MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twelve Miami-Dade jurors handed down a guilty verdict to a South Florida man accused of killing his ex-wife’s new husband in front of their children.
After two days of deliberations, Cristobal Palacio was found to be guilty of second degree murder and two counts of child abuse.
Palacio was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Paul Winter, but the jury found him to be guilty of the lesser charge.
The conviction carries a 21 year to life sentence in prison.
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.