PJ Nilaja Patterson claims the encounter he had with an iguana was self-defense, claiming the 3-foot green iguana was the aggressor and that he was acting in self-defense when he killed the creature. A laceration on his arm from a bite required 22 staples to close up. Prosecutors counter that a surveillance video of the incident shows that Patterson tormented the animal, and then went into a violent rage when it bit him while defending itself. The iguana had to be put down due to the injuries suffered in the confrontation.
Patterson claimed immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, that allows the use of force when defending oneself. A judge has denied the motion, however, Patterson still has a right to argue justifiable use of force at trial.
Green Iguanas are invasive creatures, and it is permitted to kill them under Florida law, but it must be done humanely. It’s not the first time we’ve covered the inhumane killing of an iguana that led to felony animal cruelty charges. The state has cleared it’s initial burden to allow the case to go forward, but to convict him, they will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not have a reasonable fear, or that the level of force use was not justified.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen self-defense argued for the killing of an animal. In 2013, a man accused of killing a protected sandbar shark testified at trial in Fort Myers that he killed the animal in self-defense. The court rejected that claim and he was convicted at a bench trial. A man in Bonita Springs claimed self-defense (and defense of property) when he killed a bear that entered his property back in 2009. He argued that Stand Your Ground also granted him immunity, and the state argued that Stand Your Ground only applies to humans. The judge denied his motion, and he ended up agreeing to plead guilty to killing a protected species and do probation in lieu of a trial. I am not aware of any case law that goes as far to say that Stand Your Ground does not apply to animals, and the self-defense statute reads, “[a] person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another”. Fla. Stat. Sec. 776.012(2)- it does not say anything that would limit it to defending yourself (or others) against a person instead of an animal. (Law enforcement officers kill aggressive pets with some frequency, for instance, which is lawful.)
The hurdle for Mr. Patterson is that the iguana was only three feet, and they are docile vegetarians. They run away from people. If the video shows him provoking the animal, he will be unlikely to garner much sympathy from the jury, despite his injury. People don’t like it when animals die: He may explore a plea deal, but he’s facing a felony for animal cruelty.
Deputies were called out to a parking lot in Bonita Springs for a naked man… and arrived to find him rolling around in an office chair. He had on nothing but underwear and shoes. The man appeared to be drunk or high (duh), and there were complaints that some vehicles were damaged. However, nobody saw the man damage the vehicles, so he was released to relatives. They found his vehicle, with a bottle of booze in it, but didn’t see him driving the car. They also think he took furniture from a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings and scattered it around the parking lot.
I am disappointed here… they legally could have charged him with DUI on a rolling chair. It would be a crappy case, but this guy was itchin’ to get locked up. He was certainly drunk and disorderly. We don’t even get a mug shot out of it…
A few days ago, a young man walked into a Bonita Springs 7-11 with a shirt wrapped around his face. He wanted to hold the place up, but didn’t have a weapon, and tried to use his finger to scare the clerks. Maybe he meant to put it in his pocket, but whatever the case, he wasn’t too scary because they could see that all he had was a finger that he was waving around! He didn’t get any money, but trying to rob a store is still a crime and deputies are still on the lookout for the attempted robber!
There is a high burden of proof for the State to be able to take someone’s children away, and the State can’t make it at this time. While there is suspicion around Mr. Sievers, there is not evidence of an actual threat to the children at this time. The judge said the State’s case is based on “probability and speculation” and that suspicions and concerns are not sufficient in a shelter case. However, the State can seek to shelter the children at a later time, as the status of the case changes.
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.
NBC-2 caught up with Mark Sievers, the husband of the Bonita Springs doctor that was murdered a couple months ago. He has been laying low recently, but NBC found him outside his late wife’s former practice. Unsurprisingly, all he said was “No comment.”
To recap, Dr. Theresa Sievers was brutally murdered in her home in Bonita Springs. At the time, her husband and family were out of town. About a week ago, two arrests were made, and two men from Missouri have been charged in her murder. There is evidence that at least one of those men, Jimmy Rodgers, traveled to Florida at the time of her murder, and he has now admitted to it as a violation of his Federal probation on illegal gun possession charges.
The other man, Curtis Wayne Wright, was a childhood friend of Mark Sievers. Sievers has not been named as a suspect in the murders, nor as a person of interest. However, Sheriff Mike Scott has made it clear that the case is still open and the investigation continues. He has given several interviews, and declined to name Mr. Sievers as a person of interest. However, he would not rule it out on behalf of Mr. Sievers, or anyone else in the “envelope of suspicion.”
Here’s the thing that drives speculation… the major questions about the case that have gone unanswered, so far. For instance, why would Mark Sievers’ good friend commit the murder, or recruit his friend to do so? What motive do either of those men have. So far, the only known connection is their connection to Mark. There has been no indication that there was a robbery or burglary; the suspects have only been charged with murder, as far as we know. Further, Rodgers told friends that he was going to make $10,000 for his trip to Florida: where was that money coming from?
Jimmy Rodgers, of Missouri, is the man that an arrest warrant was obtained for arrest in the murder of Bonita Springs doctor, Theresa Sievers. According to NBC-2, who has owned this story, there are reports out of Missouri that people knew him as a hit man, and that he went by the nickname, “The Hammer.” While details about the murder have been closely guarded by authorities, neighbors had heard that a hammer may have been the murder weapon. Sheriff Scott previously referred to the murder as a targeted killing. NBC-2 is also reporting there is a known connection between Rodgers and Sievers’ family.
Rodgers is already in jail in Missouri on a Federal probation violation.
UPDATE: Sheriff Mike Scott has announced that another Missouri man has also been arrested in relation to the murder. Curtis Wayne Wright is apparently a childhood friend of Sievers’ husband, according to NBC-2. Also, NBC reports that Rodgers was spotted Lee County at the time of the murders, and made admissions to people in Missouri about committing the murder.
Curtis Wayne Wright’s possible Facebook photo, per NBC-2
He was previously charged with robbery for this incident in state court. That charge was ultimately dropped, and sources tell me the State had difficulty procuring the victim to testify. The accuser is of Spanish descent, and may have citizenship issues. It will be easier for the Federal government to overcome these hurdles than the State. He now faces 30 years in prison for his current charges.
If recollection serves, Ronga worked at FMPD for a while before joining LCSO, but I don’t know what the circumstances of his departure was.