A Florida man whose son was killed in an apparent drunken driving incident two years ago followed the accused driver into a bathroom at the Broward courthouse Monday and beat him to the floor, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
"You killed my son," Juan Gonzalez Sr., 56, said to the driver, according to a witness. "I will be watching you."
The driver, John Powers, 54, returned to the courtroom of Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold just after 10:30 a.m. Monday, blood dripping from his left ear, down his neck and onto his shirt. Powers' friend, Jay Israel, immediately told the judge and court deputies what had happened.
Powers, 54, has been charged with DUI manslaughter and manslaughter while driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level in connection with the June 12, 2011, accident that claimed the life of Juan Gonzalez Jr. in Davie.
According to an arrest report for that incident, Powers was trying to make a U-turn in his 1994 Jeep Cherokee from northbound State Road 7 at Orange Drive. Gonzalez, who was traveling south on a 1997 Suzuki motorcycle, slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the Jeep. The motorcycle skidded, slid on its side, and crashed into the Jeep. Gonzalez died from his injuries the next day.
A Davie police officer noticed the smell of alcohol on Powers' breath and several empty beer cans in the backseat and floorboard, according to the report. Powers' blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.
Powers and members of the Gonzalez family were in court Monday for an arraignment hearing. Powers, who is free on a $20,000 bond, pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charges. Powers left the courtroom with his friend, Jay Israel, and went into the nearest men's room.
It was there, according to Powers and Israel, that the crash victim's father confronted them.
Israel, 59, told deputies Gonzalez grabbed him by the throat, then let go and began punching Powers in the head and face, according to an arrest report. When Powers fell to the floor, Gonzalez taunted him, Israel said.
Powers returned to the courtroom with blood dripping down the side of his face and onto his shirt from his left ear. He and Israel told the judge and court deputies what had happened.
Minutes later, deputies stopped Gonzalez from leaving the courthouse and brought him back to the hallway outside Gold's courtroom. He spoke only to one deputy, who communicated with him in Spanish.
Israel and Powers identified him as their attacker and said they wanted to prosecute. Gonzalez was charged with two counts of battery, misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail.
According to court records, Gonzalez pleaded no contest in 2007 to one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving. He was sentenced to three years' probation.
Other members of Gonzalez' family were not with him when he was arrested.
Powers' next court date on the manslaughter charges is in March.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijeck contributed to this report.
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