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Accused Florida Wife-Beater: The Virus Made Me Do It

Luis Suriel, 45, was arrested for domestic abuse on Aug. 8. His family said he was sick with COVID-19 and hallucinating and acted erratically. [Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office]

‘COVID-19 defense’ used in Florida domestic violence case

Palm Beach Post – A 34-year-old Palm Beach County woman woke up startled and found her boyfriend and father of her young child hovering over her.

He said he had visions of God and needed to remove the demon within her, according to a sheriff’s report.

Luis Suriel then struck her at least three times with a belt, leaving deep welts, deputies said.

Now Suriel’s attorney and family say that his erratic behavior was caused by COVID-19, resulting in a fever that made him delusional with hallucinations.

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Suriel, 45, may very well be the first in Palm Beach County to employ a novel defense based on the novel coronavirus.

His actions were so erratic that deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office committed him under the Baker Act for mental health evaluation, his lawyer said.

“This just shows that even the officer knew he was out of his mind,” said attorney Mike Rabideau.

The handyman was then later booked for domestic violence and placed on the medical ward of the jail.

Forbes and other news outlets have reported that brain damage and hallucination have been associated with even mild COVID-19 infections.

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Suriel, in an interview with The Palm Beach Post, said when he started feeling ill in mid-July he went to a walk-in clinic to get tested, but the results didn’t come back for 17 days.

During that time, Suriel said he was in contact with his family and about 40 people, thinking he didn’t have the virus but a bout of pneumonia.

Suriel even ended up traveling to Atlanta twice to deal with a family emergency involving his 16-year-old son who lives in that city. But his illness worsened … Read more. 

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