Co-Worker’s Sledgehammer Death Results in Second-Degree Murder Charges

January 23, 2023 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Any type of murder charge should be taken very seriously. In Florida, criminal charges for homicide crimes can range from manslaughter, felony murder, second-degree murder, and first-degree murder. In one recent Broward County case, a man has been charged with second-degree murder after killing his co-worker with a sledgehammer.

This article will provide information regarding the case, along with relative legal information about murder charges in Florida.

What was the Case?

Hollywood Police Officers responded to a report about a man who had been bludgeoned to death at his work Wednesday morning. Bryan Menocal, 31, was arrested after admitting to killing his co-worker Ferdinand “Andy” Williams, 40, after the two got into an argument at their job at the Wärtsilä North America facility at 2900 SW 42nd St.

According to the report, Menocal repeatedly hit Williams over the head with a sledgehammer inside the office. One of the other Wärtsilä employees told police they witnessed Menocal walk into the office holding the sledgehammer, and then left the building.

Once police arrived, they found Williams on the floor of the office’s ‘fuel room’ with multiple injuries to the head and surrounded by a pool of blood. Menocal was not at the office when police arrived, but they later apprehended him at his Deerfield Beach apartment. Menocal has been charged with second-degree murder.

 Williams’ ex-wife, Orbrina Williams, claimed that she had no idea why someone would kill him, calling him a “gentle soul.” The two recently divorced and have three children together. She claimed that there was no reason to believe her ex and Menocal had any prior history with each other.

“It is just heartbreaking for someone to do that,” Orbrina Williams said. “Because, knowing him, he walked away, so for you to do that is crazy.”

Second-Degree Murder in Florida

Murder in the second-degree is considered when a person intentionally kills another human being, in which the act was intentional and performed with malice. The differing factors from first-degree murder to second-degree murder is that murder in the first-degree implies that there was premeditation. On the other hand, second-degree murder is the absence of premeditation.

Florida Statute Section 782.04 explains that second-degree murder results in a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Why Not Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter is often referred to as the death of another person as a result of a “crime of passion.” In the state of Florida, voluntary manslaughter is considered when a person commits a homicide after being provoked. In a voluntary manslaughter case, the defendant had a lack of realization of what they’ve done, which is what differs from a second-degree murder charge.

An individual can be charged with voluntary manslaughter when the homicide does not fit the legal description of a murder charge. Instead, the State would have to prove that while the homicide was intentional, it was through provocation or in a “heat of passion” scenario.

An example of voluntary manslaughter is as follows:

  • Brad and Chad were both out at a bar and got into an altercation over a girl. Brad becomes extremely angry and punches Chad in the face, causing him to fall back and hit his head on the concrete. The fall is fatal, resulting in Chad’s death. If Brad made a comment about harming or killing Chad right before the punch, it could result in a voluntary manslaughter charge. Although Brad did not start his night planning to kill someone, when he punched Chad in the “heat of passion” it resulted in his untimely death.

However, the passage of time plays an important role in a voluntary manslaughter case. Say the argument did not get violent and both Brad and Chad went their separate ways in the bar for a “cooling off period.”  Hours later the two see each other again, and then Brad sends the fatal blow to Chad. In this instance, Brad may be charged with second-degree murder instead of voluntary manslaughter.

Florida Murder Defenses

Taking the life of another person has some of the harshest consequences in the state of Florida. An individual who has been charged with murder may feel as if they’ve lost all hope for their future. Criminal cases involving murder must be taken extremely seriously. However, just because a person is accused of murder does not mean they are guilty. It is the responsibility of the State to prove the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The following is a list of possible defenses to use in a murder case:

  • Lack of Evidence – The State must provide evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the murder charges against them. If the State does not have enough evidence, it could be used as a defense.
  • Self-Defense – Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is a common defense used in violent crime cases. The defense must be able to prove that the defendant was acting in self-defense during the commission of the murder.
  • Unlawful Search or Seizure – Any evidence obtained by law enforcement that was obtained illegally can be excluded from a murder trial..
  • Mistaken Identity – If the victim wrongly accused the defendant by mistaken identity, then the defense can make various arguments to show that the defendant is not the one who committed the crime.
  • Defending Another Person – If the defendant can prove that the commission of the crime was to protect someone else who was in serious danger and feared for their life, it can be used as a defense in a murder case.
  • Insanity Plea – The insanity plea can be used in cases in which the defendant was not in the right state of mind during the commission of the crime or did not understand what they were doing or the consequences of their actions. An insanity plea can be used as a defense to get the defendant acquitted; however, the end result would be a mental institution rather than a prison sentence.

The best way to figure out which defenses are applicable to your case is to work with a skilled defense attorney in your area.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Murder charges are some of the most severe in Florida—especially since Florida is one of the remaining states to implement the death penalty. Due to this, it is extremely important to seek out legal guidance if you or a loved one have been accused of murder. A murder conviction can lead to paying expensive fines, long-term prison sentences, or even death.

Don Pumphrey and his attorneys have years of experience working with Florida citizens accused of a crime. We vow to stand by your side throughout the entire legal process and work to build a strong defense for your case. Don’t hesitate—to contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Written b Karissa Key

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