The state has announced its intention to seek the death penalty against Jorge Guerrero Torres, who was indicted about a week or so ago for first degree murder in the kidnapping death of nine-year-old Diana Alvarez. Authorities located Guerrero’s phone with incriminating pornographic pictures involving the girl. He has been convicted in Federal court and sentenced to 60 years for child pornography. When he was in jail, he allegedly made incriminating statements that he killed Alvarez and hid her body, leading to the murder charges he now faces. The notice is the next step, after the grand jury indictment for first degree murder, to seek the death penalty, which has been reinstated in Florida.
Krystle Lee Anderson lost her legs after she used a BB gun to hold some people hostage, resulting in a shootout with law enforcement that caused her disability. That didn’t keep her from getting into trouble, as she failed to appear in court on the armed kidnapping and assault charges that stemmed from her Burger King shootout in 2015. Law enforcement got a tip that she was hiding at the Winter Haven home of her boyfriend, John Carr Jr.
John Robert Carr Jr.
When marshals arrived at his home, Carr claimed that she wasn’t in the home, but one of the officers knew better: he saw Carr through the window as he stuffed Anderson into a plastic storage container. Officers located her and took her into custody. Carr was also charged with resisting arrest/obstruction of justice. Florida doesn’t have a specific law against harboring a fugitive, but he could be charged as an accessory after the fact, which would be a felony. Anderson faces life in prison for her charges.
An appellate court decision came down this week that ruled that none of the lettering on your car tag can be obscured, even the “myflorida.com”. This appears to be a more strict interpretation of the law than had previously been enforced, due to language changes in the statute, and probably means that most license plate frames will be in violation. It’s not a defense if the dealer put it on there! Nor is it a defense for your tint being too dark if the dealer does it… These little nuisance violations can give the cops probable cause to stop you, even if you’re driving fine, and can result in expensive tickets!
When officers showed up, they investigated and learned that during the dispute, Ms. Reynolds had slapped her 46-year-old granddaughter, who refused to get out of bed and starting screaming and yelling obscenities at Ms. Reynolds. Unfortunately, Ms. Reynolds slapped her with the slipper she had been wearing. When she told this to the cops, she was placed under arrest and charged with domestic battery. She spent a night in jail until she could see a judge, who released her on her own recognizance.
Cops tend to think that when there is probable cause for an act of domestic violence, that they must make an arrest. I suspect that’s what they are taught during training. However, the Florida Statutes give them the discretion not to make an arrest… they just have to file a written explanation why they didn’t make an arrest in their report. The chief of Daytona Beach Police even told the press that officers don’t have discretion… and he’s flat wrong. Officers are permitted to make an arrest, but do not have to make an arrest. This clearly sounds like it would have been a good opportunity for the exercise of that discretion.
Steven Avery, whose case was documented on “Making a Murderer” had filed a motion for new trial, alleging new evidence that would support granting him a new trial. The trial court denied the motion without a hearing, indicating that Avery’s attorney Katherine Zellner, had not met the legal standard for that type of motion in Wisconsin. Currently, that ruling is being appealed, but it’s fairly early in the appellate process: Zellner has not filed her brief yet.
Brendan Dassey, the young cousin of Avery, is still fighting to get his verdict overturned. He had gone through the State appeals process, when he then got a positive ruling from a Federal judge, finding his confession was illegally obtained and dismissing the trial result. However, a Federal Appellate court overturned that ruling, reinstating his conviction. He is now petitioning to the U.S. Supreme Court. The SCOTUS only takes a relatively few cases each year, and Wisconsin will likely be filing a brief arguing that there is no issue that needs to be addressed by SCOTUS. If the Supreme Court does not hear the case, Dassey could end up filing for a new trial as Avery has done.
A Maryland Deputy had a standoff in the road with an angry groundhog: the officer tries to scare the rodent out of the roadway, and the groundhog responds aggressively. I’m not kidding… the groundhog actually charged at him. The deputy then shoots the groundhog, and then shoots him a second time to finish him off before the video concludes.
The video is shocking, and while it immediately look like an improper use of force, the reality is that the deputy does not know if that groundhog is rabid or otherwise dangerous, and he does not have to wait to find out, under the law. It almost certainly could have been handled differently, but this is facially a justified use of force case. On a gopher.
