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    Police say man already on trial killed his cousin

    By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 15, 2001


    LARGO -- Leon Battle likely was headed to prison or jail at the end of his trial June 6 on an aggravated battery charge.

    Battle admitted hitting his cousin, Barbara Corouthers. But his lawyer said he was guilty of a misdemeanor because he didn't cause serious harm, even if the cousin's cheekbone was broken.

    Had a jury convicted Battle of a misdemeanor or felony, he likely would have been sentenced to time behind bars because of a previous charge of felony aggravated battery.

    In that case, a trauma surgeon subpoenaed to testify failed to show up in court. A judge was forced to delay the trial by a week while Battle was free on bail.

    Before the trial could resume Tuesday, Battle killed another cousin in a dispute, police said, possibly over the fight with Corouthers.

    "I've been at this for 18 years," said prosecutor Richard Ripplinger, "and you see some pretty bizarre and tragic things happen."

    Battle, 34, was charged with second-degree murder this week for the stabbing death of his cousin Jimmy Charles Battle, 43, and was held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail.

    Police said the two men argued Monday night in St. Petersburg, when police said Jimmy Battle was stabbed to death.

    Ripplinger said Leon Battle attacked Corouthers last September. At some point, he carried Corouthers to a family gathering and said he and Corouthers had been attacked.

    Jimmy Battle didn't believe him and confronted his cousin, accusing him of inflicting the blows himself, a witness told prosecutors last week.

    Jimmy Battle was not listed as a witness in the case and would not have been called to testify.

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