Category Archives: Miami / South Florida

Miami ‘Baby Lollipops’ Child Murder Conviction Overturned

ana cardona

Ana Maria Cardona, via DOC

Ana Maria Cardona, the first woman on Florida’s death row for killing her own child, has had her conviction reversed a second time. While the Florida Supreme Court found that ample evidence was presented to allow the jury to find her guilty, the Court ruled that Prosecutors erred by using inappropriate, inflammatory arguments. “As we have stated for decades, we expect and require prosecutors, as representatives of the state, to refrain from engaging in inflammatory and abusive arguments, to maintain their objectivity, and to behave in a professional manner…” Cardona will be given a new trial, though the death penalty will be in question as the death sentencing procedure in place at the time of the offense has been found to be unconstitutional.

This was Cardona’s second trial, and the first was also thrown out for prosecutorial ‘error’. The court found that the prosecutors failed to disclose additional, contradictory statements, which is a clear violation of the discovery rules. Cardona will still face a third trial, and mandatory life in prison if convicted, even if the death penalty is reinstated.

None of these opinions say that she did not do it, nor that her actions were not horrible. The poor child was found beaten and abandoned, dubbed ‘Baby Lollipops’ by the press as investigators sought to determine who the child was. While the facts are atrocious, and supported the Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel [HAC] findings, the court is simply requiring the state to make appropriate arguments. It often seems that the prosecutors are held to a higher burden of decorum when presenting their case than defense attorneys… I certainly felt that way when I was a prosecutor, but it’s appropriate to ensure that the government act in an appropriate and ethical manner at all times. Any time the freedoms, and especially the life, of a citizen is on the line, there must be no indication of improper influence to obtain a conviction.

 

Why’s This Guy Smiling after he got popped going 110 on Alligator Alley?

  • Noe Dejesus was arrested for DUI in Collier County after being clocked at 109 coming across Alligator Alley
  • Dejesus was butt naked when cops pulled him out of the car

 

Noe DeJesus

Noe Dejesus

Law enforcement received several calls of a car driving recklessly, and soon thereafter, troopers spotted Mr. Dejesus’ Cadillac going about 110 on I-75 Alligator Alley. Troopers pulled him over, and observed alcoholic beverage containers in the car. When they asked him to step out, they found out that he was completely naked.

Also inside the car were three women, several beer bottles, and a nearly empty bottle of Crown Royal Whiskey. They asked Dejesus to complete field sobriety exercises, but he declined to do so, and was arrested for DUI and driving without a license, both misdemeanors. Judging by his mug shot… he might have decided it was worth it.

It is unknown where he was coming from, but he was heading in the direction of his home in Lehigh Acres, and from the direction if he had been in Miami. No information was given about his lady friends.

via NDN.

Has FWC Been Lying to US About Alligator Harassment Laws?

  • The Haligator, Hal Kreitman, the Alligator Whisperer, arrested
  • FWC is misrepresenting the law regarding alligator harassment
  • The Alligator Whisperer should not be facing a felony
Alligator Warning Sign

Alligator Warning Sign

FWC, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission, has been telling everyone for years that it is illegal to harass alligators, Florida’s official state reptile. Signs like the one on the left warn people against feeding or molesting (which means to bother them, not in a sexual context). So it came as no surprise a week or so ago when FWC arrested Hal Kreitman, the “Haligator”, the self-proclaimed ‘Alligator Whistperer’ for “harassment of a protected species” according to their press release on Facebook. However, after a review of the laws related to Alligator protection; I’m not sure that FWC is right about the charges they have leveled.

Hal "Haligator" Kreitman, courtesy FWC

Hal “Haligator” Kreitman, courtesy FWC

Who is the Alligator Whisperer? According to a profile by Kyle Swenson of the new times, “Florida’s Best Alligator Whisperer is a Sex-Partying, Bodybuilding Felonious Chiropractor.” Having been convicted of multiple counts of fraud related to an insurance-fraud scheme at the chiropractor’s office where he worked, Mr. Kreitman was in a low place when he ventured out into the Everglades and decided to get close to alligators. He started interacting with them, and then began advertising an “Alligator Experience“, where he would take tourists out into the Everglades for an exceptionally close encounter with wildlife. Unfortunately for him, the ads and media coverage caught FWC’s attention, and he was arrested after an undercover operation, as documented by the local CBS affiliate.

Kreitman has been charged, among other things, with a felony, under the statute prohibiting “Illegal killing, possessing, or capturing of alligators…” Here’s the problem… he did not kill, injure, possess, or capture any alligators, nor attempt to do so. FWC thinks that “harrasing” alligators is a crime, but it’s not according to the statutes. FWC claims in its “case of the week” press release that interacting with alligators “in this manner in the wild is considered harassment of a protected species, and it is illegal under Florida Statute.” Except, it’s not. The law does not say what FWC claims it says. The statute is written to prevent poaching of alligators, at no point does it say anything about the “harassment” of alligators. The FWC wants the law to read how they interpret it, but the plain language does not prohibit interacting with alligators, and the State has improperly charged Mr, Kreitman with a felony. The FWC is wrong, and they have been misleading us the whole time.

There is a separate law against feeding alligators, or enticing them with food. So far I haven’t read any news reports that indicate that anyone saw the alligators being fed. Reports indicate that a quantity of raw meat was found in Mr. Kreitman’s vehicle, though Mr. Kreitman has indicated on his Alligator Experience Facebook page that there was no warrant when the vehicle was searched. Another violation of Mr. Kreitman’s rights by FWC, who apparently is not that up to speed on either the alligator statutes or the Constitution. The feeding alligator charge is only a second degree misdemeanor, the lowest level of criminal offense… much less serious than a felony.

