Monroe County prosecutors won't pursue charges against a Key Largo resident accused of punching her daughter in the stomach as they consider the action as discipline.
Less than a week after jennifer Miller was arrested for misdemeanor battery, prosecutors cleared her.
Miller, 39, a Key Largo Fire-EMS District board member, was booked into jail Friday morning following a dispute with her teenage child outside their Buttonwood Bay home.
That evening Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Luke Bovill determined the case wasn't worthy of an arrest. He also canceled a potential meeting with the alleged victim. After discussing the case with fellow prosecutor, Mark Kohl, the charges were dropped.
"I believe that no crime was committed," Bovill wrote in an email to Kohl March 3. "I do not believe that we need to go through a victim intake on this matter."
According to the email, Bovill's decision came following a conversation with Kohl on a parent's right to discipline their children.
Kohl told The Citizen the case should have never been brought to the State Attorney's Office.
The case comes down to a "she said, she said" situation, he said.
"Who are you going to believe a runaway or pillar in the community?" he asked.
The night of the arrest,the alleged victim had just been picked up at the jail by Miller as being a runaway.
Monroe County Sheriff's Captain Don Fanelli doesn't share Kohl's opinion.
"The officers on scene determined there was probable cause a crime was committed," he said.
Fanelli said it is a difficult situation to gauge abuse under emotional situations.
"If the State Attorney's office's opinion is punching a child is discipline and not abuse, then that is their opinion," Fanelli said.
If a situation like Miller's case comes up again, Fanelli said the officers may make another arrest.
Since the arrest, Kohl has emailed Fanelli case law regarding parental discipline.
According to a Memorandum of No Action filed Wednesday by prosecutors in Monroe County Circuit Court, Miller's alleged battery is protected under the Parental Privilege of Florida. Kohl said a parent may commit battery on a child as long it doesn't raise to the level of child abuse.
"Even taking the allegations made by the victim in this case at face value, the facts do not support ... child abuse," Bovill wrote in the memorandum.
Miller did not respond to a request for comment by presstime.