Miami: A Mexican soap opera actor was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday after a man he's accused of punching in a road rage confrontation died.
Pablo Lyle appeared at his arraignment before 11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Alan Fine and pleaded not guilty. The 32-year-old star will continue to be under house arrest in Miami.
Prosecutors say Lyle punched 63-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez in a road rage confrontation on March 31. He initially faced only a battery charge, but Hernandez later died in a hospital.
Defence attorney Philip Reizenstein said his client was trying to protect his family when Hernandez assaulted them. He berated prosecutors for filing charges without interviewing Lyle's wife and brother-in-law, who were in the car.
"The state attorney's office filed charges without speaking to the driver, his brother-in-law, who was the person who was first assaulted by the aggressor in this case," Reizenstein said. "I find that incomprehensible. Why don't they want to hear from people who saw what happened?"
According to Lyle's account in the arrest affidavit, Hernandez got out of his car at a stoplight to protest Lyle's brother-in-law cutting him off in traffic. Authorities did not release the name of his brother-in-law.
The affidavit says Hernandez walked up to the driver's side window, pounded on it with an open hand and Lyle's brother-in-law got out and said, "Don't bang on my window."
Moment caught on tape
Once the brother-in-law saw his car rolling toward the intersection, he ran back to it and stopped it. The brother-in-law told detectives he didn't see the physical confrontation.
But a video appears to show Lyle jump out of the car and run nine steps back to Hernandez, who is almost to the open door of his car. Hernandez turns to face Lyle and takes a punch in the head before collapsing.
The actor travelled back to Mexico after his first arrest on battery charges but then returned to Miami, because he was summoned to court after Hernandez died in the hospital.
Lyle starred in the soap opera "Mi Adorable Maldicion," Spanish for "My Lovely Curse." He was a rising star in Mexico, appearing earlier this year in a movie that was successful in the country's box office. He was set to start filming his second film the week he was arrested but was fired from the movie project after his legal troubles.
On Wednesday, assistant state attorney Genevieve Valle tried to raise Lyle's bond set last month at $50,000, but the judge decided the circumstances have not changed.
Lyle's defence attorneys said they will review his bond conditions soon to release him from house arrest. Reizenstein clarified he was here on a tourist visa making it hard to show community ties, a standard condition to release a defendant on bond.
If convicted of manslaughter, Lyle could face up to 15 years in prison.