DUI on a Golf Cart, and the Suspect Growled at Cops, and much, much more

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Parks Thornton Terry

Parks Terry, of St. Louis, Missouri, got WAY out of control on his recent Florida Keys vacation. It started out pretty typically: he had too much to drink and passed out in his vehicle. Being that he was on vacation in Key Largo, his vehicle was a golf cart. He was in town visiting his elderly mother. When he was awoken by a public safety officer, he drove off on the cart, weaving all over the road, first waving at the officer, and then flipping him off. It went downhill from there.

Terry got back to his mom’s house and locked the door. One of the public safety officers tried to force his way into the house, and Terry’s mother barricaded the door by leaning up against it, while Terry laid down and pushed it with his feet. Another officer entered through another door, and was attacked by Terry. As more officers and deputies responded, they ultimately attempted to taser Terry, who grabbed the stun gun. Deputies say that he was tacked, and growled at them like a dog, while rubbing his face on broken glass on the floor.

It several people to finally cuff Terry. They carried him out and placed him in the back of the patrol car, where he continued to lash out. He kicked the door and broke the handle and the window switch. He yelled obscenities at the deputy the whole ride to the substation, which was on a whole other island, Plantation Key, some 40 minutes or more away, with a pit stop at the hospital. Deputies report Terry suffered a dislocated shoulder at some point during the altercation. He is facing charges for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting with Violence, Fleeing, Criminal Mischief, and a DUI. All of those except the DUI are felonies.

It appears that the officers other than the deputies may be sworn officers. If they are merely security officers privately employed, Terry’s aggression toward them would not be protected like the deputies’. For instance, battery on a security guard wouldn’t qualify for the law enforcement enhancement, and fleeing is only a crime if a vehicle flees a sworn law enforcement officer. They may be sworn officers, but it’s uncertain. The DUI and fleeing charges can occur in any vehicle, so it would not be a defense for Terry that he was driving a golf cart, as we’ve seen before. Even if it was a sweet red custom job-golf cart! This appears to be the first DUI we’ve covered on a golf cart… congrats, Terry!

Hopefully some pictures and/or video will come out from this incident, and we’ll be sure to share them here.

Marijuana Update for Florida: Still a Crime

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Nikki Fried

Don’t forget, it is still a crime to possess marijuana or anything marijuana related in the State of Florida. New Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried announced yesterday she is going to name a cannabis director to oversee issues related to medical marijuana, agricultural hemp and marijuana edibles. I’m sharing this not just to highlight her efforts to improve the regulatory system for Floridians, which we support, but to remind everyone that it is still a crime to possess marijuana without that card. Even a little bit of marijuana is a crime, even a pipe is a crime, and any amount of oil containing THC is a felony. Conviction for any drug offense also carries a mandatory driver’s license suspension.

The fact that Florida has medical marijuana does not mean that it’s OK to carry around some weed. The laws are still being enforced, and sometimes aggressively. If you do get caught, contact your attorney right away!

It’s Illegal to Hold Someone Hostage with an Alligator

isaias garcias

Isaias Garcia

As the leading authority on Alligator related laws, I have to say this is something that I would not have thought needed explanation. It’s not really an alligator-specific law… it’s pretty much unlawful anywhere to restrain someone through the threat of harm. This week a Texas man plead guilty to one count of unlawful restraint after he allegedly made a ransom claim for $800 in an alleged kidnapping in Connecticut. When the victim contacted his aunt, he asked for the money to be set free, then sent a proof of life photo: which featured the victim lying in a bathtub, with a 3-foot alligator sitting on top of him.

Police traced the ransom call to a hotel room, and there they found the defendant’s girlfriend and the aforementioned crocodilian. However, the Defendant and alleged victim were nowhere to be found at that time. Police ended up charging Garcia with kidnapping, larceny by extortion, and unlawful restraint.

However, the facts of the case started showing flaws. “Our investigation developed information that contradicted the original statement of facts,” Garcia’s lawyer, Senior Assistant Public Defender Jonathan Demirjian, told the judge. For instance, after the ransom call… the phone was used to order some Chinese food. Prosecutors eventually agreed to let Garcia plea to the lesser count of unlawful restraint. He will be sentenced in March. Still, let this be a reminder, don’t threaten people with alligators.

Apparently the gator was rescued, unharmed.

