KEY WEST, August 14, 2019 – A Big Pine Key man is heading to prison following his plea to battery and drunk driving-related offenses in two separate cases.
Kurt Shufelt, 52, pleaded no contest to felony battery, felony driving with a suspended license, felony driving under the influence and failure to submit to a breath test following a prior refusal. On August 8, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones sentenced him to 24 months in Florida State Prison, followed by 24 months of probation. Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist represented the state.
The battery case arose from an incident on September 12, 2018, near the Tom Thumb convenience store on Big Pine Key. Early that morning, a 36-year-old Big Pine man approached a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy and told him another man struck him. The man had a “significant puncture wound-type injury” to his mouth and blood was coming from it. The injury later required three stitches during treatment at Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon.
The victim told the deputy he was riding his bicycle out of the Tom Thumb and headed north on the U.S. 1 sidewalk when, for no apparent reason, Shufelt “swung out with his right fist” and punched him. The victim then rode to the deputy, who was parked nearby, and described his attacker, whom he called an acquaintance. While the victim was being treated by emergency responders, the deputy brought his bicycle to his girlfriend’s house. When told what happened, she said, “Why would Kurt do that?”
Deputies found Shufelt behind a dumpster near the Tom Thumb. He said the victim rode his bicycle into him while he walked on the sidewalk but denied punching him. Security footage at the store caught the battery on video. The deputy wrote the victim “did not make any aggressive actions towards Kurt in any way and based on the video, Kurt was clearly the primary aggressor.” Shufelt was arrested and taken to jail.
The drunk-driving case started out as a police response to a fight on August 29, 2018, at the Winn-Dixie plaza on Key Deer Boulevard. Witnesses described a car leaving the scene and deputies pulled it over, with Shufelt at the wheel, a short distance away on U.S. 1. Shufelt appeared impaired and his breath smelled of alcohol so a DUI investigation was initiated. He did not complete roadside sobriety exercises and was taken to the Stock Island jail to give a breath sample. Once there, he refused. He said he would provide a blood sample but later changed his mind.
Shufelt had previously been convicted of DUI on three prior occasions and driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked driver’s license on at least two prior occasions.