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Police believe beating that left Sarasotan in coma was revenge

11-21-2003 Florida:

.SARASOTA, Fla. - Police say an 18-year-old who has been in a coma for two weeks was the victim of a vigilante beating. Detectives said Timothy Kriner repeatedly was punched in the head by 22-year-old Damien Coccaro, who suspected Kriner of raping a family member, said Sgt. Chuck Lesaltato, Sarasota County Sheriff's spokesman. The Sheriff's Office has not determined whether Kriner and the girl had sex, either consensual or forced, Lesaltato said.

"This is a perfect example of someone trying to take the law into their own hands," he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "That's not the way you should handle it, because now he's in jail. He should have waited for the Sheriff's Office to do our job." Coccaro, arrested a few hours after the beating, was freed on $5,000 bail Wednesday. He is charged with aggravated battery. Kriner was in critical condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg Thursday.

According to a law enforcement report, Kriner and the 17-year-old girl were at a party on Nov. 8 when they went into a room together. Accounts differ as to what happened next. Detectives said witnesses told them the girl, as she left the room, said "she felt bad because she had cheated on her boyfriend with Kriner." She later told people at the party that she had been raped.

Coccaro's attorney, Derek Byrd, said the girl has told everyone all along that Kriner raped her. He said she didn't even have a boyfriend. Her torn clothing and horrified look persuaded the people at the party that she was telling the truth, the attorney said. "It's not like he decided, 'I'm going to kill him.'" Byrd said of Coccaro. "If that was his intention, he would have gone to get a weapon ..." Byrd said Coccaro works as a cook and had no criminal record. ..more.. : by Associated Press

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