Tag Archives: david brener

Attorney David Brener is Still Missing

Fort Myers attorney David Brener, who until recently was the attorney for accused Zombicon shooter Jose Bonilla, has gone missing for several months. Brener first failed to appear for a court date for a client he was representing that had been set for trial back in October, 2018. The judge issued an order to show cause, which orders the attorney to appear before the court to show why he should not be held in contempt for missing the court appearance. That order was served on him at a subsequent court date on a different case, and the hearing started on October 8, 2018. The hearing was continued to October 17, but Brener failed to appear again. According to court documents, Brener failed to appear for a third time, and the court issued a Writ of Bodily Attachment: a pickup order for law enforcement to arrest Brener and bring him before the court, and a contempt of court case was initiated against him.

brenerBrener has not been seen since those missed hearings. Since that time, several of the clients he represented have appeared in court without representation, and the court has appointed several of them attorneys, and other have retained new attorneys. Brener also failed to appear on the pending battery charge he was facing, and a new warrant has been issued in that case. FDLE lists him as a wanted person for the outstanding warrant, the last known address is vacant. Brener has also been formally suspended by the Florida Bar since November, 2018.

What’s odd about the missed court dates is that it doesn’t seem to be something that would cause someone to flee. It’s a simple contempt charge, not a sever charge. Brener was facing a felony the year before, and appeared for trial on that case in spite of facing years in prison, and he was acquitted. Brener does have another pending issue, a lawsuit alleging that he took $120,000 in legal fees to represent Mark Gaver, but did not earn the fees. Gaver is a Bonita Springs man who was prosecuted in a $50 million bank fraud scheme. Gaver was convicted at trial in Maryland and sentenced to 17 years in prison. That’s not a nice person to make angry. Also, at least one of the other Defendants that had hired Brener has expressed frustration standing in court without their lawyer, saying they had paid Brener a lot of money for their representation. Looks like all those Defendants are out of luck. No word on Brener’s whereabouts, of whether or not foul play was involved.

Will the Alleged Zombicon Killer get a Bond?

jose bonilla

Jose Bonilla

At first appearance yesterday, Jose Bonilla’s attorney David Brener asked the judge to continue the case to today’s first appearance so he could have an opportunity to review the 17-page Motion for Pretrial Detention that the state filed. The motion is essentially a request to hold the Defendant without a bond, and will need to be scheduled for a hearing before the soon-to-be-assigned trial judge within five days.  That motion hasn’t been released yet, so we do not yet know the facts from the investigation that makes the State believe that Mr. Bonilla was the Zombicon shooter: which Mr. Brener will likely argue either at today’s first appearance, or at the pretrial detention motion hearing in a few days.


news bonilla1I gave some comments to the news the other day: though at this point, we don’t know much until the underlying facts are released. FMPD has said that Bonilla was identified early in their investigation, but we don’t know what changed that caused them to move now, but they are still actively requesting any additional information.

Here’s the NBC-2 story:

UPDATE: No Bond for now, to be reconsidered at hearing next week.

Trial Underway for Alleged Police Shooter in Cape Coral

Yousel Rivera

Yousel Rivera

Jury selection began yesterday in the case of Yousel Rivera, who allegedly shot Cape Coral Police Officer David Wagoner. The shooting was caught on tape. Fortunately, Officer Wagoner survived. Rivera faces life in prison if convicted as charged, for Attempted First Degree Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer With a Firearm. He must be sentenced to at least 25 years to Life, if convicted, under the 10-20-Life law. The News-Press did a pretty thorough article today, quoting me extensively about some thoughts on the trial. I used to work for Mr. Russell, and when I was a prosecutor, tried a murder case with Ms. Scalise, who are the prosecutors handling the case. They are very good, as is Mr. Rivera’s attorney, David Brener. Court watchers will get to see some of the most talented criminal practitioners over the next week or so of this trial.


Ann Sturm Pleads Guilty to Reduced Manslaughter Charge

Ann Sturm

Ann Sturm

Ms. Sturm had been facing Second Degree Murder charges for the killing of her former personal trainer, Susan Foanio. She could have received up to life in prison, as charged. She has been in custody since 2008, and will have credit for that time already served, meaning she could be out in about 5 years. Her attorney, David Brener, has indicated she was suffering severe mental illness at the time of the shooting. Her case has gone on for so long, due in great part to the ongoing mental health evaluations and treatment that Ms. Sturm has been undergoing while in custody.

See also: http://www.nbc-2.com/story/21931517/woman-takes-plea-deal-in-2008-killing#.UWW8GrWkqeY

Day Care Killing case set for trial this week

Alleged Day Care Killer Robert Dunn

According to witnesses, on Jan. 25, 2008, Robert Dunn walked into the day care where his estranged wife worked, and shot her to death in front of the children she cared for.  Louise Zoller wrested the firearm away from him, but not until fatal shots had been fired.  An injunction had been previously entered against Mr. Dunn, prohibiting him from contacting the ex, Bobbie Noonan, or to go to her place of employment.

The state is seeking the death penalty in his first degree murder case, which is set for trial this week.  Trial call is on Monday, which will be a preliminary hearing to see if there’s any reason the trial shouldn’t proceed, probably on Tuesday.  There’s always the possibility of a last-minute continuance, but buzz around the courthouse is that the case should begin on Tuesday with Jury selection, and last at least until next week.

In a fascinating peek into the Defense planning for the case, Mr. Dunn filed a motion to have his attorney removed from the case.  That’s not unusual, but what is unusual is that his motion described his theory of the case.  According to Mr. Dunn, he was unloading the weapon (making it safe) when Ms. Zoller took it and accidentally killed Ms. Noonan.  This is rather far-fetched.  Dunn’s attorney David Brener apparently declined to proceed under this theory of defense, and according to Dunn, admonished him for wanting to go after “the hero.” In spite of Mr. Brener’s wise counsel, Dunn wished to proceed under that theory, and tried to have Brener taken off the case in order to do so.  His request was denied at hearing.

While the motion will not prevent Mr. Brener from proceeding on a more logical defense theory, it will prevent Mr.Dunn from taking the stand and trying to tell a different story, now that he has given his version of events.  He could try to change the story, but he will have zero credibility.  Such are the difficulties of “allegedly” being caught red-handed after committing a crime in front of multiple witnesses.  This may not be a case where Dunn has a shot at getting off, and it may take an exceptional effort by Brener to keep his client out of the electric chair, as the case is strong.  Perhaps a lesser-charge can be obtained, but it certainly looks like premeditated murder when if he obtained a weapon, went to her place of work when he wasn’t allowed to go there, and blew her away.  Mr. Dunn’s iffy mental state will certainly be an issue, if not for guilt, then for mitigation at the death-penalty stage of the case, if it goes that far.

Crimcourts will have updates as the case progresses.  The last couple of times the State has sought the death penalty in the 20th Circuit, they were able to convict the Defendants (Fred Cooper in the Gateway murders, Kemar Johnson in the Cash Fienz murders, and the Justin Grodin baby murder)  of First Degree Murder, but were unable to secure death sentences.  The last death penalty handed down in Lee County was Mark Twilegar in 2007.  #robertdunn