Man acquitted of assault with a dead chicken By PATRICIO G. BALONA Staff Writer DELAND -- Ellis Shaffer testified his daughter's dog "would lick you to death," but that's not what landed Shaffer in court Thursday. It's what the golden retriever did to his neighbor's chickens -- unfortunate slayings that led to an unusual assault. On Thursday, a jury acquitted the neighbor, Juan Fernando Carrasco, of hitting Shaffer in the head with a dead 4-pound chicken. "I wasn't injured but I certainly felt it. He got my attention," saidShaffer, 78. The April 12, 2006, dispute between the two neighbors -- separated by a 3-foot-high fence on Jane Lacy Lane, a dirt road of 2 1/2-acre lots in New Smyrna Beach -- ended when Shaffer called a sheriff's deputy. And when Carrasco refused to accept a plea agreement by the State Attorney's Office, the battery-with-a-dead-chicken case went to trial. On Thursday, a jury of four women and two men took 20 minutes to decide Carrasco was innocent of battery. Carrasco faced being sentenced but not technically convicted of the crime if he had accepted the agreement, Assistant State Attorney Colleen Taylor said. Tagged to the offer were six months' probation, no contact with Shaffer and payment of all court costs, Taylor said. "I gambled everything because I know I did not do what he said I did," Carrasco said after the trial. "The state's offer was not better than a 'not guilty' verdict because even if I said I have not been convicted of a crime, it would be on my record. It is better to be acquitted." According to Shaffer's testimony, early April 12, 2006, he heard a commotion outside and when he went out, he saw his daughter's dog chasing Carrasco's chickens on Carrasco's property. He and Carrasco tried to get the dog away but not before some chickens were killed. He caught the dog bringing him a chicken and placed it inside his house, he said. An angry Carrasco later came to the back fence dividing their property and twice asked Shaffer to hand over the dog, Shaffer testified. "He said 'Bring me the dog.' I said 'No' and so, bang! He hit me in the head. He was holding the chicken by the feet," Shaffer testified. Carrasco, a native of Uruguay, denied hitting Shaffer. He said he was angry but not angry enough to strike Shaffer. He testified that he told Shaffer he respected people older than him. "Sounds like something you hear on 'Jay Leno' but it's not a joke," Assistant State Attorney Larry Avalon argued. "Mr. Shaffer was hit with an object that has weight. That is battery." But Carrasco's attorney, Diego Handel, argued that the state's only evidence was Shaffer's testimony claiming Carrasco hit him with the dead chicken. "It may be a case involving a dead chicken but it is extremely serious to Fernando (Carrasco)," Handel said. "The lack of evidence supports the conclusion that Fernando is not guilty. It's a situation of 'he said and they said.' " After the trial, Shaffer said he was satisfied with the jury's decision. "He had 14 months to worry about it and it cost him a bunch. That's enough," Shaffer said. "It was his word against mine." One member of Carrasco's family called it the "alleged assault with a dead weapon." Source: News - newsjournalonline.com I question the wisdom of the State Attorney office. They shouldn't have pursued it. Deland is the Volusia county seat. New Smyrna Beach is a small city about 5 miles south of Daytona Beach. I like the comment "... assault with a dead weapon." This is Florida's week for strange news stories.