Woman sues man in Punta Gorda, accused of spitting, yelling racial slurs

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Donald Hart Mueller, 73. Credit: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

An attack that started over mangoes is now going to criminal and civil court. A man is accused of shouting racial slurs at two women and spitting on them. This happened in Punta Gorda back in June.

We spoke with one of the victim’s attorneys Wednesday, who says she is dealing with PTSD from the dispute.

A confrontation 73-year-old Donald Hart Mueller was involved in landed him in jail. He faces charges for two counts of burglary with assault or battery.

“Often times when we get these phone calls, they are not caught on video,” said attorney Carlos Cavengo, who is representing a woman involved in the confrontation. “Luckily, her passenger caught it on video and without that, we wouldn’t have much of a case.”

Cavenago, with Parvey & Frankel Attorneys, represents Katrina Montonardo.

Montonardo was in the driver’s seat of a car during a confrontation with Mueller. The woman behind the camera was her cousin, Leiya.

“[Katrina] is extremely distraught, and it’s really apparent she’s been suffering from post-traumatic stress,” Cavengo said.

For that reason, Montonardo plans to take Mueller to civil court.

The cousins told police the dispute started as they picked mangoes from a yard in Punta Gorda Isles. The homeowner later told police they had permission.

But Mueller thought they also took fruit from his yard, a few blocks away.

Punta Gorda Police Department told us the case doesn’t classify as a hate crime.

Cavengo says Mueller caused intentional emotional distress and battery by spitting, and Montonardo is now suing Mueller for $30,000 and is demanding a trial by jury.

“I hope that this lawsuit sends a message that there is no excuse for this type of conduct on anybody within our community,” Cavengo said.

Mueller is out of jail on bond.

A service processor will serve the complaint to Mueller in person, and he or his attorney will have 20 days to respond. We reached out to his attorney for comment and have not yet heard back.

Mueller is due back in court Aug. 10 for criminal arraignment on the burglary with battery charges.

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