• Man who beat teen says he was defending home


    PALM BAY, Fla.,None - A Palm Bay father who is facing child abuse charges said he was just standing his ground, defense lawyers told WFTV on Monday.

    Before the case began, they held a minitrial about whether Gary Johnson can claim he was "defending his home" when he attacked a teenager during an organized fight involving his son on his property.

    The teen who was beaten, Christopher Mace, said he went over to Johnson's home in Palm Bay last August with the intent to fight Johnson's son, Justin.

    "I didn't know his dad was going to be there. I thought it was just going to be him and some of his friends," said Mace.

    Prosecutors said Johnson allowed Mace on his property for the fight and agreed to make sure it was fair.

    "We were wrastling on the ground and his dad was yelling, 'Come on, get him, get him, get him!'" Mace said.

    The fight between the two teenagers was recorded by friends.

    When Johnson stepped in, the 6-foot-4-inch man asked Mace if he wanted him to knock him out, and then knocked Mace to the ground.

    "He kept on hammer-punching me and I blacked out," Mace said.

    Johnson was charged with child abuse and aggravated battery.

    However, Johnson's attorneys are claiming he was protecting himself, using a law originally intended to protect homeowners against intruders.

    The video shows Johnson kicking the teen in the face while Mace was on the ground. But his defense attorneys pointed out Mace wanted to continue.

    Johnson's attorneys said he feared other teenagers gathering around were going to "jump into the fight."

    A judge is set to rule Tuesday on whether to dismiss the charges based on the "stand your ground" law.

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