ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The shooting death of a boat shop owner will not lead to criminal charges for his former father-in-law, who claimed self defense in a four-man family brawl outside Specialized Marine Services on March 1.
David Silva Jr., 64, of Port St. Lucie, told detectives he shot Joseph Warren Tenore, 39, twice after the man armed himself with a metal pipe and began striking his son, Joseph Bernard Tenore, 21, outside the business at 4675 N. U.S. 1.
Prosecutors said Silva’s actions likely would meet self-defense standards under the state’s “stand your ground” law, according to a Nov. 3 report released by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.
Describing a murder charge as “impossible” based on the law, the report states that prosecuting Silva for the shooting death would “most assuredly fail” and end in acquittal if the case went to trial.
An 18-page investigative report shows some of what detectives and prosecutors learned from passerby accounts and testimony from three of the four men involved in the brawl.
Joseph Warren Tenore was shot in the abdomen and right arm. Michael Sadlon, 60, was shot in the ankle. Silva and Joseph Bernard Tenore were taken to a hospital, where they were released after being treated for injuries sustained in the fight.
Without working surveillance cameras at the business, detectives and prosecutors relied heavily on testimony from the three men, according to the report.
Assistant State Attorney Justin Cormier stated in his conclusion that although Silva’s actions would not lead to charges, more could have been done to prevent the deadly exchange.
“There is a strong argument that Silva, without fear of increasing the danger to himself or Bernard Tenore, could have avoided this tragic encounter had he made an effort to retreat with his vehicle,” wrote Cormier. “However, as is now patently evident, in Florida, the present state of self-defense law does not require him to do so. It is not for this prosecutor to debate the policy, but to enforce the laws as written by the legislative branch of Florida.”
Silva told detectives he was traveling on U.S. 1 with the younger Tenore when the two stopped at the business around 6:40 p.m.
Silva had a pending civil lawsuit against Sadlon and the older Tenore based on what he said were neck injuries sustained from Sadlon “running him over” with the marine shop truck in December 2021.
He told detectives he stopped to take pictures of the truck and boat parked outside the business, which he said was evidence in his ongoing civil case against Tenore and Sadlon.
Each of the three men gave differing and sometimes conflicting accounts of who started the fight, according to the report.
In the first 911 call at 6:40 p.m., the older Tenore said, “We are being attacked by my son and ex father-in-law.”
While in another 911 call made at the same time, Silva allegedly says, “911, 911, hurry up, hurry up … They’re trying to kill us.”
Trans of a 911 call at 6:44 p.m. show the younger Tenore saying, “Please come now … We were attacked … One person was shot … The person who was shot was attacking me and my grandfather. We were being attacked by two men.”
Ultimately from their questioning, detectives determined a fight broke out among the four men. As Silva struggled with Sadlon, the older Tenore fought with his son and at some point, he went inside the business to call 911 and came back with the pipe and began hitting his son, who was then engaged with Sadlon, detectives stated.
Silva told detectives he was being pinned down and choked by Sadlon before the younger Tenore intervened, allowing him time to retrieve a gun in his shorts’ pocket and shoot Sadlon once in the ankle as he fought with Tenore.
The older Tenore returned from the shop with the pipe and began striking the younger Tenore, so he fired twice at him, reports say.
Sadlon, however, told detectives he was trying to disarm Silva, who shot him as he fled. He has filed a counterclaim in the auto negligence suit based on the shooting, according to the assistant state attorney’s report.
Sadlon also told detectives Tenore kept two firearms inside the business office, and he thought that was why he initially left the fight.