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THE STUART NEWS


Father admits to telling son to get knife
Byline:
   Derek Simmonsen staff writer

FORT PIERCE -- Edward Munao admits he told his 6-year-old son to go in the kitchen and grab a knife. But it was fear for his son's life, not a desire to see the boy's mother dead, that made him say those words, he told a jury on Wednesday.

Munao is on trial on charges of solicitation to commit murder and child abuse after allegedly telling the boy to get a knife and kill his mother during a November 2003 phone call. Both sides rested Wednesday and closing arguments will be delivered today.

Munao, 39, of Stuart, said he frequently talked to his son on the phone in the years after splitting up with the boy's mother, Jodi Walsh, who lived in Port St. Lucie and had custody of their two children. While Walsh and other witnesses testified the boy had violent temper tantrums, Munao said the child never behaved that way in his presence.

On Nov. 17, 2003, Munao said his son called him on the phone screaming hysterically and crying for help. Thinking the boy was in real danger, Munao said he told him to get a knife to defend himself.

"I was panicking. I was scared for his life," he said.

He never thought the child would actually get a knife and kill Walsh, Munao said. He did think Walsh could harm the boy, though, and called the state Department of Children & Families twice in 2003 after he said he learned Walsh became physical with the boy.

Munao disputed Walsh's testimony, saying he never told his son to hit his mother, did not curse in front of the child or disparage Walsh in

front of him and was mostly unaware of the child's more violent outbursts.

During a heated cross-examination, Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl wrote the words "defendant's lies" on a marker board and checked off what he said were inconsistencies between Munao's testimony and his previous statements.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors played a tape that captured a conversation between the boy and his father that occurred Nov. 18, 2003, the day after Munao allegedly made the comments.

"What did I tell you to do? Go in the kitchen," Munao was heard saying. "Want me to do it for you?"

The boy testified via videotape, saying he called his father looking for "a solution" after his mother told him he couldn't watch television on Nov. 17. That was when his father told him to get a knife and kill his mother, he said.

Prosecutors have argued Munao frequently berated Walsh in front of the boy and encouraged him to hit her, which culminated in his asking the child to commit murder.

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