State attorney won’t file charges after family dispute led to arrests

No charges will be filed against Key West city commission candidate Kim Highsmith or her stepson, Thomas, both of whom were arrested Tuesday, Sept. 20 on misdemeanor battery charges following a family argument.

The State Attorney’s Office filed a notice of “No Action” on behalf of both parties on Friday, Sept. 23. 

“The state of Florida declines to file charges in this case and therefore enters this “No Action” for one or more of the following reasons: Justice is not served with further prosecution,” state the two identical orders signed by Assistant State Attorney Paul Vargo. 

Thomas Highsmith, 18, admitted to police that he had thrown water on his stepmother, Kim Highsmith, during an argument between her and his father, Bobby Highsmith, according to the police report. Kim Highsmith told police she had defended herself from her stepson, who had scratches on his neck, police noted. 

“We agree entirely with the statement in the state’s dismissal; justice is not served by prosecuting these cases further,” Kim Highsmith told the Keys Weekly on Friday evening. “We are grateful to State Attorney Dennis Ward and his staff for allowing our family to resolve these issues as a family, as it should be. We’d also like to thank all those who have stood by us in these difficult times. The outpouring of love and support we’ve received has been overwhelming.”

Attorney Michael Halpern, who represented Thomas Highsmith, told the Keys Weekly, “I believe the state attorney made the right decision by allowing a family matter to be handled by the family.” Kim Highsmith was represented by attorney Richard Fowler.

Kim Highsmith emphasized that her campaign for the District 4 city commission seat “absolutely continues.” 

She received the most votes — 46% — among the four candidates in the August primary. Because no candidate received more than 50% of the votes in August, Highsmith faces  Lissette Cuervo Carey in a November runoff. Carey got 30% of the votes in August.

“Domestic disputes happen and law enforcement was called,” Kim Highsmith said in a press release issued on Thursday, Sept. 22. “We did not intend for this to escalate any further and while we disagree with the police’s decision to arrest both of us, we understand their position…. I intend to see this campaign to the end, because I love this city so much and can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

In a radio interview following the Highsmiths’ arrests Carey said she wished the family well during a difficult family situation.

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.