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A Florida man who allegedly threw hot grits on his victim has been charged with attempted second-degree murder.
Edward Holley, 60, of Orlando, was arrested after taking a hot pan of grease and grits and tossing it on a man who was standing on his front porch. The victim, Darryl Blacknell, received second- and third-degree burns from the scorching Southern comfort food, reports The Associated Press.
How did this strange food assault turn into an attempted murder charge?
Attempted 2nd Degree Murder
Holley has been charged with attempted second degree murder for the grits-throwing incident. In Florida, second-degree murder covers situations in which a person acted either intentionally or without regard for human life in a way that caused the death of a human being.
Blacknell may be badly burnt by the alleged grit-tossing, but he isn't dead. That's why Holley has been charged with attempted second degree murder. If Holley's case reaches trial, a jury will be instructed that to convict him, they must find that:
Criminal attempts in Florida are ranked one level below their principal crimes, with second-degree murder being a first-degree felony. That means Holley could potentially be convicted of a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
While the attack on Blacknell seems heinous, critics may wonder if authorities may have been a bit overzealous with the attempted murder charge.
Prosecutors are under an ethical duty to only assign and pursue charges that they believe are supported by probable cause. Perhaps the authorities are confident in the attempted murder charge because Holley told police that "next time I am going to kill him," reports the AP.
Both prosecutors and Holley will get an opportunity to test this charge at a preliminary hearing, where a judge may find there is not enough probable cause to support an attempted murder charge. Holley seems more likely to be convicted under aggravated assault, a third-degree felony with a maximum five-year prison penalty. And for the purposes of aggravated assault, even hot grits can be considered a deadly weapon.
Holley is currently in custody in Orlando on $50,000 bond.