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Man who killed neighbor won't be charged

Putnam County grand jury finds fatal shooting was in self defense

Photo of Keith Gravitz inset in Putnam County Sheriff's Office homicide report.
Photo of Keith Gravitz inset in Putnam County Sheriff's Office homicide report.

PALATKA, Fla. – After more than two days of deliberations, a Putnam County grand jury has declined to prosecute a man for killing a father of two during an argument just over a month ago.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said James Cuneo admitted to shooting the 29-year-old Keith Gravitz during an argument on Sept. 5.

The victim's family said they are disappointed that the man who killed their loved one will not face charges.

Cuneo told investigators he acted in self-defense after Gravitz came onto his property, but Gravitz's family said he was invited onto the property and was unarmed.

News4Jax has uncovered police records and witness testimony that gives insight into how they may have reached that decision.

According to the report, there had been tension between these two men and others days before the shooting over ATVs riding in the neighborhood. Investigators were told neighbors expressed concern that things could escalate, and they did.

The night Gravitz died was far from a calm one on his Putnam County street.

Records show a neighbor, Chet Barr, called the Putnam County Sheriff's Office saying Gravitz's brother, Joseph, attacked him, so he went to Cuneo's house and wanted deputies to come there immediately.

Barr told investigators that as he waited for deputies several men, including Keith Gravitz, came to the house and he heard Cuneo tell the men he was armed and to get off his property.

Cuneo told detectives that three men argued with him while at least one other appeared to be low-crawling near the road and he was afraid of being ambushed.
He told investigators that the men began to surround him, so he fired a "warning shot." 

At that point Cuneo said Gravitz pushed him, causing him to stumble. That's when he fired a shot from the hip, striking Gravitz in the chest.

Cuneo says he tried to help him, but family pushed him away. Gravitz died shortly after.

Cuneo's attorney, Gary Wood, said his client realizes the seriousness of what happened, but was defending himself.

"It was clearly the right decision the grand jury made to not indict Mr. Cuneo. He was clearly entitled to defend himself and use deadly force at that time under Florida's stand your ground law," Wood said in a statement. "At the time of the shooting Mr. Cuneo was under attack from four people who had come onto his property without permission."

Cuneo's attorney says he still hasn't moved back into his house because he is concerned for his safety.

The Gravitz family was very unhappy to learn Cuneo will not be prosecuted.

Contrary to other witness accounts, Gravitz wife, Amy, said she was right next to her husband when Cuneo shot him. Both Amy Gravitz and her son told investigators there was no argument and that he was shot for no reason.

Gravitz family said in a statement:

"The obvious fact that an unarmed man was shot and killed seems to have been lost in the legal process. We will continue our efforts to not only seek justice but to rectify significant issues of perceived favoritism and potential impropriety. There is evidence showing the killer knew of the decision days in advance and this gives the appearance that murder in Putnam County is permissible."

The Gravitz family said they will not stop efforts to get justice for his death.