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Man denies friend slain in Fla. flirted with alleged killer’s wife

PhoNick Viverileft his friend William Christopher Pettry. | Courtesy Nick Viverito

Photo of Nick Viverito, left, and his friend, William Christopher Pettry. | Courtesy Nick Viverito

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Updated: November 11, 2012 6:19AM

The best friend of a Lake Villa man who has his throat slashed at a Florida bar over the weekend said the pals had only been making “small talk” with the suspect’s wife and remains confused as to what prompted the deadly attack.

“It makes no sense,” Nick Viverito said Tuesday, his voice wavering.

“Chris [Pettry] was a not a fighter. He was very non-confrontational.”

Viverito, the 42-year-old Pettry and an older couple the men had met earlier at their hotel had been sitting in the outdoor area of Jacksonville’s Fionn MacCool’s early Sunday when they spotted two women looking for chairs, Viverito said.

“We invited them to sit down. At first they were hesitant but they sat down,” said Viverito, of the Northwest Side.

Soon, Matthew Hinson, the husband of one of the women, also joined the group.

“I shook the guy’s hand,” Viverito said. Pettry also extended his hand to the six-foot-five, goateed man.

“We were just making small talk, introducing ourselves, saying where we were from ... . The women weren’t even the focal point of the conversation,” Viverito said.

But the banter apparently sent Hinson, 27, in a murderous rage, Jacksonville sheriff’s investigators said.

Before Pettry was killed, Viverito said Hinson, his wife and her friend left the outdoor table and went inside the bar. At some point, Pettry went inside to use the bathroom and to order another round of drinks, Viverito said. When Pettry didn’t come back after a good 20 minutes, Viverito started wondering about his whereabouts. He looked around and saw Hinson’s wife and her friend dancing on the patio. And then he saw the concerned waitress.

“She said, ‘Your friend’s lying in a pool of blood. He’s not breathing,’” Viverito said.

Viverito said he rushed inside and saw other bar patrons trying to revive the bloodied father of three.

“I was thinking, ‘What the hell happened? Please don’t let this be real,’” said Viverito.

Viverito said Pettry, who had been texting his family throughout the day, never even came close to flirting with Hinson’s wife.

“We probably said two or three words to them. . . . He loved his family. They were everything to him,” said Viverito, who trekked to Florida with his childhood friend for the Chicago Bears-Jacksonville Jaguars game. “We were like brothers.”

Hinson is a chef at a hotel, according to his LinkedIn page.

He was a culinary specialist with the Navy between 2007 and February of this year and had previously worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, according to his profile.

“Stationed on a nuclear powered submarine for the past five years. I work well under pressure,” Hinson’s LinkedIn profile summary reads. “I am very organized. I am a fast learner and the hardest worker of anyone in the world, gauranteed (sic).”

Save for several traffic tickets, Hinson, who is being held without bail on murder charges, has no prior criminal background, Duval County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard said.

Those interested in helping the Pettry family, can visit

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