Category Archives: Sarasota / Southwest Florida

Friday Fun from Florida: Gator Stolen

gator-from-sarasota

The Stolen Gator

A Sarasota resident was surprised when an Alligator wandered into his yard. He didn’t need to be scared, because the gator’s mouth was already taped up. It appears the gator had recently been trapped, but that the gator had then been stolen. I guess the thief ended up with a little more than he bargained for!

via NBC-2

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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

Watch for me on Fox4 News Tonight at 10 p.m.

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

North Port parents Joseph Walsh and Kristen Bury

I spoke with Fox4 News this afternoon for a story she is working on regarding the mysterious disappearance of a 9-week old baby from North Port. Specifically, we talked about how the challenges of the case, and how hard to prosecute the case if there is only circumstantial evidence… especially if the State decides to pursue homicide charges, though no body has been found at this time. So far, they have only been charged with child neglect, but that is very much subject to change as more evidence comes in, and the prosecutor reviews the case. It is a terrible tragic case that will likely be a major story for some time to come.

Here’s the Fox4 Website: http://www.scrippsmedia.com/fox4now

Man Falls Asleep While Burglarizing Sarasota Home

Timothy Bontrager

Timothy Bontrager

29-year-old Timothy Bontrager is the next in a new wave of crime, the sleeping burglar. He broke in a house, and the homeowner got up in the morning, and found him sleeping on the couch. It’s not a burglary to sleep on someone’s couch. Unfortunately Bontrager also took the victim’s wallet and some other items, so he’s facing felony charges.  This is the second publicized case of Sleep-Burgling in the last few months, both in Florida, natch.

I should clarify, it is still against the law to break into someone’s home, even if you are only going to sleep. The offense of Burglary includes the intent to commit another offense while in the home/structure/vehicle. This guys intent was pretty clear, since he walked off with the homeowner’s property!

Earlier: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/burglar-caught-sleeping-on-the-job-literally/

Dion Davis, another recent Sleep Burglar

Dion Davis, another recent Sleep Burglar

Burglar Caught Sleeping on the Job – Literally!

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis, the Sleeping Burglar

Dion Davis must have worn himself out breaking into a Nokomis, Florida, home. The cleaning lady found him sleeping, next to a bag of jewelry he had looted from the home, and called police. He was still out cold when deputies arrived, and they were able to take a picture of him asleep on the victim’s bed, booty lying next to him.

Dion Davis

Dion Davis

Sounds like he was high, probably on an opiate or other depressant. That’s not going to be a legal defense to the Burglary of a Dwelling and Theft charges he’ll be facing.

I recently questioned a local deputy who testified that there were no cameras available for him to take pictures when he was called out to investigate. It’s a shame, he could end up missing out on the best evidence photo, ever.

Fishermen Pull 10-foot Alligator Out of Gulf of Mexico

Don't Molest Gators!

Don’t Molest Gators!

Some men fishing from a Sarasota pier saw a gator in the surf, and pulled him out before authorities could get to the scene. They could be facing charges, it is illegal to take, feed, bother or otherwise molest a gator in Florida, even one in the ocean (it’s not unusual for gators to take a swim- they don’t mind the salt.)

Remember, if a nuisance alligator seems threatening, call FWC!

Captured Gator, via WFLA

via NBC-2 : http://www.nbc-2.com/story/26482685/10-foot-alligator-caught-in-gulf-waters-off-venice-charges-possible#.VA_UjfmwKRo

The Dirtiest Trick, Revisited

A few weeks ago, I posted about what I believe to be the dirtiest trick utilized by law enforcement in their poorly-run internet sting operations: using pictures of OLDER decoys to supposedly catch pedophiles. I have personally seen cases where decoys of legal age were used to entice would-be consenting adults. I got an email yesterday that in another sting operation, in Orange County, agents were using images of decoys as old as 25 to entice their targets. I wish I could say that I was surprised. The sad truth is they claim to be chasing pedophiles, but they are using adults to lure people. There’s nothing wrong with meeting a 25-year-old on the internet, it’s the lie they slip in claiming the decoy is much younger that they use to arrest the sucker. While we don’t want adults traveling to meet underage children, our law enforcement resources are being misspent if we are pursuing people who are not actually looking to meet underage partners. The reality is even more harsh, as Florida’s draconian sentencing laws often don’t fit the crime. (See Marissa Alexander re: 10/20/Life)

Here’s a link to the image of the 25-year-old decoy: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzLomEB8bi2PTjZra3gtSFRyc0E/edit

Commentors have pointed me to the governingus.com blog that specifically follows these cases. It’s worth checking and they recently linked to a story out of Tampa by a reporter who really does some journalism and challenges the authorities. Noah Pransky used to work in the Fort Myers market, before moving on to a bigger market. We’ve linked to his stories on before on crimcourts, when he did a great expose on misuse of red light ticketing. Imagine that, the Fourth Estate keeping an eye on government intrusion.

Pransky, who is not on the defense side, unlike the author of this blog, says it perfectly, “Law enforcement may have crossed the line in going after some men who weren’t breaking the law at all.” He continues, “While many of those arrested will ultimately get well-deserved time behind bars, even if a few men were wrongly targeted by officers who were abusing their power, that’s too many victims. Those men will never be able to fully clear their names, even if their found not guilty, which is why we’re fighting for transparency, and your right to know that police aren’t engaging in entrapment.”

That reporting is especially important as the government goes further and further to invade our lives, and to keep secrets from our citizens: http://www.wired.com/2014/06/feds-seize-stingray-documents/

http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/04/15/pinellas-polk-sex-stings-public-record-refusal/7749057/