Former Ocean Ridge Vice Mayor, Richard Lucibella, testifies in court on Jan. 31. A six-man jury began deliberations about 9:55 am on Feb. 1. Lucibella is charged with two felonies; battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Steve Plunkett
Richard Lucibella’s legal fate is in the hands of a six-man jury.
Deliberations began about 9:55 a.m. Feb. 1. The onetime Ocean Ridge vice mayor is charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence, both felonies. Lucibella told the judge he did not want jurors to have the option to convict him of lesser charges.
In closing statements the day before, Assistant State Attorney Danielle Grundt told jurors the evidence clearly showed Lucibella “intentionally touched or struck” Officer Richard Ermeri. The only question, she said, was whether Ermeri was in Lucibella’s backyard performing a lawful duty.
The officer was in the area investigating reports of “shots fired,” Grundt said. “He has no idea if someone has been hurt, if someone has been murdered, if someone was shot, if a dog has been killed; he doesn’t know if there’s a burglary—if someone’s defending himself. He really doesn’t know.”
Grundt said Ermeri needed to question Lucibella.
“If he had just left at that point, I submit to you he wouldn’t have done his job,” Grundt told the jurors.
But defense attorney Marc Shiner said Ermeri, who spent four years as a prison guard, escalated the situation.
“He wanted to get violent that night,” Shiner said. “He’s just a violent, angry man for whatever reason.”
Shiner said Lucibella had a right to expect privacy on his patio. “I’m not saying that everything he did was smart or wise, but he was in his castle,” he said.
And he implored jurors to use common sense. “Find my client not guilty—because he did not do it,” Shiner said.
Defense attorney, Marc Shiner, holds up the hand gun Lt. Steven Wohlfiel is said to have fired in former Ocean Ridge Vice Mayor Richard Lucibella's backyard in October 2016. The case now goes to jury deliberation. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star