Murder Trial Underway for Babysitter Accused of Murdering Child

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Rafael Carrion

Jury selection started this morning in Fort Myers in the trial of Rafael Carrion, accused in the death of a neighbor’s child that was in his care. He told investigators that the child must have fallen or something, but the injuries were severe and consistent with a violent beating. We broke the news that Carrion had just been released from prison at the time he was arrested. The child’s father told Fox 4 that he felt the mother should have been arrested, too… but there is no indication that she has been charged. Carrion is charged with second degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse, and is facing life in prison.

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A Sarasota Congressional Candidate Apparently Fabricated her College Degree

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Melissa Howard

In a contentious Republican primary in Sarasota, there have been several accusations of dishonesty against candidate Melissa Howard. The latest was that she had not graduated with a degree from her undergrad, Miami University in Ohio. [Full disclosure, that’s where I went to undergrad.] Howard disputed the claim, and called it false news, and provided an alleged photo from graduation. Of note, her campaign changed the date of her supposed graduation from 1994 to 1996. She proceeded to claim a few days later that she had flown to her parents home to collect her diploma that she says her mother had been keeping in a storage unit. To finally convince everyone that she had graduated, she posted a picture of herself with a Miami University diploma from 1996, declaring that Melissa Marie Fox, her maiden name, had received a degree in marketing. FlaNews took down their report, and she called on her opponent to ‘stop the lies‘. But the story didn’t stop there.

 

howardThe Howard campaign took some of the graduation claims down from her web page on Friday, and FlaNews continued to dig. The University confirmed that Howard had not received a degree in ’94 or ’96, and that the diploma did not appear legitimate. FlaNews reposted their story with more… Miami University does not have a degree in marketing: had she majored in marketing, it would have been a bachelor’s of science in business. Also, the dean whose signature appears on the diploma is not the correct dean, suggesting that the diploma had been fabricated.

Howard has been silent since the latest story was posted, and her campaign adviser says she is dealing with a medical issue with her husband. At this point, it’s hard to even take her word for that. I did not know her from my time at Miami, but I was several years behind, and it’s a bigger school than most realize. Her time there also likely overlapped with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who graduated in 1992. Fortunately for her party, this all came out before the primary, and the other candidate will likely get to ride the truth into the general election.

***UPDATE***

I found a LinkedIn profile that appears to be hers, where she indicates she studied at Miami from 1990-94, and then took a job in Chicago after 1994. It’s possible she was just a credit short, and earned a credit to fix it up while she was working as a merchandiser in Chicago… but, it’s suspicious to say the least. I bet she comes out with a statement this week withdrawing, and apologizing saying she was really close but never finished the graduation requirements…

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Alleged Cop-Killer Desmaret Indicted for First Degree Murder

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Wisner Desmaret

A grand jury has returned an indictment for First Degree Murder against Wisner Desmaret, the man accused of killing FMPD Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller. A grand jury indictment is a necessary step in Florida to proceed on First Degree Murder charges, and may be the next step toward the state seeking the death penalty. The grand jury found evidence that he killed Jobbers-Miller with premeditated design or in the course of committing a violent felony (resisting an officer with violence), in addition to additional charges of Resisting with Violence, Robbery, Depriving an Officer of Means of Protection, Attempted Murder and Aggravated Assault on other officers, and Burglary and Grand Theft. The police report indicates that Wisner, a former boxer, knocked Jobbers-Miller down, took his gun, and shot him in the head while he was still on the ground. He then fired at two other officers, one of whom shot Wisner before he was taken into custody.

Wisner is set for arraignment on August 27, though that may be moved up, since the indictment has been filed. Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox was the prosecutor who obtained the indictment, and will likely be handling the case.

More Complaints About and Lies by Chris Crowley

Wink News ran a story today after pulling Chris Crowley’s personnel file from his time at the State Attorney’s office. We’ve already discussed how he was fired for his incompetence, but Wink dug deeper and pulled his file to see there were complaints that he made other prosecutors feel uncomfortable. Much of what they found was previously disclosed on the “This is Chris” website, which we have also linked before.

Crowley also says that there are several prosecutors that have left the office because they did not like working for Amira Fox as a supervisor, but he provided no names, and none have come forward. There is no evidence to support this claim.

Crowley also says there “is corruption at the state attorney’s office…” Crowley is lying. Not only is there no evidence of corruption at the State Attorney’s office, there is evidence demonstrating otherwise. When it came to light that Crowley committed a felony by running a raffle at his fundraiser, the State Attorney’s office referred the case away to FDLE, and asked for another State Attorney’s office to be appointed. And they were, the charges were filed by the 10th Circuit SAO. As stated by former prosecutor Ian Mann, “Crowley claims there is a conspiracy against him,” Mann said, adding that if that was true the conspiracy would have to include Fox, Russell, the governor, Haas, Hill and others. “All of those people would have to be involved in a conspiracy against him.”

Crowley claims it is not a coincidence that a month ago he said remove the corrupt official and a month later he was booked in jail. However, the correlation is not what he claims. It’s not a coincidence because a month ago he broke the law and that’s why he went to jail. He has admitted he broke the law, (it was on tape,) and he is lying when he claims corruption put him in jail. He broke the law. He admitted to it. That’s why he went to jail.

Chris Crowley committed a felony. He now keeps lying about corruption. He is dishonest. He is not qualified to be the chief law enforcement officer for the 20th Judicial Circuit.