Newton (Kansas) police responded to reports of a naked man underneath a car. When they arrived, they say the man was trying to, ahem, stick his penis in the tailpipe of the vehicle. Police have requested charges for a lewd and lascivious act. The man was drunk, and probably on something else, and had to be tasered when he refused to stop having sex with the car.
SNL’s Colin Jost nailed it: “The sex was described as… exhausting.”
An overnight pooper had been striking at a track at a New Jersey high school. Feces had been found on the track daily, and authorities set up a surveillance operation to determine who had been leaving the presents every morning. Holmdel, NJ police caught the serial pooper in the act, and it turned out to be Thomas Tramaglini, who just happened to the superintendent of the neighboring Kenilworth school district. There’s been no comment, and no explanation as to why Tramaglini felt the need to leave little gifts on his morning run.
Tramaglini, 42, has been charged with lewdness and, naturally… littering. He may have a defense to the lewdness charge, which generally requires doing so with the intent of it being observed by other people, and there’s no indication that he wanted to be observed. The littering charge… that’s the kicker!
Yesterday the State Attorney’s Office and LCSO held a major press conference to announce not one, but two, grand jury indictments for first-degree murder. The first was in the high-profile disappearance of Diana Alvarez. Jorge Guerrero-Torres has been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and lewd and lascivious molestation: the first degree murder charge could be subject to the death penalty, if the State decides to seek it. Guerrero is already under a federal sentence for possession of child pornography related to the case: there was a challenge to the admission of evidence from his cell phone, but the court permitted it in the federal case, which is a good indicator in the state case. Further, NBC-2’s Jaclyn Bevis reported in December that Guerrero may have made a jailhouse confession to killing the girl and hiding her body.
The other indictment was for a much more recent case, but not the Lois Riess case… yet. The other case was in the robbery-murder of a taxi driver in Lehigh Acres just last month. Three co-defendants have been charged, and two of them are teenagers… one only 13 years old. Not many details have been released, but the State indicated today they sought the indictment due to the “horrendous nature of the crime“. 20-year-old Ricky Lagonde allegedly had a gun and threatened the victim, but the teenagers then shot him.
The other news of the day was that a press conference was held by “ARM”, the Animal Recovery Mission. ARM has been pushing for charges to be brought for some Lee County farms they allege were operating as illegal slaughterhouses and illegally selling horse meat. ARM and their investigators ran their own undercover operations, and presented videos and other evidence first to LCSO and later to the State Attorney’s office, who declined to file charges. Earlier press conferences from ARM have lead to protests against animal cruelty in Lee County. One of the concerns that the State has cited is the difficulty in introducing surreptitiously obtained videos as evidence in court, as our local State Attorney’s office learned the hard way. ARM brought their legal adviser to the session today, and he argued that since the videos were taken at a business with many people around, there was not an expectation of privacy, and that the videos would therefore be admissible. And even if the videos didn’t come in, the ARM witnesses would be available to testify. There’s a lot more to the issue, but suffice it to say, tensions are high on both sides.
Now, a cynic might point out that it was very convenient for the politicians who might be up for election this year that the big indictment announcements came on the same day as the controversial press conference. A cynic might wonder why, after almost two years, and months after the arrest and confession of Jorge Guerrero-Torres, the state obtained an indictment right before the ARMs media push: a push that has been seized on by the outsider running for State Attorney against the Chief Assistant ASA that presented the announcement today. The news of the day ended up being the new charges, and not the activists asking why the State had not moved on the ARM allegations, though it still made some news. I’m not that cynic, and I know that there are legitimate legal reasons that make it very difficult for the State to prosecute the ARM cases. That cynic might also point out that if it had been intentional timing, it was a brilliant bit of political maneuvering to control the biggest stories in the media on what was shaping up to be a bad day for people who have elections coming up.
This jamoke decided to practice his karate moves by going to the park and kicking some swans. HE kicked one in the head, and another in the rear. He also proceeded to kick a small duck who was taking a nap. An eyewitness said it appeared that the suspect, Rocco Mantella, appeared to try to kick them as hard as he could. He is facing charges for animal cruelty which, may be difficult to prove under Florida law, as it does not sound like the animals were maimed or killed… authorities can proceed on a “torment” theory.