The manslaughter trial of Mexican telenovela actor Pablo Lyle began in a Miami courtroom on Friday, more than three years after the road rage incident at the center of the case. Lyle, 35, is accused of punching and killing Juan Ricardo Hernandez, 63, during a March 2019 road rage confrontation. Lyle's attorney claimed the act was self-defense.
Henandez confronted Lyle and his brother-in-law, Lucas Delfino, after they cut him off on their way to Miami International Airport, according to police. Hernandez fell to the ground during the confrontation, and Lyle's family continued to the airport. Lyle was arrested and Hernandez died four days later from the punch. In August 2019, Lyle's legal team argued that the actor acted within his rights according to Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, but the judge rejected that defense.
After many delays, jury selection for the trial began last week, and opening statements were made on Friday, reports WSNV. Bruce Lehr, Lyle's defense attorney, told the jury there was road rage in the incident, but not instigated by Lyle. "Mr. Hernandez followed the car, got behind, got out of his car, and was banging on that window, scaring the adults and the three kids," Lehr said.
State prosecutors also called their first witnesses to the stand, including responding officers and a witness, Jessica Rocha. She said she saw Lyle from her car before the incident began. "As I saw him past my window, the defendant, I saw that he started clenching his fists as he was passing my window, and then he immediately punched [Hernandez]," Rocha testified. She also claimed to have heard Hernandez pleading for his life. Her car is seen several feet away from Lyle and Hernandez in surveillance footage.
During cross-examination, Lehr said there were inconsistencies with Rocha's statement. He asked her if she really witnessed Lyle punch Hernandez. "All of these things I keep asking you about, and I say, 'Are you really sure of it, as sure as you heard Mr. Hernandez say, 'Please don't hit me?' Right?" Lehr asked. "Correct," Rocha replied. Rocha also admitted that some of the points from her prior statements have turned out to be wrong.
If convicted, Lyle faces up to 15 years in prison. The trial was expected to continue this week, but there could be delays because of Hurricane Ian. Miami-Dade Courts already announced plans to close courts on Wednesday and Thursday. Lyle's credits include Mi adorable maldición, La sombra del pasado, and Cachito de cielo. He also starred in the 2019 Netflix series Yankee.