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Spring Hill man testifies he shot his girlfriend's husband in self-defense

UPDATE: After deliberating for nearly two hours Wednesday evening, the jury asked to review the testimony of the eyewitness in the case. The jury will listen to a recording of the testimony in open court Thursday morning and then resume deliberations.

BROOKSVILLE — William James Siskos sat on the stand Wednesday and offered his account of the night he shot and killed his girlfriend's husband.

Siskos, a 42-year-old former corrections officer, said he met Joey Kasbach for the first time on July 9, 2010, when Siskos went looking for Kim Kasbach at a neighbor's house on Ligonier Road in Spring Hill.

Kim Kasbach was there, but so was her husband, Joey. According to Siskos, Joey Kasbach charged and hit him twice with his right hand. Then, Siskos said, Kasbach started to raise what looked like a gun in his left hand.

"I was hit, I was dazed, I was in fear for my life and I reacted," Siskos said.

"I aimed for the direct threat, which was his hand coming up with the weapon in it."

The bullet from Siskos' .22-caliber Ruger pistol hit Kasbach in the abdomen. He died about two hours later. Investigators never found another weapon at the scene.

Jurors started deliberating shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday and were still at it two hours later. They were to decide if Siskos is guilty of second-degree murder, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon.

During the three-day trial, prosecutors have painted Siskos as a jealous boyfriend angered by his girlfriend's decision that night to hang out with friends, and the husband she'd separated from months earlier.

Though the two men had never met, there was still tension that was ripe for a violent confrontation, assistant state attorney Sonny McCathran told jurors during closing statements.

"It built up and built up and boom, one shot, the victim's dead," McCathran said.

Siskos' public defenders tried to convince jurors that he was a victim who acted in self-defense, a man who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from an injury he received while working in a state prison.

The night of the shooting, Kim Kasbach was supposed to come to the tiny shed on Drummond Avenue that Siskos called home. When she didn't show up, he tucked the Ruger in his belt loop and walked the several blocks to the house on Ligonier Road, one of only a few places he figured she would be.

Siskos said he carried the gun that night because the neighborhood wasn't safe. He said he was worried about Kim Kasbach and wanted to walk her home, and never expected to run into Joey Kasbach.

"Kim was adamant that if he saw me he would be very aggressive," Siskos said.

Kim Kasbach told a friend to tell Siskos to go home and that she would be there shortly. He left and returned a short time later.

Siskos testified that he walked up and saw his friend Bill Mullins standing by a car, and another man sitting in the driver's seat. That man got out of the car.

"I'm going to take care of this motherf-----,' " the man said, according to Siskos, then reached under the seat for what Siskos assumed was a weapon.

After Siskos fired, Mullins said, "You shot Joe."

"It came together that this was Kim's ex," Siskos testified.

Mullins, the state's key witness, testified that Siskos and Kasbach exchanged words, and when Kasbach stretched his arms out to the side and took a small step forward, Siskos took the gun from his waistband and fired. Kasbach never swung at Siskos, Mullins testified.

Photographs taken of Siskos' face the night of the incident show no marks or bruises. Investigators at the scene didn't find a weapon other than the pistol Siskos used.

McCathran argued that Siskos knew what Joey Kasbach looked like and knew he was with Kim Kasbach that night.

Siskos denied testimony from two acquaintances who testified that, two or three weeks before the shooting, Siskos said he would shoot Kasbach if he found him with Kim.

On Tuesday, Kim Kasbach testified that her husband had threatened "to kick Siskos' a--" if he ever ran into him. She testified that when she told Siskos this, he said he'd do the same.

Siskos' attorneys had argued during an April hearing that Siskos is immune from prosecution under Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. rejected that motion.

Public defender Barbara Jo-Bell tried to convince the jury it was possible that one or more of the people at the house that night hid or removed whatever weapon Joey Kasbach might have had.

As he cross-examined Siskos, McCathran said the moment Siskos fired the weapon came after an epiphany.

"At that point you realized Kim was using both of you," McCathran said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]

Spring Hill man testifies he shot his girlfriend's husband in self-defense 06/13/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 9:04pm]
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