State Attorney: Palm Bay Shooting of Intruders Justified

PALM BAY, Florida — "A thorough legal review by the State Attorney’s Office for the 18th Judicial Circuit concludes a December 2013 shooting that resulted in the deaths of two men was a justified use of deadly force in a case of self-defense," said City of Palm Bay City spokesperson Yvonne Martinez in a release. 

The 3 ½ month long investigation means the shooter identified as 23-year-old Stephen Wright will not face criminal charges for the deaths of  26-year-old Sean Pino and 21-year-old Dylan Kane. 

“After review of the materials submitted and discussion of the case, it is the conclusion of this office that the use of deadly force by Stephen Wright was lawful and justifiable,” Assistant State Attorney Michael Hunt stated in a letter dated March 4, 2014.   “As detailed by the witnesses, evidence, and investigation, Dylan Kane and Sean Pino were engaged in an armed burglary of a dwelling with an assault when Stephen Wright fired his firearm and killed the intruders. Mr. Wright acted lawfully under the circumstances.” 

The shooting occurred just after 1 a.m. on December 4, 2013 at 682 Thuringer St. NW.  According to the investigation, a 20-year-old woman identified as Jillian Kusznir went to the home to see Wright. Pino and Kane accompanied her but stayed outside the residence. There were four people in the home when Kusznir arrived. 

As Kusznir left the home, there was a verbal confrontation outside between Pino, Kane and one of the occupants of the home, identified as 25-year-old Alex Souza.  Souza and Wright did not know the two men, police say. 

During the argument, Pino and Kane forced their way into the home and started a physical fight with Souza, witnesses told police.  Wright, who was inside the home and witnessed the fight, retrieved a firearm and confronted the two men who allegedly continued towards him in an aggressive manner.  At that time, Wright fired four rounds striking and killing both men. 

“All witness statements, evidence at the scene, and the results of the autopsy are consistent with Stephen Wright and Alex Souza acting out of fear and in self-defense,” said Detective Steve Hill of the Major Case Unit. “Three independent witnesses also provided statements that support Wright’s actions.” Wright, with his attorney present, also conducted a video re-enactment of what occurred. 

The investigation is complete and the case is closed, Martinez added.

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