87-Year-Old Man Dies After Being Punched in the Face by a Golfer Upset Over an Accident (That Didn't Happen)

(AP Photo/John Locher)

I defended a man a few years ago on a battery charge. It was a fight at a golf course. My guy and his brother had just completed a round of golf. The brother said something pretty nasty to a woman. Her boyfriend came out of the bathroom and got into a “fight” with the client’s brother. My client came to the brother’s defense when the boyfriend started swinging.

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The girlfriend was behind my client, and she was inadvertently hit on her forearm by my client’s fist. The problem was the woman was a bleeder. Her arm, barely touched, looked like it had been run through a meat grinder.  She pressed charges, and my guy was convicted. That was an expensive day of golf for everyone.

Golfers can be a weird lot. Nonsense fights break out on golf courses and in course parking lots more than you think. Mixing in alcohol with men trying to prove they are tough guys can result in bad things happening. Most fights are just ridiculous dances. Fortunately, most men don’t know how to fight and usually punch a lot of air. The best tactic is to act like an adult. Generally, that requires just a few seconds of thought. Just a few. Often that is too much to ask. If those few seconds are occupied with violence rather than reflection, the result can be tragic.

In June, a Florida man named Robert Edward Moore had completed a round of golf. He had just exited the course restaurant when he assumed that a much older man had hit his Lexus.

Moore reportedly said, “What the hell, you hit my car!”

An 87-year-old man named Dean William Zook had bumped the front of a Lexus while parking his own car. The Lexus Zook had bumped wasn’t Moore’s car.

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Zook was trying to exchange insurance information with Moore when he was punched in the face by Moore. It was only after Moore had hit the older man that Moore realized that it wasn’t his car that was struck. It was someone else’s Lexus. Moore reportedly went back into the restaurant, ran into a waitress, spilled a tray of drinks she was carrying, and then left in his undamaged Lexus.

The police arrived, and when the injured man started to slur his speech, EMS was called. The battered Zook was taken to the hospital, diagnosed with a brain bleed, and died from his injuries 18 days later. Zook spent the last two weeks of his life in hospice because Moore couldn’t control himself.

The police found Moore because he had purchased dinner (and likely drinks) at the restaurant before the one-sided fight. The police did a Google search of “Robert Moore” and found a photo of him. He had posted a photo of himself after a hole-in-one the year before. He was identified as the man who punched the other man because he was wearing the same clothes as he had on in the photo from the year before.

The police then went to Moore’s home and interviewed him. Moore claimed that he didn’t flee the scene, that the victim had started it by putting his hands on Moore’s shirt, and that Moore “didn’t know” how old the other guy was. All of those excuses are weak defenses. In any event, the entire exchange is on surveillance video.

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The police didn’t buy Moore’s story. Moore was arrested on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person. In Florida, that charge carries up to 30 years in prison.

If Moore is convicted or pleads to a lesser offense, he is very likely to serve time. He will also undoubtedly be sued by the dead man’s wife, costing him perhaps his life’s savings. He “allegedly” killed a man and ruined his own life because he lacked self-control, punching an old man over an offense that never happened.

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