MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade jury started deliberating Thursday in the trial of a South Florida man accused of killing his ex-wife’s new husband in front of their children.
Cristobal Palacio is charged with first degree murder in the death of Paul Winter.
Palacio, who testified in his own defense Wednesday, told jurors that Winter had threatened him in the past, and that he kept the gun on him for protection.
Palacio denied the notion that he planned to shoot Winter.
“Did you go out of the house that night to kill Paul Winter,” his attorney asked.
“No,” replied Palacio.
Did you go out of the house that night to hurt anyone? To scare anyone?” asked his attorney.
“No,” he replied again. “I had the gun to feel safe.”
Palacio got teary eyed when questioning wrapped up, and replied “no” to the question his attorney asked about him feeling joy that Winter was dead.
Last week, prosecutors presented its case and put Palacio’s daughter and ex-wife on the stand.
Jennifer Winter testified she and her husband Paul were dropping off her son and daughter for a court appointed visit at Cristobal Palacio’s home in October 2008 when Palacio picked up a gun and fired several shots.
Paul Winter was hit multiple times.
“He walked up to my husband after he was laying face down and he shot him more in the back,” Winter said with tears in her eyes. “After he was already dead, he shot him more in the back.”
Things heated up on cross examination after Palacio’s attorney questioned why she stuck around with her kids in the car knowing Palacio was upset and threatening violence.
“Hindsight is 20/20,” she replied. “If I knew my husband was going to be murdered by your client that day, I promise you, we would’ve left.”
Palacio’s 10-year-old daughter also testified that her father wanted her to lie about being abused by her stepfather. She also told the jury that Palacio would punish her if she didn’t say what he wanted her to say.
Palacio has maintained he shot Winter in self defense and claimed he felt threatened because he claims to have seen Winter reach for something he thought was a weapon. Winter was unarmed and a Miami-Dade judge refused to dismiss the case based on the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.
**When asked if there was enough reasonable doubt, Defense Attorney Michael Walsh replied “I hope they have no doubt that he’s innocent, that Paul Winter attacked him unprovoked and Mr. Palacio had no choice but to defend himself.”
A 1st degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence without parole. A 2nd degree murder conviction carries 21 years to life in prison, and a manslaughter with a weapon conviction could carry up to 15 years behind bars.
The jury will resume deliberation Friday at 10 a.m.