DELAND — A man who played a role in one of the most heart-breaking, heinous murders in Lake County history has been charged with beating his girlfriend in what has been a long pattern of domestic violence, according to court records.
Manuel Yon Jr. was 16 years old on Jan. 30, 1993, when his friends Richard “Ric” Henyard, 18, and Alfonza Smalls Jr., 14, showed up at his house and asked if he wanted to go to a nightclub in Orlando.
Yon said yes, and they drove off in a stolen 1989 Chrysler Fifth Avenue.
Henyard had earlier told him that he needed money and planned to rob somebody, according to court records.
They hadn’t gone far when Henyard turned to him and said, “I shot somebody.”
“Yeah, right,” Yon said.
“I’m not joking. I shot somebody,” Henyard said, as Yon recalled the conversation.
“I got something else to tell you.”
“I raped somebody.”
“Somebody,” turned out to be Dorothy Lewis, 35, a widow who was carjacked at the Eustis Winn-Dixie, raped, shot and left for dead, and her two daughters, Jamilya, 7, and Jasmine, 3, murdered.
Yon would end up being charged with accessory after the fact after he obtained a change of clothes for the young killers, whose own clothes were blood-stained. Yon was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days in jail.
Yon had been in trouble before. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon (a stick in his back pocket). He later admitted that he went along with Henyard’s request before the shooting to “hold” a gun for him.
Witness accounts said Yon was bragging about Henyard’s exploits to friends, with the trio even showing off the .22-caliber pistol, which Henyard stole from a man he called his “grandfather.”
After returning from Orlando and ditching the stolen car, the gun was stashed in Yon’s bedroom.
Henyard, in one of the dumbest, most notorious appearances of a criminal before police, went to the Eustis Police Department in an attempt to collect a $1,000 reward and claimed Yon and Smalls were the killers.
He was talking to officers when Detective Bud Hart exclaimed, “There’s some [expletive] blood on your socks!”
“How do you know that ain’t no ketchup stain?” Henyard said.
That was nothing, however, compared to what Henyard told Lewis and the terrified children as she was praying.
“This ain’t Jesus doing this; this is Satan doing this!”
Henyard was executed in 2008. Smalls was sentenced to life in prison, but because of a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting juveniles from being sentenced to life without parole, Smalls will get a new hearing.
That hearing has not been scheduled. Among other things, prosecutors must first talk to Lewis about her wishes.
Lewis, who describes herself as a walking miracle, was shot in the knee, hit with a grazing bullet to her neck, was shot in her mouth and hit with a bullet in her forehead right between her eyes. She has recovered and talks about her ordeal in the book, “Unbroken: The Dorothy Lewis Story.”
“Even though I was faced with a mother’s worst nightmare, He never left me, and God is still carrying me through it,” she wrote.
Yon’s latest arrest occurred on May 3. A Lake County sheriff’s deputy was called to Hillside Drive near DeLand. When he arrived, he saw Yon, 42, “in the victim’s face yelling he was sorry.” The woman had a swollen face and was crying hysterically. The deputy ordered Yon to get on the ground, and as he did, another woman approached him carrying a hatchet and screaming at him to leave the victim alone. The deputy identified himself as an officer, and the woman dropped the hatchet and began thanking him for getting there.
After handcuffing Yon, the deputy interviewed the victim, who said she and Yon had started arguing and he began to punch her repeatedly in the face. The woman said Yon then picked her up and slammed her to the ground.
Meanwhile, the victim’s child went to a neighbor’s house very upset. The neighbor went outside to see what was happening and saw Yon on top of the victim, who was prone on the ground and was not responding.
Yon was charged with battery. He has been arrested at least a half dozen times in recent years for drug offenses and assaults and served a year in state prison between 2016 and 2017 for battery, drug possession and aggravated stalking.
Yon was sentenced to a year in jail for his role in helping Henyard and Yon.
In 1995 he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but the charges were dropped.
In 1997 he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced t0 33 months in state prison.
He has been arrested at least four times in battery cases.
In 2016 he was arrested in jail and charged with aggravated stalking and violating an injunction for protection after allegedly writing eight letters and making at least 11 phone calls to his victim, in most cases, by using other prisoners’ pin numbers.
Sometimes prosecutors can seek enhanced sentences for repeat offenders. It is not clear at this point what the State Attorney’s Office might do in his case.