Summer brings out the weird news, and Florida's is just a little weirder than most people's:
On Thursday, a jury acquitted the neighbor, Juan Fernando Carrasco, of hitting Shaffer in the head with a dead 4-pound chicken.
“I wasn't injured but I certainly felt it. He got my attention,” saidShaffer, 78.
The April 12, 2006, dispute between the two neighbors — separated by a 3-foot-high fence on Jane Lacy Lane, a dirt road of 2 1/2-acre lots in New Smyrna Beach — ended when Shaffer called a sheriff's deputy.
And when Carrasco refused to accept a plea agreement by the State Attorney's Office, the battery-with-a-dead-chicken case went to trial. On Thursday, a jury of four women and two men took 20 minutes to decide Carrasco was innocent of battery.
“Sounds like something you hear on 'Jay Leno' but it's not a joke,” Assistant State Attorney Larry Avalon argued. “Mr. Shaffer was hit with an object that has weight. That is battery.”
But Carrasco's attorney, Diego Handel, argued that the state's only evidence was Shaffer's testimony claiming Carrasco hit him with the dead chicken.
“It may be a case involving a dead chicken but it is extremely serious to Fernando (Carrasco),” Handel said. “The lack of evidence supports the conclusion that Fernando is not guilty. It's a situation of 'he said and they said.' “
After the trial, Shaffer said he was satisfied with the jury's decision.
“He had 14 months to worry about it and it cost him a bunch. That's enough,” Shaffer said. “It was his word against mine.”
One member of Carrasco's family called it the “alleged assault with a dead weapon.”
Update: Was it a battery hen?