What to know about the Chris Crowley Arrest

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Crowley: in flagrante delicto

State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley was arrested and charged with two felonies yesterday. He’s trying to mislead on what that means. Here’s what you need to know:

Crowley committed a crime… two, actually. His offenses were on tape. He has admitted guilt for his crimes. One charge was for holding a raffle: only registered non-profits can hold raffles. The other was for illegally soliciting campaign funds. That’s why Crowley went to jail.

There is no law enforcement corruption here, quite the opposite. The local State Attorney did not handle the case, so there would be no conflict. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) handled the investigation, and the State Attorney’s office for the 10th Judicial Circuit (out of Bartow), handled the prosecution decisions and the negotiations. When Crowley claims corruption, he is lying.

The amount of money does not matter. The crime was not how much money he raised, but that he solicited it and raised it illegally.

It is also irrelevant that he gave the money back. The robber is not exonerated if he gives back the purse when he is caught. This is a mitigating factor, but it does not excuse the fact that he committed two felonies. Nor is it a defense that the illegal raffle was done ‘in good faith.’ It is the duty of the candidate to follow the campaign laws.

Crowley says “Amira Fox had me arrested.” That is also a lie. He was arrested because he committed felonies. The office that Ms. Fox works for, the State Attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit, did not handle the case. Crowley has provided zero evidence that Ms. Fox had anything to do with his arrest. Crowley says he wants to be tough on crime, but he does not want to be truthful about his own crime that put him in jail today.

Finally, the case has not already been ‘effectively dismissed’ with just a fine. Crowley has signed a pretrial diversion contract. That means that when he completes certain requirements, the charges will be dropped… but it hasn’t happened yet. He likely will be supervised by the State Probation department for at least six months, in addition to fines and other financial obligations. This is a common resolution for a first time offender. It does not suggest that the charges are not appropriate, but that Crowley is getting a break since he doesn’t have any history. He’s lucky that the 10th Circuit prosecutors did not try to make a “tough on crime” example out of him.

Chris Crowley Arrested! Charged with Felonies

  • Chris Crowley has just been arrested for two felonies for his campaign activities.
  • Crowley is running for State Attorney.
  • Crowley has been stating his will be tough on crime.
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Crowley, illegally selling raffle tickets

NBC-2 is reporting that State Attorney Candidate Chris Crowley has been arrested and charged with two felonies. A warrant was issued and Crowley turned himself in. We covered the alleged illegal activity several weeks ago on Crimcourts. The case is going to be handled by another circuit prosecutor, due to the possible conflict of interest. He is charged with operating a lottery and violating campaign law.

Crowley was seen at a campaign fundraiser promoting 50/50 raffle tickets to raise money for his campaign. He later posted the video of the activity himself, which is an illegal lottery and a campaign violation. When interviewed by NBC-2, he admitted the 50/50 raffle, and said he didn’t deposit the money. For the record, ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for someone running to be the chief law enforcement officer.

Our previous story on Crowley’s illegal campaign activity is here, and we did a story on reports of his incompetence as a prosecutor here.

 

The First ‘Lake Boyz’ Racketeering Trial is drawing to a Close

Closing arguments are under way in the Racketeering trial of four men who are allegedly members of the “Lake Boyz” gang that have been charged as part of a major organized crime case in Fort Myers. There are so many co-defendants, that the court decided to separate them into multiple trials, and the first group is facing trial, four men, who all have trafficking charges, and one of them has additional drug sale charges. To prove racketeering, that is “RICO”, similar to the type of case that you might see from a mob or other organized crime prosecution, the State has to prove that there is an ongoing criminal operation, and that each of the defendants committed crimes in furtherance of that ongoing criminal operation.

The challenge for prosecutors, which was apparent from the initial warrants in the present case, is that while the State can prove that these defendants have committed prior crimes, there is a challenge in proving that the crimes were in furtherance of the criminal prosecution. Some of the prior offenses are as insignificant as marijuana possession, and it’s hard to demonstrate that simple possession is in furtherance of a criminal enterprise. A lot of crimes can be in furtherance of a criminal episode: drug sales, stealing for profit, violence to support gang activities: the challenge for the state is to prove to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt that these crimes were committed in furtherance of the criminal activity.

Many times to make that showing, the government will use an informant. Sometimes they are able to embed an undercover agent into the criminal enterprise, which is nice as they are generally able to give more credible testimony (think Donnie Brasco). However, that’s difficult, dangerous and expensive. Other times, the government will rely on a criminal informant, who may be willing to cooperate due to facing their own criminal charges, or because they are being paid for their assistance. Either way, informants can be less reliable witnesses, but they can be important for the state to prove that there is a criminal enterprise, and that crimes were committed in furtherance of the enterprise… in this case, a gang.

The State utilized several informants in their case against the alleged Lake Boyz on trial the last three weeks. However, the testimony of the informants was not as strong as they likely would have hoped. Listening to the closing arguments, it sounds like they denied knowledge of any of the Defendants being in the gang, working for the gang, taking orders from the gang, or doing things for the benefit of the gang. The State flipped one of the co-defendants as one of their informants, and he denied being a gang member. I didn’t get to see all the evidence, and I’m not on the jury, but the State has a big hurdle to clear in this case, in spite of the gang signs and rap videos. They have a problem trying to prove the enterprise, and the furtherance of the enterprise, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Closing arguments will wrap up this evening, and then it will be in the jury’s hands. I’m sure they will try to wrap it up tonight, but the judge has indicated he’s willing to come back over the weekend to finish the trial.