Monthly Archives: April 2013

Attorney Spencer Cordell Will Be on Ask a Lawyer Tomorrow Morning

I’ll be on B 103.9 with Big Mama and the Wild Bunch for their ask a lawyer segment at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Tune in and check it out!

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George Zimmerman Formally Waives Pretrial Immunity Hearing

Zimmerman with Attorney Mark O'Mara

Zimmerman with Attorney Mark O’Mara

We’ve already covered reports that this was the plan by the defense team, and why Crimcourts does not disagree with this strategic decision. Today’s hearing formalized that course of action with the court. George Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara suggested that they still plan to argue immunity at trial, which is not prohibited by the Stand Your Ground law, but that they are eager to have the jury rule on the facts. That sounds nice, but I think the decision more reflects the legal challenges of winning the motion and is really a strategic choice. It appears the case is still on track for a June 10 trial date.

Lehigh Acres Man Charged with Pointing Gun at Reporters

Jeremiah Mayo

Jeremiah Mayo

Two NBC staffers were following up on a burglary story in Lehigh on Wednesday, when a man pulled up, got out of a car, and pulled a gun on them. The man was Jeremiah Mayo. the brother of the burglary victims. He told cops that he had a couple of friends killed recently, and says he was spooked by the burglary the night before. Mayo and his sister claim that while he had the gun out, he didn’t point it at the reporters. Both reporters say he pointed the gun at them until they drove off.

This is going to be a fascinating case. Mayo does not have any local history of violence or felony charges, and he was presumably in lawful possession of the firearm. Due to the break in and friends who had been killed, the fear that the strange vehicle in his driveway could have been someone wanting to hurt him may have been reasonable. Since he didn’t fire the gun, he did not rise to the level of using deadly force. Plus there is a fact question about whether he pointed the gun at the vehicle. His argument will be that he had a reasonable fear of harm, and was justified in using minimal force to scare off the unknown subjects. On the other hand, since the reporters were not making any threats, he may not have been justified.

NBC Reporter Meaghan Smith bio pic

NBC Reporter Meaghan Smith bio pic

Just because someone is on your property is not legal justification to pull a gun on them. Reporter Meaghan Smith and her cameraman were certainly afraid for their lives and had no ill will prior to being threatened. There has to be some actual threat so as to give someone a reasonable fear of harm. It requires more than having a car parked in your driveway. Mayo may be able to demonstrate that fear due to the crimes that had recently affected him.

I urge everyone that if there is a reason to be afraid, the last thing they should do is confront someone. Mayo may ultimately be found to be justified in his actions, but right now he is out on a $30,000 bail and facing 2 second degree felonies. He would be far better off if he had just kept driving and called the Sheriff’s office.

New Suspect Arrested in Ricin Case

James Dutschke

James Dutschke

We covered the erroneous arrest and subsequent release of the man erroneously charged with sending the Ricin letters to President Obama and others: an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis. Curtis has been exonerated and all charges dropped. The arrest of new suspect James Dutschke, who was an acquaintance with some history of disagreement, suggests that he may have framed Curtis by attributing the letters to him. But let’s not jump to conclusions, the government has already made one major blunder in this case by arresting the wrong guy without any direct evidence.

https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/charges-dropped-against-ricin-suspect-elvis-impersonator/

The News-Press Looks at Shortcomings in Florida’s Mental Health Assistance

The News-Press article is well done, and worth a read. Dr. Frederick Schaerf, who is extremely well thought of in the legal community in Southwest Florida gets to the heart of the issue: even if there are improvements in the Baker Act (involuntary commitment), that treatment doesn’t necessarily follow after the evaluation. Baker Acts save lives of people who are in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, but the system does not adequately follow through for the continuing needs of the mentally ill. Many times these people fall through the crack, and frequently end up in the criminal system. Check out the article on the News-Press:

http://www.news-press.com/article/20130428/NEWS0120/304280033/Baker-Act-fixes-Not-enough-not-soon-enough-

The City of Cape Coral is Trying to Ban Elmo

Elmo at Auto Sound

Elmo at Auto Sound

They’re not trying to ban Elmo completely, but they are considering a ban on signage like the larger-than-life Elmo robot that stands in front of Auto Sound Cape Coral. City leaders are examining the signage ordinance, and may make amendments that would prohibit such things as moving mannequins like Elmo, and other signage such as people holding, flipping, and dancing with signs. It’s comforting that this is the most serious issue facing the city right now. According to the News-Press, the City is not anti-Elmo. Also, a quick drive around will make the abundance of signs immediately noticeable…

Cape Signs

Cape Signs

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013304250020

UPDATE: Here’s  Auto Sound with Elmo and the 2 female mannequins. They are all mechanized and move their signs around!

Auto Sounds Cape Coral

Auto Sound Cape Coral

 

Auto Sound Cape Coral

Auto Sound Cape Coral

Amanda Knox to Stand Trial for Murder Again

The Italian Supreme Court, which recently overturned Ms. Knox’s acquittal, has ruled today that she must once again stand trial for the murder of her former roommate. Her boyfriend at the time, Raffaelle Sollecito will also be tried again. The confessed killer, Rudy Guede, is still serving his sentence for the killings after being convicted separately. Prosecutors still believe Ms. Knox and her former boyfriend were involved in the killings, despite the fact that her statement is wholly inconsistent with Mr. Guede’s killing of Ms. Kercher.

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox

CBS recently aired the new documentary, “Central Park Five”, about five young men/boys were interrogated under intimidating circumstances, and ultimately convicted for a horrible crime in spite of the fact the stories they gave were inconsistent and frequently incorrect on details. The tainted confessions doomed their case, in spite of the fact that there was a serial rapist who’s MO matched the crime. The way the statements were extracted  and the way the inconsistencies of Ms. Knox’s case mimic the incorrect statements of the Central Park Five made me think of the Knox case as I was watching it. Definitely check it out for an examination of how false confessions can happen, and how they can over power the surrounding evidence of a case.

Here’s our previous coverage of Knox’s case, the ‘Foxy Knoxy’ case as it was dubbed by the tabloids: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/category/criminal-law/amanda-knox/