Category Archives: Florida Cases

Mark Sievers to go in front of Judge Tomorrow for New Trial Hearing

Mark Sievers DOC photo

Attorneys for Mark Sievers have filed a motion for new trial after his conviction and death sentence in the death of his wife, Theresa Sievers. Sievers’ attorneys have alleged several issues to be heard at the motion for new trial. The strongest claim is probably the discovery of new evidence. The motion alleges that a newly discovered letter from Sievers’ neighbor Mark Petrites proves that Petrites misled the jury about the extent of his friendship with Sievers, and that the letter helps explain why his testimony was inconsistent over the course of the case.

If the court fines that the motion is supported by evidence and that there was prejudice from the issues, the judge could grant Sievers a new trial. This doesn’t mean he would be released or acquitted, it would mean that the trial would start over again, but only if the judge is persuaded that the issues raised in the motion prejudiced Mr. Sievers and to entitle him to a new trial. The motion will be heard in court tomorrow.

Mark Sievers Sentenced to Death

Mark Sievers

Mark Sievers was sentenced to death today after being found guilty at trial of first degree murder for planning his wife’s killing. The jury found that Sievers had instigated the plan for his wife, Dr. Theresa Sievers’, murder by asking his friend Curtis Wayne Wright to carry it out. Wright traveled from Missouri with his friend Jimmy Rodgers, and the two bludgeoned Dr. Sievers in her home before travelling back to Missouri.

Curtis Wayne Wright pled guilty to murder, and agreed to testify against the others in exchange for a 25-year sentence. Rodgers was found guilty of second-degree murder in his own trial, and sentenced to life in prison. Mark Sievers was found guilty last month, and the jury recommended death during the sentencing phase. Today, the judge imposed a death sentence.

Sievers testified at the hearing today, still proclaiming his innocence, but asking for mercy. The judge indicated he would leave mercy to God, and that Sievers’ actions warranted the death penalty. As with all death penalty cases in Florida, it will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Jimmy Rodgers Trial is Underway, Opening Statements were this Morning

Jimmy Ray Rodgers

Jimmy Rodgers, one of three men charged with the murder of Dr. Teresa Sievers in her Bonita Springs home in 2015 is on trial in Fort Myers. Jury selection began last Monday, and this morning the attorneys gave their opening statements. The State argues that Rodgers traveled here with Curtis Wayne Wright, who had allegedly been hired by the third Defendant Mark Sievers, Teresa’s husband. There’s substantial evidence to show that Rodgers and Wright traveled to Southwest Florida together from Missouri, and that they were here when Sievers was beaten to death in her home.

Curtis Wayne Wright has already pled guilty to his involvement, and agreed to serve 25 years in prison in exchange for his testimony for the state. That’s obviously something that the Defense will attack as to his credibility. Further, he gave several differing statements, at least eight, according to the Defense in their opening statement. The challenge will be for the State to use Wright to prove not just that Rodgers was present, but that he participated in the crime. The State also plans to use the testimony of Rodgers’ then girlfriend, to whom Rodgers allegedly admitted to killing Dr. Sievers. However, Rodgers’ girlfriend has been paid by the state about $400 per month for the four years since the crime, so the Defense will attack her credibility as well.

Crime Scene tech Van Waus testifying

The Defense conceded in opening that Rodgers traveled to Fort Myers with Wright, but deny that he was involved in the conspiracy with Mark Sievers to commit the murder. The State’s only evidence that directly ties Rodgers to the murder itself is the testimony of Curtis Wright. Not only is there a strong attack on Wright’s credibility, but Wright admitted that he was the first to attack Sievers. He says only after he struck her a couple times did Rodgers jump in to actually kill her. Wright’s testimony will be must-see viewing. Rodgers faces the death penalty, as does Mark Sievers.

