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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Man cleared of charges of battering sheriff's deputy

Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:26 PM

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The jury, bellies full of Domino's pizza, left Judge Kurt Hitzemann's courtroom to deliberate Friday evening around 8:30 p.m.

Just after 9 p.m., a buzzer signaled the six women had unanimously agreed on a verdict.

Moments later, Michael Bratt was crying, saying "thank you" through his tears to the six women who found him not guilty of felony battery on a law enforcement officer, and not guilty of lesser battery charges on a sheriff's deputy.

The trial occupied Hitzemann's courtroom from Tuesday morning through Friday night, with jurors often staying late into the evening to hear testimonies.

During closing arguments earlier in the evening, state prosecutor Rob Lewis projected the charges Bratt faced on a screen, and repeated the evidence he believed proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Bratt battered Hernando County Sheriff's Deputy Steven George to the point of "permanent disfigurement" in the form of a broken nose.

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Before the defense rested, defense attorney Stephen Romine called upon inconsistent testimonies from multiple deputies and their superiors, saying "people get the big lies right." Romine called law enforcement testimonies anything but straightforward, and insinuated the office tried to destroy any record of wrongdoing in the way they responded to a noise complaint at Bratt's home the night of Dec. 26, 2009.

After the verdict was read, Bratt's family members embraced. "Go to your husband," one woman told Marjorie Youmans, Bratt's wife, who was absent from the courtroom until Friday afternoon when she gave her testimony of the ordeal. (352) 544-5283

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