89ºF

Wife of man killed by neighbor wants case reopened

Putnam County grand jury found fatal shooting was in self defense

PALATKA, Fla. – The widow of a Putnam County man who was shot and killed by one of his neighbors in September 2015 says she wants the case reopened.

A Putnam County grand jury declined to prosecute James Cuneo for killing 29-year-old Keith Gravitz during an argument on Cuneo’s property on Sept. 5, 2015.

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.

Gravitz’s wife, Amy, said she believes there is evidence that shows her husband’s killing was premeditated. She refutes much of what is in the lengthy police report about the fatal shooting, including that Cuneo fired a warning shot before killing her husband.

After the grand jury decided not to prosecute Cuneo, Amy Gravitz hired a private investigator. She and the PI said that 911 calls the night of the shooting tell a different story than the one in the police report.

“I want the sergeant here. I want the lieutenant here. I want deputies here now,” a man told the 911 dispatcher. “We've had problems with these people. They're coming in my yard. I'm fixing to go out and shoot them. You need to get people here now.”

According to the police report, there had been tension between the two men and others days before the shooting over ATVs being ridden in the neighborhood. Investigators were told neighbors expressed concern that the situation could escalate, and it did.

On the night Gravitz died, 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 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 said he tried to help Gravitz, but family pushed him away. Gravitz died shortly after.

But Amy Gravitz and her PI believe a 911 recording shows the killing of her husband was premeditated  and not self-defense.

They said that in the call, someone can be heard in the background saying, “Get in the house. I'm going to kill him.”

But the State Attorney’s Office said the grand jury made its decision, and the case is closed, something Amy Gravitz wants to change.

“I plan to petition the judge to get a copy of what evidence was actually put in front of the grand jury to further the investigation, and I guess possibly go to the governor and try to get a special prosecutor assigned to my husband's case,” she said.

Amy Gravitz said becoming a widow is the most difficult thing she’s ever been through.

“He was a good man. He was a hard worker,” she said. “He left all these kids. We had kids around our feet the whole time when we were together.”

Amy Gravitz said she is going to continue to fight for justice for her husband. Not long after her husband’s death, she moved away from Putnam County. She said being there was just too difficult.