MIAMI (CBS4) – A student charged with stabbing a classmate Tuesday at Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes says he acted in self-defense.
“He was choking me, and I couldn’t breathe and I obviously was concerned for my life,” said 18 year-old Frank Acosta in a Thursday interview with CBS4’s Gary Nelson.
Mauricio Padron, 17, was stabbed or cut several times Tuesday and was air-rescued to Jackson Memorial Hospital with what proved to be minor wounds. He was released from the hospital the next day.
Acosta was charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds and with aggravated battery.
Acosta said the incident began with a verbal confrontation with Padron in the school cafeteria over who would get a carton of orange juice. He said Padron became enraged and was later lying in wait for him in a school stairwell.
“He was there, shirtless, with some friends,” Acosta said. “He hit me in the head and I fell to the ground.”
Acosta, with a thin, slight build, was set upon by the much larger Padron. A Facebook photo of a shirtless Padron reveals a muscled physique like that of a linebacker.
“He grabbed me by the neck,” Acosta said, pointing to bruises about his neck consistent with having been throttled. “I couldn’t breathe, and I obviously was concerned for my life.”
Acosta said he reached for a tiny pen knife, scarcely two inches long, that he kept on his key ring.
“I didn’t want to do it, but I thought he was going to kill me,” Acosta said.
Acosta said he knew Padron from seeing him around campus and that the two had not previously sparred.
In his report on the incident, Schools Detective Steven Hadley wrote that video surveillance and witness accounts corroborated that Padron was “clearly the aggressor.”
Acosta’s attorney said the arrest report does not support the aggravated battery charge against his client.
“The law in Florida is clear that you have an absolute right to defend yourself,” said attorney Frank Gaviria. “The only thing that Mr. Acosta did was protect himself, and he should not be charged with aggravated battery.”
The attorney said it’s also not clear that the tiny pen knife Acosta was carrying would even qualify as a weapon.
On the day of the incident, schools Police Chief Charles Hurley said both students appeared “culpable” in the incident and that Padron might face a charge of some sort as well.