Florida man Armando Baptista stands trial for manslaughter in the 2014 stabbing death of Fakhradeen Knight that took place after a house party. The victim was a father of four, with a fifth on the way.
Authorities based their case on the account from Knight’s girlfriend Wendy Gembolis. According to the arrest report obtained by Law&Crime, she told cops they had left a party, and were blocked at a stop sign by a vehicle. Knight honked but it didn’t move, she said. In her account, he stepped out and a man from the other vehicle stepped out to meet him. Knight offered an apparent handshake, but the other man threw a punch, she said.
She recalled that Knight yelled, “He has a knife.” The situation allegedly escalated with Baptista and co-defendant Demetrius Elder attacking him. The victim was stabbed five times, including once fatally in the heart, police said.
Baptista, the passenger of the vehicle, is expected to argue self-defense.
“Mr. Knight got out of his car because it was his intent to do harm to my client,” his attorney Madsen Marcellus said in a 2014 report from The Sun Sentinel. “It was never a benign attempt to shake his hand,” he said. “I feel for Mr. Knight’s family, but my client was defending himself.”
Then again, Elder argued self-defense too. Prosecutors failed to win a guilty verdict on manslaughter, but jurors did find him guilty of the lesser crime of culpable negligence.
The lawyer said that Knight smashed a bottle on Baptista’s head, but police claimed not to find any injuries there, only a small cut on the lower lip, and a small abrasion to his elbow.
[Image of the Broward County Central Courthouse via MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP/Getty Images]