Physical altercation leads to charges against a brother in Lightsey cattle operation

Cary Lightsey , right leaves the courtroom after a hearing for his brother Layne Lightsey in court In Bartow Fl.  Friday May 30 ,2023.The brothers with the Lightsey Cattle Company have been feuding over control of the many businesses they have. Earlier this year Layne Lightsey was accused of battery on Cary Lightsey, who is over 65 years old. The hearing is about the charge against Layne who did not attend the hearing.Ernst Peters/The Ledger

A lawsuit that threatens to tear apart the Lightsey Cattle Co. has turned from a paper battle in court to a physical altercation involving the Lightsey brothers and resulted in one of them facing a felony domestic battery charge.

Layne Lightsey, 73, of Lake Wales waived his right to appear in court Tuesday on a charge of domestic violence battery on a person older than 65 before 10th Circuit Court Judge Catherine L. Combee in Bartow.

Layne Lightsey is accused of grabbing his brother’s cell phone from his hand and pushing him on the shoulder following a verbal confrontation in which he called Cary Lightsey a “Snake in the grass,” among other things, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office charging affidavit said.

A sheriff’s deputy was called to the family ranch along Sam Keen Road on Nov. 17 for a report of a disturbance between the co-owners of Lightsey Cattle Co. He took a sworn recorded statement from Cary Lightsey about the incident sometime after their 6:30 a.m. workday had already started, the affidavit said.

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“For the past two years there has been animosity between them over a civil case concerning their family business,” the affidavit said. “This morning (11/17/2022) Layne began arguing with him and calling him names like ‘Scumball’ and ‘Snake in the grass’ and was video recording him with his cell phone.”

Cary Lightsey, 70, of Lake Wales had backed away and got in his truck as his brother followed him, so he got out of the truck and walked away, according to the affidavit. Layne Lightsey continued to follow him closely and continued the name calling, including saying he was a “low life,” it said.

As Cary Lightsey tried to use his cell phone to begin his own recording of the incident, Layne Lightsey grabbed his brother’s phone from his hand, the affidavit said. As Cary Lightsey tried to retrieve his phone, he alleged that his brother pushed him on his left shoulder and tried to punch him.

The deputy also took a sworn statement from a witness who corroborated the events “except he stated no violence occurred.” The witness also stated that it was possible it occurred, but he did not see it.

Layne Lightsey was later called by the deputy and met for an interview. He told the deputy that he confronted Cary Lightsey over an incident involving his son but said he did not push his brother.

Neither of the Lightseys’ phones had any video of the incident, the affidavit said. Layne Lightsey was arrested about 11 a.m. that day and charged with the third-degree felony.

Layne Lightsey was released without bond the same day of his arrest and later the State Attorney’s Office filed a “no bill” with the court, effectively dropping the charge, court records show. But later the State Attorney refiled the charge.

The State Attorney's Office did not respond to a question as to why the charge was refiled.

Initially, Layne Lightsey’s pretrial release had conditions of no contact with his brother, but his lawyer, Lee Adam Cohen, asked Combee to allow him access to his home at 2230 Sam Keen Road and his commercial shop from noon to 8 p.m. daily but was not to enter the adjacent commercial office, only 500 feet away.

Combee ordered the change to the pretrial release conditions on March 10, court records show.

In the most recent court filings on May 24, depositions are pending for July 24 for Cary Lightsey, the witness and the deputies involved in the investigation.

Cary Lightsey sat in the viewing area of the court on Tuesday with his lawyer, Victor Smith. Smith did not answer a reporter’s questions as to why they were in courtroom.

In the only mention of the Lightsey case in court Tuesday, Cohen explained to Combee that depositions were set for July. She then set a pretrial hearing for July 25, the day after the depositions. 

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Domestic violence charge pending against brother in Lightsey Cattle Co.