No murder charge in racially fueled road rage incident
By Paula McMahon | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
January 17, 2008
No murder charges will be filed in a racially motivated road rage incident last month that left one of the aggressors dead at the hands of the victim, Broward prosecutors said Wednesday.
Broward Sheriff's detectives initially arrested Steven Lonzisero, 43, of Cooper City, on a charge of felony murder
. He is one of two white men who investigators say confronted a black driver on Dec. 13 in Deerfield Beach, shouting racial slurs and trying to drag him from his vehicle.
Hygens Labidou, 49, of Wellington, pulled a gun and shot his two attackers, police said. Lonzisero survived, but his accomplice, Edward Borowsky, 28, of Cooper City, died four days later.
Investigators determined that Labidou, who has a concealed weapons permit, acted in self-defense and faces no legal jeopardy. They arrested Lonzisero for felony murder under a state law that says partners-in-crime can face murder charges if a death occurs while they are committing certain felonies — even if they didn't fire the fatal shot.
But Broward homicide prosecutors said Wednesday that the circumstances surrounding the death do not meet the legal requirements for a murder case. Instead, they said Lonzisero will be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
. If convicted, he could face about 15 years in prison.
"The facts don't support a homicide charge against Lonzisero," said homicide prosecutor Deborah Zimet, who made the decision. "The circumstances in this particular case are just not covered by our homicide laws."
To file a felony murder charge, prosecutors would have to be able to prove either that Labidou, the road rage victim, was committing one of several felonies specified in state law or that Lonzisero was committing one of several other felonies specified in a different state law. Zimet said Labidou's actions were legally justified and prosecutors could not meet the legal requirements of either statute.
The afternoon incident started when Lonzisero and Borowsky objected to Labidou's driving and they blocked in his truck near Powerline and Green roads. The two men banged on Labidou's truck and shouted "N-----, get out of the truck," according to police reports. Borowsky wielded a knife and Lonzisero kicked the truck door aggressively and ordered Labidou out, witnesses told detectives.
Prosecutors will file the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge against Lonzisero in the next few days. Lonzisero, who was on federal probation, is being held without bond at the Broward County Jail. Because of his arrest, federal prosecutors have accused him of violating his federal probation.
In June 2005, Lonzisero was sentenced to time served, one year of house arrest and two years of federal probation for possessing and affecting commerce in firearms.