Ex-spouse takes deal in assault — (St. Petersburg Times)

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St. Petersburg Times

April 13, 1994

Author: DAN DeWITT
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Walter Rubino says he does not know why he drove his car through the wall of his former wife’s house, but he does know that he didn’t mean to kill her.   “If I had attempted to murder her, I would have chosen a different means,” said Rubino, 47, during an interview Monday afternoon.

“It’s not as though I walked in with a .357 (-caliber Magnum pistol).”

Rubino originally was charged with nine offenses, including three counts of attempted first-degree murder. On Monday, however, he pleaded no contest to reduced charges of attempted third-degree murder, aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery.

His sentencing tentatively is scheduled for May 6. State guidelines call for between 2« and 3 1/3 years in prison, said his attorney, Raymond Gross of Clearwater.

Gross agreed with his client that there was not enough proof for a charge of attempted first-degree murder.  “An attempted first-degree murder is a first-degree murder that fails,” Gross said.

It would require proof that Rubino had made “a fully formed conscious attempt” to kill, which clearly was not in the evidence, Gross said.

Assistant State Attorney Patricia McCarthy said she agreed to the settlement because it satisfied the Sheriff’s Office and the family.

In fact, Kathy Rubino, who was Walter Rubino’s estranged wife at the time and is now divorced from him, asked to settle the matter Monday just before the trial was scheduled to begin, McCarthy said.

Kathy Rubino was not available for comment Monday. But her version of events, related in the court file and in a previous interview, was that the incident occurred when she tried to break away from a long and abusive relationship.

She had filed for a domestic violence restraining order against Rubino and then for divorce shortly before he crashed into her home Aug. 1. According to court records, she had previously filed for court protection in 1988, when the two of them lived near Pittsburgh.

After the crash, according to court records, Rubino jumped out of the car and began beating his wife with a brass lamp.

Rubino said all that information is fabricated. Their marriage had been deteriorating because he had an accident in 1992 that caused back injuries, while studying to be a registered nurse, like his wife.

After the accident, he was incapacitated. She began cheating with the man who was in the house with her at the time of the accident, Gino Caraballo, and used the abuse claims as a way to kick him out of the house, Rubino said.

After the accident, he did not hit his wife, he said. Instead Caraballo  “pulled me out of the car and beat the crap out of me.”

He does not remember why he drove into the house.

He said he had been taking painkillers, anti-depressants and muscle relaxants and had been drinking at a bar earlier in the day.

When he decided to head to another bar, he drove by the house the couple had bought together “”and something snapped,” he said. “I don’t remember why. If I did, I’d have a better defense.”

Dateline:  BROOKSVILLE
Record Number:  123