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FT. PIERCE TRIBUNE
May 19th 2005


Father gets 10 years for abuse
Byline:
   Derek Simmonsen staff writer

FORT PIERCE -- Calling him narcissistic and a pitiful excuse for a father, a judge sentenced Edward Munao to 10 years in prison Wednesday for trying to get his 6-year-old son to stab his mother. Munao, 39, of Stuart, was found guilty in April of child abuse and solicitation to commit aggravated battery after telling his son to get a knife and stab his mother during a November 2003 phone call. Circuit Judge Gary Sweet gave him the maximum possible sentence on both counts -- five years -- and ordered the terms be served back to back.

"You're someone who thinks it's all about you," Sweet told Munao. "You're indifferent to the needs of others."

Munao's ex-girlfriend Jodi Walsh testified during the hearing, criticizing the legal system for how it handled the case and telling Sweet there was a lot of information jurors did not get to hear. She asked for psychiatric help to accompany any punishment Munao received.

"Each year the emotional abuse would worsen," she said. "Munao does not want to take responsibility for his own actions against others."

Several family members spoke on Munao's behalf during the hearing, including his mother, Betty Munao, and a sister. They told the judge he was a caring, loving father and criticized Walsh's portrayal of him as an abusive, dangerous man.

"She never thought my son meant to kill her," Betty Munao said of Walsh.

Defense attorney Jerome Stone Jr. had argued Munao should receive a lighter sentence and be given a chance to rehabilitate himself. Stone was surprised by the judge's decision, and Munao was disappointed in the outcome, he said.

They will review the trial notes to see whether there is room for appeal, Stone said.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl, who prosecuted Munao, said he was pleased the judge addressed the damage Munao had inflicted on Walsh's relationship with her son.

"That was one of the most compelling sentencing speeches I've heard a judge give," Bakkedahl said.

During the trial, prosecutors said Munao encouraged the boy to hit and insult his mother, culminating in the phone call where he asked the boy to use a knife on her. The defense countered by saying all of the negative information about Munao came from only one source: Walsh.

Munao was acquitted during the trial of a more serious charge of solicitation to commit first-degree murder in connection with the same incident. Prosecutors said Wednesday they would drop a charge of solicitation to commit second-degree murder against Munao, a charge the jury deadlocked on in April.

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