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Date of Issue: May 26, 2010

Resort fight bound for trial

A jury is scheduled to determine what happened in a fracas at a Bradenton Beach resort late one Saturday night in 2009.

A late June trial date is set for night security guard William Marcus Bennett, 34, of Bradenton, who is charged with aggravated battery in the incident at the Tortuga Inn.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Bennett, according to court records, responded at about midnight May 24, 2009, to a report from Tortuga Inn management about some rowdy guests on the beach. An argument ensued, resulting in a call to the Bradenton Beach Police Department and more arguing.

In court documents, the prosecution alleges that Bennett struck one of the Tortuga guests, Robert A. Herce of Apollo Beach, with a pair of brass knuckles.

A police report states that Bennett had had trouble with a group at the Tortuga Inn “over the last few nights.”

The report continues, stating that Herce said he and his brother Mario and Ivana Hanzel of Apollo Beach were walking off the beach when Bennett confronted them.

The report states that Hanzel claimed she saw “metal knuckles” on Bennett’s right hand and that Bennett hit Herce, cutting his right cheek.

The charge of aggravated battery with great bodily harm/deadly weapon is classified as a second-degree felony.

Bennett was arrested three months after the incident following a state attorney review of the BBPD reports and interviews with witnesses.

The case is before Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. and scheduled to go to trial for the period beginning June 28. However, a docket sounding, when the status of the case will be reviewed and possibly delayed, is scheduled for June 16.

The potential state witness list names Herce, his brother, Hanzel, several BBPD officers and a representative from Tortuga Inn.