- By Hannah Winston Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Charleston Banton had never carried a gun before his daughter’s ex-boyfriend walked into his auto shop and tried to kill him last year. He said he was an easy-going guy and believed that if he didn’t bother anyone, they wouldn’t bother him. Now, with a metal plate in his head and scars across his body from being stabbed several times, he doesn’t walk into work without his firearm.
“I didn’t deserve this. All I did was go into work,” he said in court Thursday morning.
Isaac Louiniste, 22, on Thursday was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Daliah Weiss. A jury on July 25 found Louiniste guilty of attempted first-degree murder, according to court records.
“Louiniste had time to walk away, rethink it, but he chose not to do that,” Weiss said. “The actions of the defendant destroyed the person that Mr. Banton was.”
On Aug. 16, 2017, Riviera Beach police said Louiniste stabbed Banton several times at his shop, Mistic Auto, off Dyer Boulevard. In an interview soon after the attack, Banton told The Palm Beach Post that he just opened his shop for business that day when Louiniste approached him asking for money. Banton said when he refused, the then-21-year-old stabbed him several times and came within an inch of his spine.
“The only place he didn’t get is my face,” he said to The Post last year.
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During sentencing Thursday, Assistant State Attorney Peter Magnani told the judge that Louiniste drove 30 minutes with a knife in his pocket before he arrived at Banton’s shop. Once he was there, he stabbed Banton in the back of the head when he turned away and then chased the older man around his auto shop and continued to slash and stab him.
“When he saw Banton lying in a pool of blood, he thought he had enough. Those are his words,” Magnani said, pointing to Louiniste.
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Banton, 48, said he thought he was going to die when the paramedics arrived the morning of the attack. To this day he questions why he lived and continues to have nightmares, he told Weiss. He said he doesn’t believe Louiniste showed any remorse.
“If he had the chance, he’d do it again,” Banton said.
Assistant Public Defender James Snowden showed a video montage of messages from friends speaking on behalf of Louiniste’s character. Friends from high school and college said that the actions of Louiniste did not represent the supportive friend they knew.
Each person in the recordings said he had a hard life growing up, coming to the country from Haiti, and had dealt with the death of his mother and issues at home, but that he was one of the strongest people they all knew. His father spoke through a Creole interpreter and asked for mercy for his son because he was his only family left.
In court, Louiniste read from a letter and apologized to his father, friends and family and then to Banton.
He said the incident stemmed from a blind rage. He said he could have driven somewhere else that morning or left, but he didn’t and won’t deny what happened.
“You didn’t deserve what happened to you,” Louiniste said.
After listening to both sides, Weiss said she could not depart from the sentencing guidelines for a lesser sentence, as Louiniste’s defense had asked for, nor did she grant the 40 years the prosecutors asked for.
“(Louiniste was a) young man, by all accounts, with a lot of promise and talent. But there was a break,” she said. “Whether it be the death of his mother, his dreams of football being crushed for whatever reason ... somehow this became the problem of an innocent victim.”