Judge sets bond for Polk County tow truck company owner accused of murder

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – The Mulberry tow truck company owner accused of killing a man who had come to his business to pick up a vehicle can be released on bond.

A judge set Michael Shane Denn’s bond at $100,000.

Michael Shane Denn, defendant

The decision followed an eight-hour bond hearing on Friday that included witness testimony and the presentation of surveillance video made public for the first time.

The video, captured by surveillance cameras at Strapped Towing in May, was not handed over during a search warrant but was presented by defense months later.

At the bond hearing, the state introduced the video that shows how the deadly confrontation unfolded.

Juan Barroso, the homicide victim, showed up with others to Strapped Towing in Mulberry to pick up a vehicle that was towed from Stoll Manor in Lakeland the night before.

An argument ensued between Barroso, 35, and Marshall Denn, Michael Denn’s brother.

Officials say Marshall Denn punched Barroso through the window of his vehicle.

Then Barroso is shown on video letting a female passenger out of his vehicle, turning around and hitting Marshall Denn with his vehicle, which threw him several feet in the air.

Marshall Denn was injured but survived.

Immediately after hitting Marshall Denn, Barroso abruptly stops his vehicle and gets out, unarmed.

What happens next is the crux of this case.

The video shows Michael Denn walking towards Barroso with his gun drawn.

“They’re running towards him. He takes a couple steps towards them and then he turns to his left and starts walking towards the business,” testified Detective Angel Shireman, with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Denn then fires three quick shots. Barroso is shot in the head and falls to the ground. He was pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health.

Denn’s attorneys argue Barosso was “homicidal” and their client was acting in self-defense.

“It was lightning quick, correct?” asked attorney Rick Escobar.

“Correct,” replied Detective Shireman.

“You would agree that when you’re in a self-defense situation, you’re making decisions within split seconds, correct?” asked Escobar.

“Correct,” replied Detective Shireman.

The defense called several witnesses, including Thomas Fender, Denn’s brother-in-law, who was in the tow yard when the shooting occurred.

He testified that he feared for his life.

“Were you scared at that point in time?” asked Escobar.

“Yes, sir,” Fender replied.

“And why were you?” asked Escobar.

“He just tried to hit me with a car. What do you think he was trying to do to me? He was going to kill me or somebody,” said Fender.

The defense also called a use of force expert, although the judge said he did not take his testimony into account when he made his decision.

Denn is charged with second-degree murder.

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