by: Erica Rodriguez
Prosecutors had charged Pablo Infante, 47, with first-degree murder in the death of Jeffrey Allen Henrickson Sr. on Oct. 24, 2012, at Henrickson’s home south of Tavares. But jurors convicted Infante of the lesser charge, deciding the killing was not premeditated.
Infante faces a prison term of 25 years to life when he is sentenced later. Because prosecutors weren’t seeking the death penalty, Infante would have faced life in prison without parole if he had been convicted of first-degree murder.
During closing arguments, Assistant Public Defender Morris Carranza said this was a stand-your-ground case and that Infante feared for his life because Henrickson had taunted him “day in and day out.”
“He [Henrickson] was capable of killing someone like Pablo Infante and Mr. Infante knew that in his heart and his mind,” Carranza said. Henrickson regularly called Infante a “pedophile” and a “child rapist,” he said.
In testimony earlier this week, Tammy Vest, the mother of Henrickson’s 21-year-old son who was living with Henrickson, told jurors Henrickson would drink beer and call Infante names after Henrickson learned about a sexually-charged encounter between Infante and that son. Henrickson and Vest at the time lived in an apartment on the same property as Infante south of Tavares.
The two had just returned home from having Chinese food with their 18-month-old granddaughter the night of the shooting when Infante approached the couple armed with a gun. Infante initially told investigators he’d left his house unarmed, watched Henrickson and Vest park their van, then retrieved his gun. He denied that story this week, saying he approached the 47-year-old Henrickson wearing his gun because he feared for his life. Infante said he lied to investigators because he was “ashamed” to admit he was afraid of Henrickson, who he said made death threats and caused him such fear he twice slept in a closet.
During his encounter with Henrickson, Infante said the man lunged at him.
“I had the choice, either stop him or have him take the gun from me,” Infante said.
Carranza argued that during the shooting Infante had no duty to retreat and the right to stand his ground.
However, Assistant State Attorney Hugh Bass said Infante took the law into his own hands rather than avail himself of legal procedures. Infante began the process of seeking an injunction for protection against Henrickson the day before the shooting but never completed it.
“The only thing he was armed with was an 18-month-old baby,” Bass said.