By Carey Codd

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BROWARD (CBSMiami) – A Broward County jury found a man innocent of second degree murder on Monday, saying he killed in self-defense.

The accused, Anthony Dippolito, is now a free man. After winning his freedom and leaving jail for the first time in 30 months, Dippolito wanted to touch nature.

“The first thing I did when I walked out of the courtroom was walk over and touch a tree,” he told CBS4’s Carey Codd in an exclusive interview.

He can touch all the trees he wants now, but Dippolito is still coming to terms with what happened the night of the fight between him and the new boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend that led to his arrest.

Dippolito said he went to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment to drop off some of her stuff in the wee hours of the morning.

“It was probably not the wisest decision that I ever made,” he said.

But he said he and the woman were still on good terms.

“I had spent time there 24 hours prior to this. She had cooked me dinner,” he said.

Dippolito said the woman’s new boyfriend confronted him as soon as he knocked on the door.

“He was extremely aggressive. There was no time to react,” he told Codd.

Dippolito said the guy he was fighting with punched him in the head and had him pinned against a railing. He said he feared he might get thrown to the ground below and he knew he had to fight back.

“Whatever it takes at that point, you gotta do what you gotta do to protect yourself and that’s what I did. I did nothing more than defend myself,” he explained.

Dippolito said he threw several punches at Attie, to get away from him and left.

Eric Schwartzreich is Dippolito’s attorney.

“It’s sad that Mr. Attie, and it’s awful, lost his life,” Schwartzreich said. “But legally, and justifiably, people are allowed to defend themselves.”

Dippolito said he didn’t even know that Ronald Attie died at the apartment until hours after Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives questioned him.

He told CBS4 News that even though he’s free, he wishes that Attie had lived.

“This is something that I have to live with the rest of life. Whether or not I was legally in the right to do what I did, it still does not change the fact that a person has passed away. That’s hard to live with,” he said.


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