Category Archives: Naples / Collier / Southwest Florida

Marco Island Man, 75, Arrested for Pulling Weeds

rollin cale

Rollin Cale

Poor Rocky Cale was arrested this week for pulling aquatic weeds. Rollin ‘Rocky’ Cale, 75, and some other members of the Model Yacht Club removed some aquatic weeds two months ago so they could launch their john boat to maintain some buoys. Apparently, this was the protocol that had been in place for years for maintaining that section of the lake. There is a Florida statute that requires a permit to remove aquatic weeds, Sec. 379.501, and makes it a misdemeanor if the person does it due to “reckless indifference or gross careless disregard,” though that does not seem to be the case for Mr. Cale, as he and his group had apparently believed that they were authorized for the removal. It looks like a bad arrest.

The backstory is that Cale, as head of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, had earlier disputes with parks manager Samantha Malloy and the city, who had ultimately locked out the Sailing Club during that dispute. So the legal action being taken now smacks of retribution for the earlier dispute, and the city is investigating how it went down. It may have started as a littering complaint for the weeds that had been pulled and were sitting there, as Malloy first contacted code enforcement, who apparently referred her to FWC, and there was a littering charge the State Attorney decided not to pursue. It is all a lot of overzealous enforcement brought on by a pile of weeds… weeds that Cale helped dispose of after he was contacted. This should have been resolved with a phone call, not by involving law enforcement.

The sad thing is, this poor 75-year-old man, who has volunteered countless hours to his community through the sailing club and the model yacht group, etc, had to go to jail over this. It was an inadvertent infraction by a whole group of people, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be the ‘reckless indifference’ necessary to sustain the charge. Mr. Cale was completely cooperative, and had no idea there was a prohibition on the plant removal. And instead of just giving him a summons with a court date, they issued a capias warrant and had him arrested and booked into jail. On top of that, the Marco Eagle reports that the weeds were scheduled to be sprayed and destroyed. He basically did them a favor, but no good deed goes unpunished. Every government official involved in this arrest should be ashamed of themselves. Sad.

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James Chandler is the Choice for Circuit Judge

james chandler

James Chandler

As early voting gets underway in the 5 county 20th judicial circuit, which includes Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, I though I’d take an opportunity to weigh in on a local race that I feel strongly about. I am writing to endorse James Chandler, who is running for Circuit Judge. I have gotten to know Mr. Chandler well over the last several years, and think he would be an excellent choice for the circuit judge position. Mr. Chandler and I both worked at the State Attorney’s office when we moved to Southwest Florida. After I went into private practice, I had cases against Mr. Chandler and found him to be fair as a prosecutor.

Chandler later went into private practice, where he handles not only criminal defense, but also civil matters such as family law. That’s important, as our circuit judges can end up handling both criminal and civil cases: Mr. Chandler has the background to handle both. Mr. Chandler is someone that I would frequently discuss my criminal cases with, for strategies and legal insight, and I feel Mr. Chandler understands the and will protect the rights and fairly adjudicate the cases of all who would appear before him. He has shown himself to be a skilled courtroom attorney, including a high-profile case we covered here in Crimcourts. Mr. Chandler has the experience, temperament, and the intangibles to be an excellent judge, and I fully endorse him for Circuit Judge.

Lisa Troemner Found Not Guilty in Marco Island Stabbing Case

lisa troemner

Lisa Troemner

After nearly a month of trial, and a second day of deliberation (the jury went home after a couple hours of deliberations yesterday evening), Lisa Troemner has been found not guilty of second degree murder. There was a chance the jury could have given her a lesser charge, but the Defense’s justifiable use of force case persuaded them, or at least gave them a reasonable doubt. In addition to Ms. Troemner testifying to her relationship with Trevor Smith, she stated that she was scared of him, that he was abusive and controlling, even violent the evening leading up to the killing (he had a BAC over .30). The Defense also presented expert testimony that she was suffering from battered spouse syndrome and even forensic expert testimony that indicated there had been a struggle at the apartment. The State countered with a week’s worth of rebuttal testimony, including counter-experts regarding battered spouse syndrome, and testimony from friends and family of Trevor Smith that in fact Troemner was the jealous, controlling party.

Troemner was facing life in prison if convicted of second degree murder, but she will likely be out of jail this afternoon. This is a huge win for Donald Day and the defense team, and another big Collier County loss for the State already this year…  and expensive after a month of trial. Troemner had been in custody since the date of the arrest, in December, 2014. There was the possibility of a lesser charge, but the jury decided completely in her favor, complete acquittal. There is no appeal on a not guilty verdict.

First reported by Hot Story: https://twitter.com/hotstorycrime/status/962027561055219713

 

State Counters Lisa Troemner’s Battered Spouse Defense in Ongoing Murder Trial

lisa troemner

Lisa Troemner

After about a week of testimony demonstrating that Lisa Troemner killed her then boyfriend, Trevor Smith, she then testified and her attorneys put on a week or so worth of testimony, including experts, that argued she was justified due to hear fear of Mr. Smith. That’s usually about where a case would normally wrap up, but the State has now spent a about a week on their rebuttal case. The have put on their own expert testimony countering the battered spouse claims, and testimony from friends and family that counter Troemner’s claims that Smith was abusive and controlling. The state countered with evidence that Troemner was jealous, and introduced test messages support their theory. Troemner testified the other day that Smith hulked out with rage, and the investigating officer saw a door that had been broken from its hinges, and it was determined he had a blood alcohol level over .300.

The State rested yesterday afternoon, and closing arguments will being this morning. The State is pushing for second degree murder, and the Defense is claiming that she should be acquitted under justifiable use of force (self defense). The jury could find her guilty as charged, which would mean up to life in prison, they could find her guilty of a lesser, such as manslaughter, which would likely result in a shorter prison sentence, or they could find her not guilty. After nearly a month-long trial, the jury may be out for a while, but a resolution is nearly at hand.

Lisa Troemner Trial Continues, She is on the Stand

lisa troemner

Lisa Troemner

The Defendant in the murder of Trevor Smith on Marco Island, has taken the stand in her own Defense. Lisa Troemner had previously admitted to stabbing her then-boyfriend to death, and her attorney indicated that she claims to be acting in self defense. She is now on the stand answering questions, as she tries to convince the jury her actions were justified.

Last week, the state rested, and the defense started presenting their case, including testimony from an expert regarding the effects of drugs and alcohol. The Defense has maintained that Ms. Troemner was acting in self-defense, but the best way for them to convince a jury is if the jury finds her testimony credible. She faces life in prison if the jury does not feel that her actions were justified and finds her guilty as charged. She could also end up with a lesser included offense, such as manslaughter, which would carry a lesser maximum sentence. NDN’s Patrick Riley is live tweeting from the courtroom.

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.