Jury finds man guilty of attempted manslaughter

Interlachen 49-year-old was accused of beating 60-year-old with shovel

A 49-year-old Interlachen man was found guilty late Wednesday evening of attempted manslaughter by act with a weapon and aggravated battery with weapon enhancement in a 2015 first-degree attempted murder case.

Boyd Gene Wiley of Interlachen was on trial for charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery causing serious bodily harm with a weapon of 60-year-old Herbert Thorne.

On Aug. 13, 2015, Wiley used a shovel to strike Thorne with enough force a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputy who responded to the scene told jurors he saw “skull and brain matter inside the wound.”

Deputy Nick Vieira said when he arrived on scene, Thorne was covered in blood.

“He had a large laceration on top of his head,” Vieira said. “He was in and out of consciousness.”

Thorne told jurors he was in a motorcycle accident a few months prior to the attack and hired Wiley to cut up a trailer on his property.

Thorne said at the time, he had limited use of one hand and had to walk with a cane because of his motorcycle injuries.

Thorne said he was going to pay Wiley $400 for the job.

“I would pay him $200 before and another $200 when he was done,” Thorne said.

Thorne said Wiley received the prepayment of $200, but didn’t finish the work.

The day of the attack, Thorne said, Wiley pulled up to his property in a vehicle.

“He was saying something to me that I couldn’t hear,” Thorne said.

Thorne said he walked closer to Wiley, who got out of the vehicle.

“I was using the shovel to walk because I left my cane,” Thorne said. “He said, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ and punched me in the head.”

Thorne said he held the shovel in front of himself and Wiley grabbed the shovel.

Thorne said after he was knocked to the ground, Wiley hit him with the shovel.

“I tried to get up, but I fell down,” Thorne said.

Neurosurgeon Adam Polifka told jurors he saw Thorne shortly after his arrival to a Gainesville hospital.

“Dirt, grass and hair all had to be removed from his brain,” Polifka said. “I’ve never seen bone cut like that.”

Polifka told jurors Thorne suffered a large depressed skull fracture and a piece of the victim’s skull was imbedded into the brain.

“I was quite frankly surprised he didn’t die from his injury,” Polifka said. “Most often an injury to that area (of the brain) results in a fatality to the body.”

Testifying in his own defense, Wiley told jurors he went to Thorne’s house to ask for the remaining money the victim owed him.

Wiley said even though he knew Thorne was in a motorcycle accident and receiving disability checks, “He was as fit as I am,” Wiley said

After asking for the money, Wiley said, Thorne went from joking around to mad.

“(Thorne) flipped like a light switch,” Wiley said. “I got scared. I really got scared.”

Wiley described his actions as self-defense.

“I just wanted to get away,” Wiley said.

Wiley told jurors after he got the shovel away from Thorne during a struggle, he hit the victim with the shovel.

After he hit Thorne, Wiley said he threw the shovel down and went to a nearby family member’s house to call 911.

Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney Rebecca Emert on cross-examination questioned the struggle leading up to the near fatal strike.

“You testified on direct he is holding both hands on the shovel when he tries to hit you, but somehow he grows a third arm and grabs you by the collar?” Emert asked.

“No, he don’t have three arms,” Wiley replied.

“How then did he have both hands on the shovel to jab you in the face? How was he able to grab you by the shirt collar?” Emert asked.

“It was after I got the shovel,” Wiley said.

“But on direct, you said it was before,” Emert said.

The jury spent about five hours deliberating before deciding on the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter. 

Wiley is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m. on Oct. 11.

Palatka Daily News

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