Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutor Reverses Decision to Drop Charges Eyewitness Interview Convinces Shorstein

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutor Reverses Decision to Drop Charges Eyewitness Interview Convinces Shorstein

Article excerpt

State Attorney Harry Shorstein yesterday reversed his office's

decision to drop charges against two men in the fatal beating of

a 78-year-old Jacksonville man.

Shorstein said the original choice was based on "inaccurate and

incomplete" information provided by one of his prosecutors.

In a prepared statement, Shorstein said he decided to recharge

Max Michael Pruett, 22, and Daniel Butler, 19, in the death of

David Sembach Sr. after he interviewed eyewitness Milton Ricks.

Pruett was arrested yesterday. Butler has not been brought in.

Ricks' account led Assistant State Attorney Jim Hardee to

conclude that Sembach, the father of an assistant city police

chief, was the aggressor in a June 16 traffic altercation

involving Pruett and Butler. Pruett lived next door to Sembach.

Prosecutors initially said Pruett acted in self-defense and

Butler wasn't involved. Shorstein announced during a June 25

news conference the charges were being dropped.

But Shorstein said he interviewed Ricks after the charges were

dropped, and, "I came to the conclusion that Mr. Sembach Sr. was

not the aggressor," according to the statement.

"That [original] information has proven to be inaccurate and

incomplete, for which I take full responsibility," the statement

said.

Hardee could not be reached to comment.

Ricks, 71, said the altercation on East Eve Drive began when

Sembach almost accidentally hit Pruett and Butler with his car.

Ricks said he saw the near accident from a nearby home, where he

was sealing the roof.

Ricks said the three exchanged words and Pruett and Butler

walked off. He said Sembach got out of his car, called after

them and re-ignited the confrontation. The group came together

again and Butler was seen charging Sembach with a mailbox and

post. Butler threw the mailbox and post, but Ricks was unclear

if it struck Sembach.

Ricks said he saw Pruett grab Sembach. Sembach fell and broke

his hip. …

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