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Florida man to serve 28 days in jail, four years on judicial diversion

Becky Campbell • Updated Oct 21, 2017 at 11:53 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A Brazilian native who immigrated to Florida a decade ago and was convicted in Carter County this summer in a shooting he said was self- defense was granted judicial diversion Friday, but must first serve 28 days in jail.

Filipe Piumbini, 28, of Port Charlotte, Fla., was taken into custody immediately after the sentencing hearing in Carter County Criminal Court. The charges stemmed from an altercation between Piumbini and Jon Jirka, a guide who led a group, which included Piumbini and his girlfriend Amy Nash, on a tour of a cave on property in Carter County. After the excursion, the group had dinner, reportedly drank to excess and then returned to the property and a cabin located there.

That’s apparently when the altercation broke out, although the actual reason was disputed between the parties. Jirka said he  was shot after he intervened in an argument between Piumbini and Nash, while Piumbini told investigators he shot Jirka in self-defense.

Jirka had severe injuries from being shot and required numerous surgeries to repair his abdomen, including reconstruction surgery.

Piumbini was charged and tried for attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault, but the jury rejected the required element of intent in attempted murder and convicted Piumbini of the lesser charge of reckless aggravated assault.

Because he had no criminal convictions resulting in jail time, Piumbini was eligible for judicial diversion. He had a prior DUI conviction in Florida, but he didn’t go to jail on that conviction.

Defense attorney Patrick Denton put on four witnesses and allowed his client to give a statement to the court that was not subject to cross examination by the state. Those who testified for Piumbini were Brandon Nash, who is Amy Nash ex-husband; Piumbini’s mother, Ana Walters; his stepfather, Steve Walters; and an employee, Elizabeth Picchietti.

Piumbini’s mother was nearly inconsolable on the stand as she talked about what a good man her son was and how devastating it would be for him to go to prison. Such a sentence would likely spur a deportation hearing, since Piumbini is not an American citizen.

Ana Walters testified she, her son and his father immigrated to the U.S. in 2006 to find a better life than in their unstable home country of Brazil. Soon after the move, Piumbini’s father died and she was left to raise him alone. Walters and her husband had started a kitchen and bath remodeling business,fd so she and her son continued to run the company.

“I cannot lose my son,” she sobbed. “If he is going to be deported I have to go back to Brazil. It’s going to destroy his future life.”

She said her son had never exhibited reckless behavior in the past, and she often got on to him for not standing up for himself.

“I’m so sorry that this happened,” she said on the stand, looking at Jirka and his family. “Filipe is very sorry, too. My job was to make him better, but I failed. I gave everything that I had to him.”

Assistant District Attorney Janet Hardin presented two witnesses — Jirka and his wife — who both testified that the shooting had devastated their lives. Jirka detailed some of the medical problems he endured — including an ostomy bag for 10 months and reconstructive intestinal surgery — as well as the financial difficulties he’s faced.

Jirka also said he’s now a candidate for cancer due to all the scar tissue in his abdomen.

In making his ruling, Street said that Piumbini “brought a gun to a fistfight” the night he shot Jirka.

After going through a list of required factors in considering judicial diversion, Street said he would grant it, but also ordered Piumbini to serve 28 days in jail. He also implemented several requirements when Piumbini is released. He must complete alcohol and drug treatment and anger management classes, he cannot drink any alcohol or take any drugs not prescribed to him and he must pay fines and restitution.

The jury imposed $6,000 in fines. There will be other court costs, and Street ordered Piumbini to pay $90,511 in outstanding medical bills to Jirka. Those payments will start Dec. 1 and Piumbini must pay $1,885 per month for the entire term of his probation.

If Piumbini completes all the requirements Street imposed, the charge could be erased from Piumbini’s record. Piumbini may also be required to remain in Tennessee for the term of his probation if Florida will not accept him, Street said.

He also had a harsh warning for Piumbini.

“If you do anything you’re not supposed to do or you don’t do something you are supposed to do, they’ll issue a violation of probation. You’ll be extradited to this state and you are going to serve that sentence,” Street said. Piumbini nodded that he understood.

Before the hearing could even get started, Denton and Assistant District Attorney Janet Hardin addressed an issue concerning Piumbini’s wife, Amy Nash Piumbini. Hardin said she had received information that Amy Nash wrote a Facebook post soliciting friends to write letters of support for her husband and to indicate they were related to him.

Street called the wife up, read her rights to her, put her under oath and asked, “Is that your post?”

Amy Nash acknowledged writing the post, but said she took it down within three minutes. But that was apparently long enough for someone to take a screenshot and send it to Hardin. Amy Nash tearfully apologized for the post and said was “a mistake.”

But Street saw it differently.

“It’s not a mistake,” the judge said sternly, “It’s possibly a crime, and it’s possibly contempt of court.”

He didn’t take any further action on that issue, but said he would consider the numerous letters written on Piumbini’s behalf in context of their contents. He also noted that from the tone of some of the letters, many people didn’t know the true story of what happened the night of the shooting.

Street did comment that some of the letters indicated the writer thought Piumbini was convicted because he’s an immigrant and that they believed he was innocent.

“Those are appaling to the court and the fact there’s no mention of the victim is appalling,” Street said.

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