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FT. PIERCE TRIBUNE
April 2005


Jurors find Stuart man guilty of urging son, 6, to harm ex-wife
Byline:
   Derek Simmonsen staff writer

FORT PIERCE -- Jurors didn't believe Edward Munao wanted his 6-year-old son to kill his mother, but they found Thursday he did want the boy to seriously harm her. Munao, 39, of Stuart was accused of telling his son to go in the kitchen, get a knife and kill his mother during a November 2003 phone call. He was found guilty Thursday of solicitation to commit aggravated battery and child abuse in connection with the incident.

The more-serious charges -- solicitation to commit first- and second-degree murder -- turned out differently. The jury found him not guilty of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and could not reach a decision on second-degree murder after about five hours of deliberations.

"The verdict was a just verdict," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl. "We respect the jury's verdict."

The outcome came with mixed feelings for the boy's mother, Jodi Walsh, he said. Munao and Walsh split up in 1999 and she lives in Port St. Lucie with their two children.

"She does not take any pleasure in this," he said. "To the extent that it helps her child, she's pleased."

Defense attorney Jerome Stone Jr. said he was pleased the jury did not believe all of the prosecution's case, a sentiment echoed by attorney Linda Capobianco.

"No solicitation of murder. Just wasn't there. He wouldn't do that to his child," she said.

Munao had "mixed emotions" as to the verdict, as he never intended for the child to harm his mother, Stone said. He was relieved there is some conclusion to the case, and hopefully begin to move on with his life, Capobianco said.

During his closing statement, Bakkedahl said Munao often encouraged his son to hit and insult his mother, which exacerbated the child's already violent behavior. That encouragement culminated in the November phone call.

"He created a monster," Bakkedahl said. "(The boy) was to be this man's instrument of the crime. Pick up a knife and stab your mother."

Capobianco and Stone cast doubt on the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses, saying all of the negative information about Munao came from only one source: Walsh.

"It's not just saying the words. Words are not enough," Capobianco said. "There's no evidence he did anything but love his children."

Prosecutors will not re-try Munao on the solicitation to commit second-degree murder charge, Bakkedahl said.

 

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