FORT MYERS, Fla. – A Florida man is facing charges in what the U.S. government says was an apparent murder on the high seas.
Casey Lowell Hickok, 32, of Copeland was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, while aboard a commercial fishing vessel 66 miles off the coast of Marco Island in the Gulf of Mexico, Hickok was witnessed bludgeoning a sleeping member of the crew to death with a spare boat alternator, which he later threw off the vessel.
The charges were filed in the Middle District of U.S. District Court in Fort Myers.
Hickok was ordered detained pending trial.If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
The charges come after a crew member reported a domestic dispute Monday morning aboard the commercial fishing boat No Bitchin’. When authorities got there, they found a man that had been allegedly beaten to death .
Aboard the fishing vessel was Hickok, as well as Capt. Yamer Jesus Perez, and a person court documents identified only as “R.H.”
Public records show that Robert Hickok, 74, is Casey Hickok’s father and had addresses in Summerland and Key West, as well as in Connecticut and Maryland.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon R. Eth, who is prosecuting the case, and William Daniels, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, declined to comment on the case.
The criminal complaint against Casey Hickok said the fishing vessel was at anchor west of Marco Island shortly after 7 a.m. when Perez contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for immediate assistance due to an injury.
Coast Guard units en route to the boat were also informed before they arrived that the injury was due to a domestic dispute.
A Coast Guard rescue swimmer boarded the boat and found an adult male, “R.H,” with significant head and face injuries and determined he was dead. The fishing boat was then escorted to the Coast Guard station at Fort Myers Beach.
During an interview with the rescue swimmer by a special agent of the Coast Guard, the swimmer said that Casey Hickok made several unsolicited remarks, including that the dead man “R.H.” was his father, according to documents related to the case.
The court documents also list the Coast Guard special agent’s interview with Perez.
Perez said he had been making repairs to the boat’s alternator using parts from a second alternator. He said Casey Hickok was awake and R.H. was asleep.
Casey Hickok offered to help, Perez said, and then picked up the second alternator, and walked to where R.H. was asleep. He said he heard Casey Hickok slam the alternator down near R.H. and then saw him strike the man in the head twice.
Perez also told the investigator that he saw Casey Hickok walk from the area where R.H. was sleeping carrying a hammer and thought that he might have struck R.H. with that tool as well.
Perez said he tried to help R.H., and said he felt the side of the man’s skull and it was soft and felt crushed.
Perez told the Coast Guard special agent that Hickok tossed the spare alternator out the cabin window into the Gulf, the report said.
Casey Hickok declined to provide a statement without an attorney present.
Court records show Hickok has a history of violence. His arrest history includes domestic violence, battery and aggravated assault. He was released March 1 from Collier County Jail after time served for a drug possession charge.
He served two terms in prison – August 2008 to February 2009 for aiding an escape in jail and December 2009 to August 2013 for aggravated assault.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Follow Michael Braun on Twitter: @MichaelBraunNP
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