ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Crucial surveillance video of the May 2021 shooting death of Adam Amoia continued to be the focus of attention Wednesday in a hearing to determine whether a manslaughter charge should be dropped in the case.
Attorneys for Luis Casado, 31, are claiming a “stand-your-ground” defense in the deadly shooting outside the Dos Gatos bar in Downtown St. Augustine, which is now closed.
The shooting was captured on surveillance video from the bar and neighboring businesses, and in court Tuesday and Wednesday, video from before, during and after the moment Casado shot and killed Amoia was shown.
On Tuesday video showed bars and restaurants beginning to close, and Casado is seen walking out of the Dos Gatos bar, then seen standing and talking to another man, identified as Amoia, who was standing with friends.
A couple of minutes later, Casado is seen closer to Amoia and Amoia’s friends. Next, Amoia’s friend, identified as Felix Ramos Santiago, gets Casado’s attention. Amoia is still standing against the wall. Casado and Santiago are seen laughing with each other.
The defense spent the morning Wednesday breaking down video from outside the bar frame by frame.
Santiago is heard screaming on an officer’s body cam. He was supposed to testify in court Wednesday, but didn’t due to technical issues.
The defense called a use-of-force expert, Dr. Roy Bedard, who analyzed the video and explains human factors. He said the threat begins with the men standing in the video, who appeared to be focused on Casado.
Attorney: “Does it look like bullying?”
Bedard: “I think bullying doesn’t end in middle school, picking on someone they think they can handle, this could be going on here, but can’t say for certain.”
Things escalate in the video after Amoia tries to turn Casado around. Bedard says Casado didn’t make any threatening gestures, but does signal that he does not want to fight.
Bedard: “He puts his hands up.”
In cross-examination, the state pointed out that no one knows what Casado thought of the men in the video.
Prosecutor: “Some people in the group never moved.”
Bedard: “Yes, but Casado couldn’t stand on that because he didn’t know what they would do.”
Casado is given less than a second to walk away before the first blow. Then Amoia hits him again, again and again until Casado pulls his gun and shoots seven times.
Attorney: “Could Casado have stopped firing when Amoia turned around?”
Bedard said it happens often and that the mind can’t understand there’s no longer a threat.
The prosecutor didn’t revisit this statement in his cross-examination.
Instead, he said the defense opened the door with implications of what Casado was thinking, saying that no one knows what Casado thought, but that his actions are clear on the video.
Casado’s stand-your-ground petition said the conversation “was of no real significance and certainly nothing threatening.”
The petition says that Amoia and Santiago “began to suddenly and in concert violently attack” Casado “for no apparent reason.”
The petition says that “Amoia, drunk and leaning on the wall, suddenly became aggressive and insisted that Mr. Casado leave immediately,” even though Casado “did nothing to incite rudeness or violence.”
The petition says that before Casado had a chance to “make sense of Mr. Amoia’s bizarre request,” Amoia shoved him, then hit him in the face, knocking off his glasses, rendering Casado legally blind.
It states Santiago then punched Casado and Amoia and followed that by hitting Casado four more times in the face when Casado “found himself forced up against a wall.”
The stand-your-ground petition points out the sequence took 15 seconds, and Casado’s lawyer notes that his client has no prior criminal history, but that both Amoia and Santiago do.
Evidence revealed both men had been drinking leading up to the shooting.
Dr. James Fulcher, the chief medical examiner for District 7, said he determined Amoia had alcohol and hydrocodone in his system. Amoia’s blood alcohol concentration level was .266, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Florida.
Witness Jenna Smith said she served Casado at a bar before he went to Dos Gatos in St. Augustine, testifying he was served four beers.
During cross-examination, the defense asked if it was true that when he left the bar there were no signs of intoxication.
“Not that I was aware of,” Smith told the court.
All of the witnesses testified that neither man appeared drunk. Before the shooting, both men were seen inside Dos Gatos and there was no conflict.
During testimony Tuesday, the court learned Casado, who worked security and valet at a hotel, had gotten off work that night after working 30 days straight. Casado has a concealed-carry permit for his gun and was allowed to have it on him outside.
The state rested its case Tuesday.
Testimony in the stand-your-ground hearing began Monday with Cpl. Eric Yarborough of the St. Augustine Police Department. Yarborough arrived to find Amoia lying on the ground shot and Casado standing on the sidewalk with his gun.
Casado explained why he shot Amoia.
“He hit me four times. I shot him,” Casado said in bodycam footage. “Self-defense. It was self-defense.”
Marilyn Butts, a crime scene technician, captured evidence from the shooting. Among the evidence: Shell casings, Casado’s glasses that were knocked off his face when he was hit, and his gun.
The next three witnesses Monday — Allison Seanard, Makayla Pomarzynski and Ryan Winland — all testified to seeing or hearing the shooting but said they did not know all the details of what led up to it.
“I thought it was like horseplay,” Seanard said. “I did see someone slap someone, it was like an open contact situation. But I did see someone from the group of boys -- I saw a group of boys hit or made contact with the individual and he may have backed up. And then nothing else occurred and then there was a gun and chaos ensued.”
The final witness of the day, Michael Britton, was working at Dos Gatos in St. Augustine and testified that Casado was becoming aggressive outside and that Amoia tried to make him leave.
“Adam steps up, kind of like, turns him by the shoulders to like, ‘Alright buddy. It’s time for you to go, alright, f-off,’ and then he turns around and now this is where he’s acting bold and stepping in people’s personal spaces,” Britton said.
During cross-examination, the defense said it was Amoia and another friend who instigated the fight and attacked Casado first.
Attorney: “Did you see Mr. Casado after these two hits ... did you see him start to back up?”
Britton: “Uh, I don’t remember, but I would say so, yes.”
Attorney: “Do you remember his hand being in the air?”
Attorney: “Do you remember anyone trying to stop Mr. Amoia?”
Attorney: “Did you try to stop him?”
Attorney: “Did you even yell anything, ‘Don’t do that?’”
Attorney: “Did any of these guys here in exhibit one try to stop it?”
Attorney: “Did any of them yell, ‘Please don’t do that?’”
Attorney: “Everyone just watched.”
The hearing is expected to last until Thursday. It’s unclear if Casado will take the stand.