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82-year-old's battery case is dropped

Prosecutors will not pursue charges against an 82-year-old woman accused last month of punching her husband, then kicking a sheriff's deputy in the shin.

Prosecutors decided Michelina Ferrantino was not mentally competent during the alleged outburst Feb. 12 at Evergreen Woods Retirement Center, where the couple lived, said Assistant State Attorney Rita Battista.

Ferrantino had been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and domestic violence.

The 110-pound Spring Hill octogenarian was led away in handcuffs that day from the retirement home and booked at the Hernando County Jail. She was later turned over to the Greenbrier psychiatric hospital west of Brooksville and was released last week.

Her 86-year-old husband expressed relief Tuesday that charges had been dropped.

Carmine Ferrantino said the entire incident arose out of a misunderstanding. He said his wife should not have been arrested. "I said, "For Christ's sake, she's 82, she suffers from Alzheimer's, and they're putting handcuffs on her?' " he said.

Michelina Ferrantino was alleged to have punched her husband of 57 years in the chest, even though she knew he had undergone recent open-heart surgery. Then she allegedly became irate when Deputy Ron Broker arrived to investigate the dispute.

Broker went into a bedroom to see how the husband was doing. When he did, the wife "entered the room in a rage, charging Mr. Ferrantino with her fists clenched in a striking position," said a sheriff's report.

She was accused of punching the deputy in the chest and shoulders, then kicking him on the right shin. She was "out of control and had to be taken face-down on the couch in the living room to be handcuffed," the deputy's report said.

Broker said in his report that he "used due care (so) as not to injure Mrs. Ferrantino due to her age."

The 45-year-old deputy suffered a minor abrasion to the shin.

Michelina Ferrantino was taken by patrol car to jail; her husband was taken to a hospital for observation. He said Tuesday there had been no injury, and he is doing fine.

His wife flew to be with family Tuesday in Long Island, N.Y. He plans to join her soon. He said she was devastated by the incident and cried frequently. At Greenbrier, she "was saying, "Why am I here? What did I do to deserve this?' " he said.

He said the original argument was over him not wanting her to drive. She locked him out of a room. As he tried to force his way in, she reached through the open door and pushed him in the chest.

Deputies acknowledged at the time that it was unusual for somebody Ferrantino's age to be arrested on charges of beating an officer. But they said that her actions toward the deputy and her husband warranted an arrest.

Battista said she doesn't fault the deputies for the arrest.

"If she committed an offense, it's not their job to determine if she's competent or not at that time," she said.

"I don't think they did anything wrong," she said.