TAMPA — Raynaldo Carrillo returned to court Friday in a dark suit and with tears in his eyes two months after an outburst in court in which he yelled at the man accused of killing his brother, causing a mistrial.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente, a living definition of tough judge, had angrily told Carrillo to come back prepared to serve up to six months in jail for contempt of court.
But before Fuente sentenced him, he let Carrillo, 46, speak.
His brother Nelson Carrillo was found stabbed more than 100 times in his Tampa home last June. Charles Chambers was charged with his murder. Chambers represented himself when his trial began in February.
Raynaldo Carrillo, a Homestead massage therapist, was put on the witness stand to identify a gold necklace that had belonged to his brother. Raynaldo Carrillo said it was the necklace "that punk tried to sell at a pawnshop."
As the judge, the prosecutor and bailiffs tried to hush him, Carrillo shouted at Chambers, "This is not going to be over, you freaking killer!"
Fuente immediately declared a mistrial and told Carrillo to come back to his court in two months prepared to go to jail.
Before his sentencing Friday, Carrillo begged the judge's forgiveness.
"My behavior didn't reach the level of respect you expected of me," he said. "I'm sorry for you and for your staff. I cannot make any excuses."
The judge learned that Carrillo is a military veteran, recently divorced, taking care of a 9-year-old daughter.
The judge also learned that Carrillo had reimbursed the state $1,086 for flying in an out-of-state witness.
Assistant State Attorney Christopher Moody told the judge he felt responsible for the outburst. He said he had decided to call Carrillo to the stand only that morning and hadn't adequately prepared him.
"I felt I put him in a bad situation," Moody said. "He just got overcome with emotion."
Fuente then passed sentence.
"It was really my intention to incarcerate you," he told Carrillo. He noted that the Chambers trial still hasn't been rescheduled.
But Fuente said he was swayed by Carrillo's military service, his family obligations and his "genuine remorse."
So instead of jail, he sentenced Carrillo to five months of probation and 150 hours of community service.
John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.