More on the Kevin Spacey Defense Gambit

spacey cnn.pngI wrote yesterday how the Spacey defense team, led by attorney Alan Jackson, filed what initially appeared to be a rather unimpressive motion to preserve evidence. But, I soon realized that the reason the motion was filed was more about putting the defense theory on record: making their argument in formal court documents which then filtered to the press. Not only that, the arguments were made without having to give any statements, much less any sworn testimony, and it has already served to rebut the charges and spread doubt about the allegations, which already appears to have landed an impact with some of the year-round Nantucket residents that will constitute the potential jury pool.

The screencapture on the left is from the front page of CNN.com, which shows that the motion made pretty big news, and it stayed on the front page much of the next day. It also got a headline on The Drudge Report that indicated that Spacey claims the victim “lied about his age” and was flirting, which linked to the story on the NY Daily News. That’s some effective lawyering. The ongoing challenge for the defense team will to be to discourage the management team from releasing videos that fail to further the defense narrative the defense is building.

Alleged Cop-Killer Desmaret to be Evaluated for Competency

wisner desmaret

Wisner Desmaret

The man charged in the killing of Fort Myers police officer Adam Jobbers-Miller has been ordered to undergo a competency evaluation to determine if he is able to stand trial at this time. Wisner Desmaret will be evaluated by qualified doctors to determine whether his current mental state can support going to trial a this time. One has to be severely impaired to be found incompetent, essentially the experts would have to find that he was unable to understand the charges, the court process, or to effectively assist his attorneys in his defense. If he is found incompetent at this time, that does not mean that he can not be prosecuted, as the state can attempt to restore his competency (through medication and counseling) and he can be brought to trial if his competency is restored.

The evaluation was expected, as there have been previous questions of his competency in his previous cases. He has been found incompetent multiple times, and on one occasion, the court found that his competency was not restorable, based on expert testimony presented. However, another judge found that after restoration treatment, that his competency had been restored, which led to his release from a Sarasota county jail not long before he killed Officer Jobbers-Miller. If he is found incompetent, he will likely remain in custody until his competency is restored, at which point he will face trial for First-Degree Murder. The state has filed their intention to seek the death penalty against him.

Twins Arrested for Burglary: I wonder what their Defense Will Be?

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Douglas and David (or is is David and Douglas) Null

A pair of twins from Cape Coral, David and Douglas Null, have been arrested for burglary of a local business. Needless to say, there are challenges inherent in identifying the culprit anytime an alternative suspect can be identified. The article doesn’t explain why there were charged (there is also a juvenile co-defendant)… but I suspect I know what each of them will argue. They will have to get separate attorneys!

Kevin Spacey’s Legal Defense Team Made a Clever Gambit

Actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with a felony count of indecent assault and battery in Nantucket, Massachusetts. He is accused of groping a then-18-year-old bus boy at a restaurant where the young man worked in 2016. Spacey has been accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, but this is the only one that has yet resulted in criminal charges. The charges were only filed after publicity, including press conferences by the alleged victim and his mother, who is a former news anchor on Boston TV. The case is a problematic one, as the accuser lied about his age, returned to accept several drinks Spacey bought him, and even traded phone numbers with Spacey before the alleged unwanted advance. Prosecutors will have a very difficult time proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, a point that has been well explained elsewhere.

I write today to discuss an action that Spacey’s defense lawyers took this week that I think is clever. They filed a motion to ask the court to order preservation of records, specifically texts and other digital correspondence from the accuser in the case. Initially, I was surprised because a motion to preserve doesn’t have much effect on a criminal case: the government is bound to not only preserve evidence, but to turn it over to the defense in the discovery process. They even have to turn over evidence that is helpful to the defense, known as Brady material. So why would they bother filing such a motion.

Then, reading about the motion on CNN.com, it occurred to me that the thrust of the article was about the defense argument being put forth by the defense attorneys. The article lays out the arguments of the defense, then the State, and circles back around to reiterate the ‘highlights’ of the Defense motion. While the motion claims its primary purpose is to preserve the evidence, the real purpose of the motion was twofold: to rebut the filings of the State and start sharing facts positive to the defense in a public forum, and also to shift the discussion away from Spacey’s arraignment. The arraignment dominated the news cycle, but the most recent story, at least at CNN.com, counters the allegations and makes a cogent defense argument to the general public. A clever gambit by a defense team that is helping their client in the public forum as well as the legal forum.