Placido Moreno-Torres Found Guilty

Placido Moreno torres

Placido Moreno-Torres

A Fort Myers jury has just found Placido Moreno-Torres guilty as charged of two counts of 2nd Degree Murder, and an additional count of attempted murder, according to NBC-2. Here’s our earlier story. NBC-2 has been in the courtroom, and will surely have details, soon.

He faces 25 to Life in Prison.

UPDATE:  Sentencing set for February.

via: https://twitter.com/jbevis10

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If You Think You Have a Secret, You’re Probably Wrong

Thanks to the omnipresence of electronic devices in our lives today, somebody probably knows everything you do. You have a cell phone in your pocket, which is essentially a listening device, your computer might have a camera on it that is potentially watching your every move, HAL 9000 style, and you might even be wearing a smart watch that is literally following you every step. All of those are able to collect data, store it, and potentially share it with others… perhaps even authorities. It’s potentially an avenue for the government to get in your homes and bedrooms.

Much of this technology is new, and the courts are still trying to determine what the limitations are on privacy, and what the government can access and use. The latest test case is actually in Germany, where prosecutors are using data compiled by Apple iPhone’s Health App: an app that is standard and pre-installed on the last several versions of iPhone. The Defendant refused to give up his passcode, by a cyber-forensics firm was able to crack it and give the data to prosecutors.

There are a lot of issues related to this, particularly here in the United States where different Constitutional rights come in to play. Obviously, the rights to privacy, unreasonable search and seizure, and due process are involved, but a major case last year even involved First Amendment aspects. In Arkansas, James Bates was accused of killing his friend Victor Collins, who was found drowned in Bates’ hot tub. In order to strengthen their case, prosecutors sought info from his iPhone to track his phone calls, and even his smart utility meter to demonstrate his water use (they planned to argue that he had hosed down his deck).

The prosecution also went after Alexa- the digital assistant program that works with his Amazon Echo device. Alexa listens and potentially records everything within the range of its microphone, so there’s a major question whether people would have an expectation of privacy around one. The prosecutors sought to obtain the data, when Amazon itself entered the fray with another claim: that they should not have to turn over the data because it would violate the First Amendment… that it could have a chilling effect on protected expression.

Ultimately, the Bates case did not decide the matters. Kathleen Zellner, the attorney who is handling Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery’s post-conviction claims, took over the case and since her defense was not dependent on the Amazon data, waived any objection and it was turned over. Ultimately, it probably did not play a role, as additional medical and forensic reviews apparently convinced the prosecutors that there was not a murder, at least not one that could be proven, and the charges were dropped without the case having to go to trial.

In the meantime, be aware that there is the potential that the government can find out a lot about you, from your computer, your social media, your phone, your watch, your car, your video game, your pacemaker, and in this case, they didn’t just go after Alexa, they used Bates’ hot water heater to charge him with a murder.

Two Interesting Murder Cases in Trial in SWFL Right Now

Court watchers have a couple of choices as 2018 gets underway. Two major murder trials have started in Lee and Collier Counties, and that’s after the former Naples Officer was acquitted at trial last week.

Placido Moreno torres

Placido Moreno-Torres

In Fort Myers, the trial of Placido Moreno-Torres started yesterday: he’s on trial for murder for a 2016 incident in Lehigh Acres where he shot his wife and the neighbor who tried to intervene in their domestic dispute. It will be an interesting case, as he is likely to claim self-defense, because the neighbor came onto his property trying to break up the altercation, and only then did he retrieve the firearm. He will claim self-defense (and previously filed a stand your ground motion that was denied), but he has an uphill battle if he brought a gun to a fistfight. He is also charged with attempted murder, because after he shot the neighbor and his own wife, he held the gun to his neighbor’s sister’s head and tried to shoot her, only to have the gun misfire. There’s no self-defense argument there. He faces life in prison with a 25-year minimum under 10-20-Life. NBC-2’s Jaclyn Bevis is in the courtroom with live coverage on Twitter.

lisa troemner

Lisa Troemner

In Collier County, jury selection is underway for Lisa Troemner who is charged with killing her live-in boyfriend at their Marco Island apartment in 2014. They had apparently been arguing for a while, when it became physical, and she stabbed him. She tried to resuscitate him unsuccessfully, then went to a nearby convenience store to summon help. Again, self-defense is likely to be argued here. Also, a review of the court file indicates the Defense has sought the assistance of a false-confessions expert to challenge her statement, a blood spatter expert, presumably to challenge the findings at the crime scene. The case has been going on for more than three years, including an appeal of some matter while it was pending. She has been in custody the whole time, and is facing life in prison. There are some 150 witnesses listed, and the trial will take weeks, maybe five or more. Patrick Riley from the Naples Daily News is on this one, and has been tweeting from the courtroom as well.

