MIAMI – A Miami-Dade judge sentenced Pablo Lyle on Friday to five years in prison minus time served, and eight years of probation, after a jury convicted him of manslaughter in October.
The Mexican actor surrendered to police officers in 2019 after a 63-year-old Cuban man who he had punched during a road rage incident in Miami died in the hospital.
Lyle, 36, said during the sentencing hearing that he did not intend to cause the death of Juan Ricardo Hernandez, who was the first to get out of his car to hit the window of the car Lyle was in with his family.
“I truly thought I was protecting my family,” Lyle said.
Lyle was out on house arrest when the trial began on Sept. 23, 2022. After the jury convicted him on Oct. 4, 2022, Lyle’s relatives were in tears when corrections officers handcuffed him and took him into custody. As of Friday evening, Lyle had already served three months and nearly 30 days.
“It hunts me when I go to bed and it’s still there when I wake up,” Lyle said. “I never wanted anything like this to happen.”
The state guideline’s maximum sentence is 15 years and the minimum is nine. Before announcing her sentence would be less than the guidelines, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez listened to members of Hernandez’s family, prosecutors, Lyle, and his defense attorney.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions that I have made,” Tinkler Mendez said adding that nobody was going to be satisfied with her sentence.
Lyle will also be required to perform 500 hours of community service and complete anger management classes. Florida eliminated parole for most offenses in 1983. Inmates are required to serve 85% of each sentence imposed.
“The conviction is unfair and we hope it will be reversed on appeal, but the sentence was fair,” Attorney Phil Reizenstein, who represents Lyle, said after the sentencing.
Assistant State Attorney Shawn Ethan Abuhoff said Lyle made a “conscious decision” to punch Hernandez and flee before witnesses and surveillance video helped detectives to identify him.
“There need to be repercussions for his actions,” Abuhoff said.
Attorney Bruce Lehr, who represented Lyle, said “instinct and not intent” prompted Lyle to punch Hernandez, who was the “provoker of the incident” and “the initiator.”
Lehr also said that “a three-second adrenaline-filled mistake” doesn’t make Lyle a criminal. Lehr also said prosecutors said Lyle couldn’t get probation because there was a possibility that he could get deported back to Mexico, but he disagreed.
Lehr said Lyle had wanted to apologize to the Hernandez family for years.
“I am sorry,” Lyle said during his statement in court. “I am so very sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
Hernandez’s son Juan Hernandez Jr. said he and his family had been waiting for four “very difficult” years for the sentencing. Abuhoff played videos of Hernandez’s 92-year-old mother and a niece, who both live in Cuba, saying that they want justice to be served.
“My father was a man who was in good health. I never thought this would happen to my father,” Juan Hernandez Jr. said adding that he wanted the maximum penalty for Lyle.
Mercedes Arce said she had been in a relationship with Hernandez for four years after they met at work, and he would drive her everywhere. She said they had plans to get married before he died and travel to Cuba so she could meet his mother.
Arce said she had never seen Hernandez behave the way he did before the tragedy.
“I don’t know what got into him; I think it was the devil,” Arce said before asking the judge for the maximum sentence.
THE CRIME: MARCH 2019
Lyle’s brother-in-law, Lucas Del Fino, was driving Lyle and his family to Miami International Airport on March 31, 2019, police said. When Del Fino took the wrong exit, he cut off Hernandez in his rush to get to a light and to make a U-turn, according to police.
Hernandez got out of his car near the intersection of Northwest 27th Avenue and 14th Street and used his fist to hit Del Fino’s driver’s side window in protest, and Del Fino got out of the car, according to police.
“We were very close to each other. We were both yelling at each other,” Del Fino said during his testimony in court. “I was yelling at him, ‘Don’t touch my car! Don’t you bang on my car!’ I said that in Spanish.”
Del Fino forgot to put the car in Park, so when it began to move toward the street, Lehr said Lyle, who was a front-seat passenger, tried to stop it and when he couldn’t, he got out of the car. Surveillance video shows Del Fino getting back in the car to stop the car from rolling into the street.
Lyle then delivered a knock-out punch, and Hernandez fell down and suffered a head injury, police said. Lyle got back in the car and Del Fino drove away and dropped him and his family off at MIA. Miami Fire Rescue personnel took Hernandez to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he later died.
“This was instinctive, a father trying to protect his kids,” Lehr said.
Lyle didn’t board the plane because Del Fino called him to tell him police officers were at his door, prosecutors said. Abuhoff asked for the maximum penalty.
Before Hernandez’s death, Lyle was among People en Español’s 50 Most Beautiful in entertainment. He starred in several soap operas including “Mi Adorable Maldición,” “La Sombra Del Pasado” and “Corazón Que Miente,” and he played Malcolm Moriarty in “Yankee,” a 2019 series on Netflix.
Watch the video of Lyle’s apology to the Hernandez’s family
Lyle’s wife Ana Araujo delivers her statement
Victim’s relatives deliver statements
Victim’s partner asks the judge for the maximum penalty
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