By Rafael Olmeda
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — An angry father, grieving over the death of his son in a drunken driving incident, followed the man accused of causing the crash into a courthouse bathroom Monday to dispense his own version of justice, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.
"You killed my son," the man reportedly said. "I will be watching you."
John Powers, 54, emerged from the bathroom with blood dripping from his left ear, down his neck and onto his shirt. He walked into the courtroom of Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold and immediately reported what had happened.
Deputies arrested Juan Gonzalez, 56, of Davie, and charged him with two counts of battery -- one for allegedly striking Powers several times and knocking him to the floor, and the other for grabbing the throat of Powers' friend, Jay Israel, who was also in the bathroom.
According to court records, Gonzalez has been arrested before. In 2006, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to three years' probation.
His son, Juan Gonzalez Jr., was killed in a June 12, 2011 accident at the intersection of State Road 7 and Orange Drive in Davie.
According to an arrest report for that incident, Powers was trying to make a U-turn in his 1994 Jeep Cherokee from northbound State Road 7 at Orange Drive. Gonzalez, who was traveling south on a 1997 Suzuki motorcycle, slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting the Jeep. The motorcycle skidded, slid on its side, and crashed into the Jeep. Gonzalez died from his injuries the next day.
A Davie police officer noticed the smell of alcohol on Powers' breath and several empty beer cans in the backseat and floorboard, according to the report. Powers' blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.
Powers and members of the Gonzalez family were in court Monday for an arraignment hearing. Powers is charged with DUI manslaughter and manslaughter with an unlawful blood alcohol level. He pleaded not guilty Monday.
Because he is free on a $20,000 bond, Powers was able to use the men's room just outside Gold's courtroom, which is open to the public. Gonzalez is accused of following Powers and Israel into the bathroom and confronting them.
Israel, 59, told deputies Gonzalez grabbed him by the throat, then let go and began punching Powers in the head and face, according to an arrest report. When Powers fell to the floor, Gonzalez taunted him, Israel said.
Minutes after Powers and Israel returned to the courtroom, deputies stopped Gonzalez from leaving the courthouse and brought him back to the sixth floor hallway. Gonzalez spoke only to one deputy, who communicated with him in Spanish.
Israel and Powers identified him as their attacker and said they wanted to prosecute. Gonzalez was charged with two counts of battery, misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail.
Other members of Gonzalez' family were not with him when he was arrested.
Powers' next court date on the manslaughter charges is in March.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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