Jury finds former Brevard County sheriff’s deputy not guilty in murder trial

Jury deliberated for less than four hours

A former Brevard County sheriff’s deputy charged with killing a man took the stand Friday in his own defense.

VIERA, Fla. – A former Brevard County sheriff’s deputy charged with killing a man was found not guilty in a murder trial.

Yousef Hafza was on trial for murder in the death of Clarence Howard, who was fatally shot in a road rage incident in 2016, according to prosecutors.

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Hafza, who was off duty at the time of the shooting, again claimed that Howard ran toward him and threatened him while making a reaching motion, prompting him to shoot in what he said was self-defense.

Hafza said the face-to-face confrontation happened when he stopped at the intersection of Emerson Drive and St. Johns Heritage Parkway in Palm Bay because he saw another car there and he was afraid to be alone on the road as he said he was being chased.

Hafza said he didn’t have enough time to flash his badge, which was in a sheriff’s office-issued wallet in the cup holder of his vehicle.

An attorney representing Hafza used the word “terrorize” to describe the road rage his client experienced.

Howard’s family left the courtroom as Hafza testified to the manner in which he shot Howard.

Hafza is also charged with attempted second-degree murder on Jose Montanez, Howard’s brother-in-law.

Montanez testified earlier this week that when Hafza started shooting, he ducked behind his car.

“He immediately opened the door and started firing,” Montanez said.

After closing arguments the jury was given instructions and then began deliberations around 5 p.m.