FL: Man convicted of battering prostitute

June 20, 2009
By JAY STAPLETON
Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — A jury Friday found an ex-con guilty of hitting a prostitute with his car and holding her against her will during an encounter in an overgrown lot on South Beach Street.

In a two-day trial that pitted Michael Edward Beach’s word against that of the prostitute, the jury decided to find him guilty of misdemeanor battery, rather than attempted sexual battery. He was also found guilty of aggravated battery and false imprisonment.

Prosecutor Tiffany Adleman argued that Beach victimized the woman hoping no one would believe “a prostitute.” The jury and the judge were more inclined to believe the woman’s story.

“The only two people who, as far as I can tell, really know the truth, are you and (the victim),” Circuit Judge R. Michael Hutcheson told Beach after the jury had spoken. “Candidly, I find her account more credible than your testimony.”

Beach shook his head when the judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

“Obviously, he’s disappointed,” his lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Larry Powers said.

Beach, 36, who worked for a glass company, testified Thursday that he went looking for sex after drinking at The Crook’s Den bar.

“I was wanting some oral satisfaction,” Beach testified. “So, I was looking for a prostitute.”

Beach claimed he picked the woman up and drove her to the lot near the Water Club Apartments, where he was jumped by an unknown man.

“She was scratching,” he said. “I’m being kicked.”

The woman, whose identity is not being published because of the nature of the crime, testified that they had sex for $100. She claimed Beach tried to force more. She said as she tried to leave, he grabbed her in a headlock and strangled her.

According to her testimony, the woman said they struggled, and she bit him before trying to run off.

When she fell on South Beach Street, the woman testified, Beach struck her in the right leg with his car as he drove off.

Beach said he hit the woman with his hands to defend himself but denied ever striking her with his car or attempting to rape her.

While recognizing that the jury may not have felt comfortable finding Beach guilty of trying to rape the woman because there had been a consensual arrangement of sex for money, Adelman was pleased with the verdict.

“They were able to look past the woman’s poor choices and her life,” she said. “And look at her as a real person.”

A key strength for the state’s case was the testimony of Beach’s wife of 12 years. Kimberly Beach testified that she went back to the lot later that night to retrieve her husband’s wallet, cell phone and cash from the ground, which cast doubt on his testimony of a robbery.

Although the jury heard of the woman’s recent run-ins with the law, they were not told of Beach’s prior rape conviction. But the judge was.

Back in 1991, according to a police report, Beach punched a woman in the face and raped her, Adelman said.

“That is all lies,” Beach explained. “I copped out to that when I was a young person. A lot of people were involved, and they all pointed the finger at me. I just copped out, because it was the best thing, in my interest.”

jay.stapleton@news-jrnl.com

Original on News Journal Online

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