Former Naples Officer Acquitted of Sex Abuse Allegations

ricardo vazquez jr

Ricardo Vazquez Jr. speaks with his attorney, James Chandler, via WINK News

Ricardo Vazquez Jr. was acquitted by a jury today in Collier County of 4 counts of sexual molestation of two minors. Vazquez had worked at a Naples police officer several years ago. One of the counts could have earned him a life sentence, due to the accuser’s age. However, there was no physical evidence to back up the allegations, only the testimony of the accusers, and there were some inconsistencies in their statements. Vazquez was convicted of 2 lesser counts of misdemeanor battery, and sentenced to time served on those, since he had been in custody since his arrest in 2016. He will be released today, and is not a felon or a sex-offender. Vazquez had denied the charges all along, took the stand in his own defense, and it was demonstrated that the accusers did not like him. The trial started on Monday, closing arguments were yesterday, and they jury took the night off, and came back today to finish their deliberations.

Vazquez was represented by Naples attorneys James Chandler and Elizabeth Humann, who did an excellent job with a tough case. I spoke to Chandler, who said, “It was a great day for the Vazquez family and I am happy that their son and brother is returning home to them. It was a hard fought and emotional trial. Now it is time for Rick to try to return to life. I am extremely proud of our team.” It was a huge win on another big case for Chandler and his firm.

The State is Trying to Force the Parents of Accused Tampa Serial Killer to Cooperate

howell donaldson trai

Howell Donaldson III

The state has charged Howell “Trai” Donaldson III with four counts of murder for a string of killings in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa in the last few weeks. The State then subpoenaed his parents, Howell Donaldson, Jr. and Rosita Donaldson, to ask them about his history, including criminal, mental health and so forth. His parents, who were concerned that the State may try to use any evidence they provided to put their son to death, refused to answer the State’s questions or to cooperate. While the concerns may be sympathetic, there is no parental privilege applicable in this circumstance.

The State moved to hold them in contempt, and a hearing was held today in court. The Judge ruled that they would have to comply with the subpoena and to testify. He has given them until January 5, 2018 to answer the prosecutors questions or risk being found in contempt of court, which could include jail time.

This is fascinating, from a legal perspective, and the first time I’ve seen something like it. They were lawfully served with a subpoena (probably an Instanter), and the judge probably correctly orders them to comply under the law. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The serial murders he is charged with are shocking, as four seemingly unconnected, innocent people were killed. The young man accused was a college graduate who was apparently polite, even with the cops that arrested him. This case will be in the headlines for some time.

DUI on a Lawnmower in Port St. Lucie

lawnmowerAnother Florida moment- a Port St. Lucie man was arrested for DUI on a lawnmower. Kenneth Alleshouse, 56, was driving erratically on an access road where he was spotted by deputies. My favorite part is that he was using his lawnmower deck to carry a case of beer, and the cops got a shot of it!

 

kenneth alleshouse

Kenneth Alleshouse

Yes, you can get a DUI on a lawnmower in Florida. Unlike a horse, a lawnmower is a vehicle on which it is prohibited to ride while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the extent one’s normal faculties are impaired. However, it is likely less dangerous than driving a car. #weirddui

Florida Woman Charged with DUI on a Horse!

donna byrne

Donna Byrne 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has charged Donna Byrne with a DUI on a horse, after she was caught riding in the road, and blew a .161, which is twice the legal limit for driving. Here’s the thing, the DUI statute specifically says driving or in actual control of a vehicle. We’ve talked about it before– the law in Florida does not provide for a DUI on a horse. She has also been charged with animal neglect and failing to provide proper protection for the horse. I doubt this qualifies as animal neglect where there is no harm to the horse (unless she did something inherently dangerous like taking it out on the highway). She may be guilty of something, but I think she can beat the DUI!