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Golfer is found guilty in 2003 brawl on course

One swing on Quail Hollow golf course's ninth fairway three years ago could mean three to 15 years in prison for the golfer.

That's because a jury convicted him Thursday of striking another golfer in the head.

Sean Blue was found guilty of aggravated battery after a three-day trial and 30 minutes of jury deliberations.

The 30-year-old Tampa man was accused of breaking a metal 3-wood club across the head of 48-year-old Rick Lee when a golf course spat turned into a brawl at Quail Hollow on Nov. 26, 2003.

Lee was flown to a Tampa hospital, where he underwent three days of tests. His jaw is still broken. He still has the occasional headache. And the blow could have been fatal, his doctor told him, had his arm not deflected the club strike.

The defense targeted Lee during the trial, and the Lutz man returned fire after the verdict.

"He needs to be put in jail right away because he's a violent character . . . ," he said of Blue. "That character assassination he tried to pull on me, Lord have mercy."

Blue, who was arrested in 2004 and is out on bail, wasn't jailed immediately. His sentencing was delayed until April after his lawyer told the judge Blue's mother died at 3 a.m. Thursday after battling a long illness.

Blue stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict, glaring at Lee, after Senior Judge J. Tim Strickland warned him not to miss sentencing: "The court will probably enhance his incarceration beyond what he was already thinking about."

It started in the hours before Thanksgiving dinner when Blue and his golfing partner and Lee's fivesome exchanged words from different holes. Then Blue's golf cart headed for a confrontation at the par-5, 520-yard No. 9 hole.

There were more words, then scuffling. Lee testified Blue swung at him, so he tackled him. They were pulled apart, and it was over, or so Lee and his witnesses testified.

Lee was being restrained by another golfer, the state said, when Blue grabbed a club and hit Lee.

But it was Lee whom Assistant Public Defender Steve Herman put on trial. He was a club-wielding "maniac," who had already won his fight with Blue, the lawyer said,

"There is no conflict that Mr. Lee bested Sean in the fight," the attorney said. "He put him down and . . . all the evidence shows that Mr. Lee was the user of force, he was the batterer, he was the aggressor."

Ridiculous, argued prosecutor Stacey Sumner, who said Lee was unarmed when he was assaulted.

"The intent of Sean Blue, at the moment he picked up the club, was given to you in his own words," the assistant state attorney told jurors. " "I picked up the club and came at him.' "

Lee still golfs, just not at Quail Hollow.

"I'm not going to stop playing golf," he said. "I love golf."

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