Rubio canvasser pleads the Fifth under oath when questioned about 'political attack'
Florida senator Marco Rubio. (MSNBC/screenshot)

It's been only a few weeks since a Republican canvasser wearing a Marco Rubio T-shirt said he was beaten up on the east side of Hialeah, a Miami suburb.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio went so far as to tweet that the canvasser was attacked by “animals who told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.”

But in court on Monday, a defense attorney probed accuser Christopher Monzon about what he claimed happened. The attorney for one of the alleged attackers, Jonathan Casanova said that the fight actually happened as a result of a "testosterone-filled fisticuffs because Monzon was staring at his client’s girlfriend," reported the Herald.

"Even the prosecutor said he did not believe politics had anything to do with the incident, instead urging the judge that the 'case should be looked at on the facts,'" they said according to the story.

“So you agree with me you didn’t tell them,” said Penate Hernandez, an assistant public defender.

“I mentioned the word ‘canvassing,’ which implied they had a problem with me canvassing there,” Monzon said. He went on to say “it was my interpretation of what happened.”

The judge in the case also agreed not to keep the other alleged attacker, Javier Lopez, in prison during the trial, after he said prosecutors established enough evidence that Lopez may have committed a crime, but the surveillance videos “do not clearly reflect who was the initial aggressor in this incident.”

When lawyers peppered Monzon with questions, there were some he refused to answer, including whether he changed his story after Rubio's tweet. It was after he saw Rubio's tweet he told police detectives it was politically motivated.

“You want the world to believe that this is a politically motivated crime,” Penate Hernandez asked.

“What I want is the truth,” Monzon claimed.

Monzon's story is that he was walking past Lopez's house while canvassing for GOP votes. He was looking down at his phone when the two men began talking to him about walking too close to Lopez's car. Monzon said he tried explaining what he was doing and the men told him he had “to leave the neighborhood and that my life is now in danger.”

They taunted him, he said and threatened to shoot him. Then they rushed him.

The lawyers for the two men say that it was Monzone who was the aggressor and that he was upset he was being taunted. Instead of walking away, he re-engaged the men.

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“This case is basically a he-said-she-said,” public defender Penate Hernandez said. “At the very least, it shows evidence of mutual combat.”

When Lopez and Casanova started telling him to leave and “do your job — he walked back toward them. Monzon admitted he didn’t just walk away."

“You were so scared for your life that you walked toward the threat,” Penate Hernandez said.

“Yes, because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned my back,” Monzon replied.

The video appears to show that Lopez was the one backing up away from Monzon.

Penate Hernandez also asked Monzon why there were members of the right-wing militia group the Proud Boys visiting him in the hospital.

“I plead the fifth on the grounds I was not conscious at the time,” Monzon claimed.

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Ironically, prosecutors don't have to prove Lopez and Casanova's motives for the attack one way or another. What will be part of the case is whether the young men were involved in self-defense or if it was about "mutual combat." If it can be declared that, under Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" any person can use force if they feel there is a threat.

Penate Hernandez also asked about the overwhelming publicity that Monzon has recieved as a result of the attack.

“But you were very happy that it happened,” she asked. “You were very honored that it happened.”

Monzon told her, “I said I appreciated it.”

See the full report at the Miami Herald.