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Testimony showed the two, who were close, were drinking and quarreling before the fatal beating.
By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 30, 2002
TAMPA -- A judge Tuesday acquitted a 22-year-old Tampa man on trial for beating his beloved uncle to death with his bare hands.
Reymundo C. Cedillo faced a charge of manslaughter and a possible 15-year prison term for his role in the May 7 death of 43-year-old Loyd "Dupy" Snead.
Prosecutors said Cedillo, known as "R.C.," beat Snead repeatedly about the head after Snead refused to let him use his Camaro.
The state had rested its case against Cedillo Tuesday, on the second day of his trial, when Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett granted a defense motion for acquittal.
Based on the evidence presented by the state, Padgett ruled, Cedillo did not know, or reasonably would not have known, that punching Snead would have killed him or caused him great bodily injury.
Cedillo, who has been held in the Hillsborough County Jail since his arrest, walked out of the courtroom Tuesday with his mother.
Snead and Cedillo loved each other like best friends, even like father and son, acquaintances said.
When Cedillo moved to Tampa from Michigan early this year, his uncle found him a job at the recycling center where he worked as a supervisor.
Snead also found his nephew a house on North A Street where he could rent a room.
Both were living there on May 7, and both had been drinking.
When Cedillo asked Snead to borrow his Camaro, Snead told his nephew he was too intoxicated to drive.
Bridgette Wolfe, who knew both men, testified that Snead pulled a fuse out of the Camaro so Cedillo couldn't start it, which intensified the dispute.
"R.C. just, like, hit him, Wham! Wham!" Wolfe said. "Dupy's head just snapped back. His hat went flying. . . . Dupy never raised his hands or moved or anything."
She described Snead as "very small" and "very skinny." Cedillo, however, is 6 feet and 180 pounds.
Wendi Shepherd, who rented both men a room in her house, testified that she tried to break up the confrontation.
She said that Cedillo grew angrier and angrier as Snead ribbed him about how he was in no condition to drive.
Assistant Public Defender DeeAnn Athan asked Shepherd if Snead had provoked Cedillo. "In a sense, yes," Shepherd said. After the beating, Snead walked a few feet and collapsed. He later died at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Prosecutors declined to comment.
Athan, the defense attorney, said her client at first didn't understand the significance of Judge Padgett's granting of the motion for acquittal.
"He was saying, 'What happened? What happened?' " Athan said. When the jury was led out, she told him: "The case is over."
"He wept for about 30 minutes," Athan said.
-- Christopher Goffard can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.