Haligator in Action, via his Facebook page

Haligator in Action, via his Facebook page

Mr. Kreitman has apparently responded on his Facebook page, “if there’s anybody that thinks I did anything wrong legally or not please express your opinion. FWC keep your dukes up because we’re going to have a fight and you’re going to lose you drummed upl malicious charges. intent to kill capture or possess an alligator and or its eggs you have nothing to charge me laugh but make up one charge give me an ROR on that and laughed at it too..you don’t realize I’m doing good out there but I can’t wait to see you in court so I know you’re reading this I love how you said you had an intense sting operation I was expecting you you didn’t think I knew that girl that called me wasn’t one of you.”

The government has sought to revoke Mr. Kreitman’s bond based on the charges, but according to his attorney, Ed Salantrie, the judge has not revoked it at this time. Kreitman also spoke to Sky News, and denied doing anything wrong. Even Good Morning America has gotten in on the story. After reading the felony statute, and not the FWC ‘company line’ claim that harassment is a crime, I have to disagree with FWC. The felony charge appears to be wrongly filed.

For more info:

  • check out the original bio: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2014/10/hal_kreitman_is_having_a.php
  • Definitely read and watch the CBS story: http://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/10/31/journey-into-the-everglades-with-the-alligator-whisperer/
  • And Mr. Kreitman, the Haligator, has been updating responses on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gatorexpierence
  • The FWC has resources, but check out the actual alligator statutes, which FWC has conveniently compiled here: http://myfwc.com/media/1531908/alligator_rules_booklet.pdf

Now, even though the law may not prohibit interacting with alligators, it is still a bad idea. When alligators lose their fear of humans, they are more likely to approach, and become more dangerous. The next person who comes along could be more likely to be attacked, it might be some kid, and the alligator could end up being destroyed. Also, alligators are dangerous and you could lose a body part, or as they say on Gator Boys, you “could be consumed (consumed means eaten.)” Please enjoy our wildlife at a distance.

Shaq is a Cop Again

Shaq. Apparently he played basketball, too

Shaq. Apparently he played basketball, too

Shaquille O’Neal, former NBA basketball player and move genie, is revisiting his love of law enforcement. He recently got a gig as a reserve officer for the Doral, FL, Police Department. As a reserve officer, O’Neal won’t be paid, or go on any SWAT runs (unlike Chuck Norris… Does Doral PD have an MRAP?), but he will speak to kids at events and that sort of thing. And he’ll get a uniform and badge, which I am sure is his primary interest in joining up with another police force! I think it’s great that he’s supporting law enforcement, and showing a positive influence for kids in the community. Keep it up, Shaq!

Happy Friday!

via NY blogs: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2014/09/shaq_flouts_dorals_smoking_ban_gets_cop_job_despite_hookah_habit.php

Justin Bieber Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges in DUI Arrest Case

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

Justin Bieber pled out to lesser charges stemming from his DUI arrest in Miami. According to CNN, he pled to Careless driving, which is a civil infraction, and resisting arrest, which is a misdemeanor. It’s unusual in Florida to plea a case all the way down to a careless, but the DUI case was exceptionally weak. We pointed out some problems on this blog before, but I hadn’t seen that GPS evidence further disproved the cops’ allegation that there was a drag race. The car was slowing down at the time the cop claimed it was racing!

The plea deal includes anger management classes, and a major donation to a youth charity. Biebs avoids a BS DUI, and underprivileged kids get financial help: it’s a win-win plea offer. 

Another Arrest for Video Taping Police

It happened a few weeks ago, but the story just broke yesterday. Miami resident Lazaro Estrada video taped an arrest, and was arrested on an obstruction of justice charge. The officer went so far as to write that he felt threatened by Estrada. The benefit of having things on tape, is the event is fully recorded, and we can all review the video to see exactly what happened. The police say the report speaks for itself, and unfortunately for them, it doesn’t jibe with the video. The best part, if when Estrada asks what he is being arrested for, and the cop audibly stutters as he tries to come up with an offense.

Let me reiterate here, it is absolutely NOT against the law to record officers. An officer who arrests someone for recording him is violating that person’s rights. Frankly, it is even more concerning when the officer tries to trump up a charge to justify his actions: it’s akin to lying to cover up doing something wrong. And the only way officers will stop violating people’s rights in this way is if they are held accountable: both by their departments, and potentially through lawsuits.

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/04/28/man-arrested-after-taping-arrest-with-cell-phone/

Justin Bieber Could Be Deported

  • Criminal charges can lead to deportation, even for people living here legally

 

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

CNN takes a look at the possibility of Justin Bieber being deported, as does the International Business Times. They suggest he’s receiving special treatment, but there’s no indication of that. He hasn’t been convicted of anything, so it would be unlikely for them to commence deportation proceedings. And the article is correct that he could have deportation consequences for a plea deal, but he likely won’t take a deal that would have such consequences. Instead, they will try to work out a deal that doesn’t have immigration ramifications, such as avoiding drug possesssion charges, or crimes involving moral turpitude. Justin Bieber is not worried about getting deported at this point.

The CNN article brings up a point that may surprise many people: President Obama’s administration has deported more people than any other president. They refer to him as the “deporter-in-chief”. The increased aggressiveness of the immigration officials has certainly affected the way criminal defense attorneys approach cases when an immigrant is charged, even on minor offenses and when they are legal residents.