Casey Anthony Breaks her Silence

casey anthony

Casey Anthony in Court

Casey Anthony spoke publicly for the first time about her case, in which she was accused and acquitted at trial in the death of her infant daughter, Caylee. The case and trial were  media sensation, not just here in Florida, but across the country. She gave a multi-part interview to the AP, which really leaves more questions than it answers. It sounds like she has not maintained a relationship with her parents (her attorney suggested at trial that her father may have been responsible for the death of her child), and she has been living in West Palm Beach, working for the investigator that worked on the case.

 

This is the second time she’s been in the news lately. Last week, Hon. Belvin Perry, the retired judge who had presided over the case and trial, was in the news prognosticating that she may have tried to give the baby chloroform and accidentally caused her death. He concluded it was accidental, in light of no evidence of abuse of the child. That’s just his best-guessing after the fact though, there are no definitive answers as to the real reason for the tragic death of Caylee Anthony.

Curtis Wayne Wright Booked in Lee County Jail, 1st Suspect in the Theresa Sievers Murder

Curtis Wayne Wright's Lee County Mug Shot

Curtis Wayne Wright’s Lee County Mug Shot

Curtis Wayne Wright was booked into the Lee County Jail last night, and is being held without bond. He was recently extradited from Missouri to face charges in the murder of Dr. Theresa Sievers, who was found killed in her Bonita Springs home, June 29. The other suspect who has been charged, Jimmy Rodgers, is serving a Federal violation of probation sentence, and will be brought down to Florida after he completes that sentence.

Wright’s arraignment is set November 16, though all that will happen then is he will enter a not guilty plea. In the meantime, the state could call a grand jury to consider an indictment for First Degree Murder, if the evidence supports it: which could lead to a possible death sentence. Sometime after the arraignment, the discovery will be released, which will finally make more of the details public record.

My Thoughts on the Baby Chance Investigation

I spoke with Fox4 in Fort Myers the other day with some thoughts on the investigation to the missing infant from North Port, and the challenges the prosecutors will face in proving a case against the parents.

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

So far, the parents have been charged with Child Neglect, but investigators will certainly continue their investigation to see if more charges are appropriate. They may decide to file homicide charges if the determine Baby Chance was killed: but they have a proof problem not only proving who is responsible for the death, but that the child is even deceased. The parents will be extradited soon to return to Florida on the Neglect charges.

There are a lot of parallels between this case and the Casey Anthony case that went to trial a few years ago. While she was charged before they found a body, even after they found a body, she was acquitted at trial. It’s too early to tell what will happen here, as we don’t even know what happened to the Baby Chance.

The story on Fox4: http://www.scrippsmedia.com/fox4now/news/Attorney-sheds-light-on-investigation-into-the-disappearance-of-baby-Chance-331846751.html

Florida Supreme Court Examines Stand Your Ground Procedure

The Florida Supreme Court heard a case on Tuesday that takes a novel look at the Stand Your Ground Law. The current status of the law is that a defendant can file a motion for immunity, and will be entitled to a hearing on it. At that hearing, the burden is on the Defendant to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he was justified and therefore immune from prosecution. It’s an evidentiary hearing, with witnesses subject to cross examination, evidence, and argument. It very much resembles a trial without a jury.

The law currently places the burden on the Defendant to demonstrate his immunity. Jared Bretherick’s attorneys argued this week that the burden should not be on the Defendant, rather it should be up to the state to demonstrate that the Defendant is not immune from prosecution. It’s an interesting procedural argument. For comparison, when a Defendant raises a motion to suppress based on an illegal sesarch or seizure, the burden is on the state to prove that there was legal justification for the intrusion. However, the current procedure has been in effect for a few years now, and the court may choose not to disturb it. It may be several weeks before the court issues a ruling. Bretherick faces prison for the Aggravated Assault charge, but still has a right to fight the case at trial if the appeal is unsuccessful. Ironically, it appears the alleged victim has previously served a prison sentence for a road rage incident.

The lower, District Court ruling can be found here: http://www.5dca.org/Opinions/Opin2013/102813/5D12-3840.op.pdf