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Victims describe attack that cost them vision in Hernando trial

BROOKSVILLE — The two friends described in precise, graphic detail Wednesday injuries they said they suffered during a brutal pistol-whipping at a Spring Hill park.

"Twice on this side, once on this side," testified 17-year-old Domenic Musicaro, who went blind in his right eye. "Right, left right."

Kevin Strickland, 31, said that a single blow from Christian Rivera, the man accused of wielding the handgun, shattered his skull and destroyed his peripheral vision.

Rivera, 21, is on trial on three felony charges: two counts of aggravated assault with a handgun and one count of attempted robbery with a handgun.

"Blindness is not something that just goes away after a while," Musicaro's mother, Antoinette, said. "This is something we'll deal with for his entire life."

Musicaro and Strickland had just finished a game of Amtgard, a role-playing combat game involving foam weapons, when a barrage of paintballs struck their belongings at Amity Trails Park in Spring Hill.

Strickland said he yelled profanities, but not threats, in the direction the paintballs had come before Rivera hopped out of a car and pulled a gun on Musicaro.

"I didn't know what to do when we saw the gun," said Anthony Roberts Jr., who left the car with Rivera. "I was sitting there stuck. My mind was blown."

Roberts and 18-year-old Colin Mackiewicz, who drove the car Rivera rode in, said they saw Rivera thrust the gun in Musicaro's face and demand that he "run his pockets."

They said Rivera struck Strickland once then hit Musicaro three times.

Witness Daniel Murray, who said in a January 2009 interview that Rivera had a gun, retracted his statement on Wednesday. He said Rivera had no gun and struck the two with his bare hands.

Murray, however, also denied twice having ever been arrested for a felony. He is in the Hernando County Jail on felony charges of arson and burglary.

Rivera still faces a separate charge of aggravated battery with great bodily harm after a brawl last year in the county jail. Fellow inmate Raymond Dawson suffered a broken nose and cheekbone in the fight.

Rivera has not decided whether he will testify in his own defense today. Public defender Mike Amico said three or four witnesses will testify.

Victims describe attack that cost them vision in Hernando trial 06/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 8:15pm]
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