
The evidence “focused the jury, I think, improperly on the punch and the brain swelling and the organ failures and the damage to the brain — none of those things were on Pablo Lyle’s mind when he did this,” Reizenstein said.
Lyle’s punch was done in “the heat of passion” after Hernandez, the “aggressor in this case,” suddenly provoked him, Reizenstein said. Lyle, his wife Ana Araujo, and their children were passengers in the car that his brother-in-law, Lucas Delfino, was driving. Hernandez got out of his car and confronted them.
“When he got out of his car, he was angry. When he walked up to the car, he was angry. When he banged on the window, he was angry. When he cursed,” Reizenstein said about Hernandez’s behavior.
The prosecution argued it was not an “excusable” act or a justifiable homicide because Hernandez was walking away when Lyle followed Hernandez, who put his arms up. The defense has argued Lyle perceived Hernandez as “a threat.”
Before a surveillance camera recorded Lyle punching Hernandez, the actor threw plenty of punches while playing a businessman on the run in “Yankee,” a Netflix crime drama series. The soap opera star starred in “Mi Adorable Maldición,” “La Sombra Del Pasado” and “Corazón Que Miente.”
Lyle was first arrested for battery on April 8, 2019. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lisa Walsh allowed Lyle to travel back home to Mexico, while Hernandez was unresponsive at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.
Four days after the punch, Hernandez, 63, died. Lyle flew back to Miami and his defense attorneys argued it was a case of self-defense. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alan Fine disagreed.
During the trial, Lyle’s defense argued it was a case about “fear.” The prosecution said it was about “anger.”
“That punch Mr. Lyle did actually caused the victim to fall back, to hit his head and to crack open his skull, and ultimately those injuries caused his death,” Assistant State Attorney Gabriela Alfaro said in court during the trial.
It took less than five hours of deliberation for the jury to side with the prosecution. Lyle was awaiting sentencing when his defense filed the motion for a new trial.
If Tinkler Mendez denies the motion for a new trial, she will have to consider whether or not to include his time on house arrest as part of a sentence that could range from nine to 15 years in prison.
Tinkler Mendez was set to announce her ruling at 8:45 a.m., on Dec. 12.
Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Wayne Roustan contributed to this report.