A Mexican soap opera star was sentenced to five years in prison, below the sentencing guideline, after a judge determined he had remorse for killing a man during a road rage incident.
“Nobody here is going to be satisfied,” Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez said on Friday, according to NBC Miami. “Nobody here is going to forget the pain that’s been caused.”
Pablo Daniel Lyle, 36, was convicted in October of manslaughter because prosecutors said he punched victim Juan Ricardo Hernández, 63, in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.
The defense maintained that the victim instigated the confrontation by getting out of his car and pounding on the window of the actor’s vehicle at an intersection on March 31, 2019, but prosecutors said that Hernández was actually walking toward his car and away from Lyle when the punch happened and that witnesses said he had his hands up in a defensive position.
Sentencing guidelines were 9 to 15 years in prison. Lyle must also serve eight years of probation, perform 500 hours of community service, and attend anger management classes.
“I can only imagine the pain of losing a loved one, someone that important, especially in a situation like this,” Lyle reportedly said, addressing the 63-year-old’s family in court. “I think about it every day. I pray that this day will bring you closure and that whatever happens today you can leave this courtroom with grace in your hearts.”
“He was such a joyful person, very caring to everyone,” the victim’s son Juan Ricardo Hernandez Jr. said, translated from Spanish, according to NBC Miami. “A beautiful person, there are no words to describe who my father was.”
Speaking to Law&Crime on Monday, Lyle’s attorney Phil Reizenstein called it an “Unjust conviction. Fair sentence.”
Maintaining that he had a respectful disagreement with the judge on the law, Reizenstein said the defense was not allowed to bring forward evidence of Hernández getting into a fight two hours prior with someone who struck his car. In the Lyle incident, the fight started because Hernández was cut off in traffic, the attorney said, arguing the actor was defending his family.
Reizenstein praised the judge for giving a sentence below the guidelines, saying she took the mitigation evidence into proper account. The attorney maintained his client is innocent, and they are appealing the conviction.
Lyle’s attorney also accused prosecutors of seeking a “trial tax.” In a prior plea negotiation, prosecutors allegedly said they were fine with no jail time for Lyle, but then backed off because Hernández’s family opposed it, Reizenstein told Law&Crime. There was another plea offer during jury deliberations at trial, and prosecutors allegedly said they would have been happy with a year in prison, Reizenstein said. But at trial, they sought 15 years in prison.
“It was a trial tax, pure and simple,” he added.
Lissette Valdes-Valle, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, told Law&Crime that no assistant state attorney offered a potential plea deal before trial.
“Mr. Lyle’s attorneys had previously informed the prosecutor that their client would not accept any plea that included incarceration,” she wrote in an email. “It was the defense who made a proposal that included no jail time which was presented to next of kin and rejected by them.”
During jury deliberations, Lyle’s attorneys approached the prosecutor with a plea offer of one year in prison followed by probation, she said.
“The next of kin of Juan Hernandez, the deceased victim, rejected the offer after having been subjected to the entirety of the trial,” she wrote. “At sentencing the State requested the maximum sentence in conformity with the wishes of the family.”
Update: We added a response from prosecutors.
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