Tag Archives: charlotte

Inmates Are Still Dying at Charlotte County Prison

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Antonio Kirkland

A spate of troublesome deaths has continued this year at Charlotte Correctional Institute. Most recently, it was just revealed that inmate Antonio Kirkland was reported dead on July 10, 2017. The report was released Thursday, with no details on how he died. News-Press reporter Melissa Montoya was able to extract a telling quote from FDLE spokesperson Jessica Cary, who pointedly stated, “We don’t normally investigate deaths of natural causes.” Kirkland was serving life in prison for armed robbery, in addition to attempted murder and other charges in Pinellas.

ID Photo

Cesar Ruano

Kirkland’s death is the second to be investigated this year at CCI. In May, a 37-year-old inmate named Cesar Ruano, a.k.a. “El Diablo”, was found dead, and no information was released to date. Ruano was serving life in prison for a first-degree murder out of Miami-Dade. The News-Press article indicates there was an investigation for this death, and as Ms. Cary pointed out, they don’t usually investigate deaths of natural causes. While FDLE and DOC have not released any information, a person claiming to be Ruano’s brother commented on a Facebook post, claiming that he died in solitary confinement, crying for help.

There was another inmate death earlier this year, making Kirkland’s at least the third at CCI this year. 48-year-old Michael Diffenderfer passed away suddenly in April at CCI. He had been serving consecutive life sentences for murder and armed robbery from Palm Beach. The cause of death in his case has been reported to be natural: pulmonary embolism as a result of deep vein thrombosis. That’s according to Diffenderfer’s ex-wife… FDLE did not publicly release any information regarding that death either. We don’t have any suggestion that his death was suspicious, but no official word from FDLE, either.

The News-Press says that FDLE is still investigating three deaths from last year (2016), and another from 2015. Including the two from the last couple months, that’s six troublesome cases that are apparently still under investigation. That doesn’t include the 2014 death of Matthew Walker, who’s death was determined to be a homicide at the hands of correctional officers, but for which the State failed to secure an indictment, due in part to a botched investigation and/or cover-up. That means more than 10 criminal probes in the last few years. Coverage of that case, and others, garnered at Pulitzer Prize for the Charlotte Sun. But even their award-winning writing has not led to answers for the ongoing spate of inmate deaths. Nor has it brought an end to the growing body-count piling up at Charlotte Correctional Institute.

More coverage of Charlotte Correctional Institute is worth reading

Second Guilty Verdict in Tara Sidarovich Murder Case

tara-sidarovich

Tara Sidarovich

Today, a Charlotte County Jury found David McMannis guilty in the 2001 murder of teenager Tara Sidarovich. It was ten years before he and codefendant Phillip Barr were charged in the case. Barr was previously convicted at trial, and sentenced to life. After trial, the judge sentenced McMannis to life in prison for the crime. This kind of case is extremely difficult for prosecutors, as it was a cold case for several years, but justice has finally been served.

What’s Going on with CCSO?

ccso-badgeTwo veteran deputies were fired this week from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s office, and Sheriff Prummel commented at his press conference that they should have known better in light of their many years on the force. I was talking about the cases today with an associate, and I was reminded that there was also a case not long ago that involved stalking-related allegations.

Eric Ireland

Former CCSO Deputy Eric Ireland

Just a year ago, CCSO Deputy Eric Ireland was fired after his arrest for Official Misconduct and Perjury. He was accused by his ex-girlfriend of planting drugs on her husband, after several stalking-type behaviors that caused her to break off the affair. The story is really crazy, it’s worth clicking through for the backstory. I checked the system, and it appears that Mr. Ireland accepted a plea deal to misdemeanor perjury charge and avoided a felony conviction.

One of the allegations against against Anthony Nardi involved “potential stalking” of an off-and-on girlfriend: using the DAVID Florida Driver Database to look into men she may have been seeing. They have GPS tracking his whereabouts and the ex ultimately filed a trespass warning to keep him away from her house.

That constitutes a second creepy, stalker-like episode with another CCSO Deputy. Sheriff Prummell decried the “rash of stupid” at the force, but when it’s multiple deputies doing similar things over a period of time, there is concern that it’s not a rash, but a pattern. I commend Sheriff Prummell for acting decisively and terminating each of these troublemakers. The best way to discourage improper behavior is to show, in no uncertain terms, what standards deputies are expected to meet, and that there is no tolerance for lawbreakers.

2 Charlotte County Deputies Fired

  • ccso-badgeSheriff bemoans “Rash of Stupid”
  • Two Deputies relieved of duties for off-duty misconduct
  • The Deputies were 10 and 20-years veterans

sheriff-bill-prummellCharlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell held a difficult press conference yesterday to discuss the firing of 2 veteran Charlotte deputies. Wink news summed it up with this headline: “VIDEO: Charlotte sheriff addresses ‘rash of stupid’ among deputies” Prummell also said, In the last several months, I’ve had several deputies do some really stupid crap

Sgt. Lance Holden was fired after an investigation for an incident at a Grove City bar where he allegedly pushed another man. Deputy Anthony Nardi was fired for allegations of domestic violence and misuse of the DAVID (Florida Driver) database.

The Sheriff wants to stress that the misdeeds of a couple officers do not equate to problems with the rest of the force. Bad cops do occur. Prummell also said, “In the last several months, I’ve had several deputies do some really stupid crap, but ultimately, what we’ve seen time and time again, that our community has stood behind us.” It’s encouraging that Sheriff Prummell is discouraging misbehavior by calling it out, and holding the subpar deputies accountable.

Jail Mistreatment Suit from Charlotte County is Underway

The civil rights trial of a jail mistreatment suit from Charlotte County got started in Federal Court in Fort Myers, today. Amy Bennett Williams is covering the case for the News-Press.

Prison Beating Coverage Wins Pulitzer for Charlotte Sun

Congratulations are in order to the Charlotte Sun, specifically writers John Hackworth and Brian Gleason, for winning the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished editorial writing. They won for a series of editorial pieces regarding the beating and death of prison inmate Matthew Walker at the hands of prison guards. We discussed the incident, which was deemed by the ME to be a homicide, and the failure of the SAO to return an indictment against any of the responsible parties, here on Crimcourts a few months ago. The pattern of inmate death at CCI is troubling, and kudos are well deserved for the Charlotte Sun for fighting to bring them to light.

The headlines from the editorial articles are sobering: including, “Lies, cover-up block charges in prison death“, “Another day, another dead inmate at CCI” and finally, “Walker’s killers mostly still work at local prison“. It’s sobering to read through them, especially to realize how little has changed, in spite of these writers’ best efforts. Especially troubling is how the SAO failed to get an indictment that would have had a chance of bringing some justice, memorialized by this headline, “Prosecutors torpedo the grand jury“. Sobering stuff.

Pulitzer.org has links to all of the editorials from the winning series, it’s definitely worth a click-through to check out…

So, This Happened in Charlotte County

charlotte jail car.jpgMy attorney friend P.J. was at the jail, and snapped a photo that appears to be a Charlotte County Sheriff’s vehicle caught under a garage door at the Charlotte County Jail. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know any details, but was kind enough to share the picture. It certainly seems that a Sheriff’s Office vehicle got caught by the garage door trying to come out of the Sally Port. The jail sally doors slide down really fast, so it’s probably not an uncommon occurrence… but, the picture is kind of funny.

Somebody had a bad day…