Two (of course these stories have to come from) Florida residents have been arrested in the past week for domestic violence incidents involving food. Both actually stem from Pinellas County.
First, Daniel Plunkett of Treasure Island stands accused of throwing pizza at his roommate. Plunkett, for his part, says that he was actually the victim of the pizza throwing, and the officers did note pizza sauce on his clothing. Unfortunately for him, he is being held without bond as this charge violates his probation.
Meanwhile, just a few days later, Clearwater resident Rykihia Moore was charged with striking her boyfriend with a hamburger she threw. She was up front, admitting to deputies that she did throw the burger and said, “it may have hit him.” Apparently the argument stemmed from concerns that she was being unfaithful.
To say the least, it’s been a busy week in the domestic violence division of Pinellas County, Fla.
Because this is Florida, between the time that I wrote this, and scheduled publication, there has already been another food battery, also with burgers. 19 year old Vero Beach man Tanner Wolf became irate at his father and chucked a McDonald’s bag at him. Wolf also admitted to his crime against family and food. (Thanks @_Floridaman)
Posted in Criminal Law, Florida
Tagged battery, clearwater, daniel plunkett, domestic, hamburger, pinellas, rykihia moore, tanner wolf, treasure island, vero beach, weirdbattery
The Supreme Court is going to hear a case next week that will determine when threats posted on social media, in this case Facebook, rise to the level of a true threat. The case in question dealt with comments Anthony Elonis made toward his estranged wife (and others). He was convicted, sentenced to prison, and the case already upheld by the 3rd Circuit.
While the 1st Amendment gives protection to speech, that protection does not extend to ‘true threats’. This case will examine when musings posted on a Facebook wall are protected, and when they go to far. It will have ramifications in Florida, which has harsh punishments for Written Threats, which include social media posts under Florida law.
See Also: Felonies for Facebook posts
*UPDATE: The conviction was overturned, as the jury must also determine whether the Defendant intended for his words to constitute a threat.
CBS is reporting Zimmerman has been arrested following a disturbance at his home: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57612824-504083/george-zimmerman-arrested-following-disturbance-at-fla-home/
George Zimmerman, 11/18/13
UPDATE: CNN is reporting that the arrest is for pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend. Aggravated Assault with a firearm carries a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence in Florida. The cases are notoriously hard to prove, as they are often he said/she said scenarios with little physical evidence. There is also a criminal mischief charge (destruction of property), but there are not any facts available yet.
Melissa Webb was found guilty of second degree murder yesterday by a Lee County jury. Her former boyfriend, Bryan Sorrendino, was found dead in the woods in Charlotte County. Over the following weeks, Webb made admissions regarding shooting him to people, and she was charged in the murder. It’s rather unusual for a woman to kill a man, and I am unaware of any history of violence for either she or the victim, though they both have criminal histories, including drug charges.
The Defense argued self-defense, and filed a Stand Your Ground immunity motion. They alleged that Webb felt her life was in danger. They claimed in the motion that Sorrendino pulled the gun on Webb, and he slipped and she was able to get the gun from him. They claimed she only shot him because she was afraid he was going to get his shotgun to kill her. She first made the claim in a motion to dismiss under stand your ground, but the judge found that she didn’t meet her burden and denied the motion. The same defense was used at trial, and the jury didn’t buy it, either. The fact that she took great lengths to hide the body in the woods in another county certainly affected her credibility with the jury. She faces life in prison, and a 25-year minimum sentence under 10/20/Life. She definitely has an appellate issue that there is only circumstantial evidence to rebut her claims of self-defense, as the only other witness is deceased.
Posted in 10-20-Life, Criminal Law, Drugs, Florida, Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL, punta gorda / port charlotte / charlotte / southwest florida, Stand Your Ground
Tagged bryan sorendino, domestic, melissa webb, murder, stand your ground, trial
Police were called to a home in Lake Mary yesterday by George Zimmerman’s wife Shellie, in regards to a domestic dispute of some sort. Mrs. Zimmerman, who recently filed for divorce, made numerous allegations including violence by Mr. Zimmerman toward her father, and allegations that he was threatening both of them with a gun. She can be heard on the 911 call saying that he was putting his hand on the gun. Authorities responded, as did the lawyers, and after conducting an investigation, that included a temporary detention of Mr. Zimmerman, police declined to file any charges.
More details have emerged today. According to police, they did not recover a firearm. Apparently, Mrs. Zimmerman then backed off of that statement and changed her story about what happened. Mr. Zimmerman claimed that she and her father started the fight. Due to the conflict in evidence, law enforcement was unable to determine that a crime occurred. I am reluctantly including the USA Today link today for the updates, because the 911 recording posted there is defamatory to Mr. Zimmerman. Keep in mind that Mrs. Zimmerman is a convicted perjurer.
I encouraged people yesterday not to jump to conclusions. Social media blew up with cracks about Mr. Zimmerman, and firearms, when it turns out that there was no gun involved. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed at the incident, and nobody was hurt. I expect the case report will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for review, but would not expect charges to be picked up against Mr. Zimmerman. Frankly, in light of the statements made by Mrs. Zimmerman, she could be facing charges for giving false information to the police, which would also violate her probation. Mr. Zimmerman does not wish charges to be filed, and it’s unlikely the State will want to pick it up.
Dateline did a pretty solid and in-depth piece on Drew Peterson and his trial last week. You can check out the full video of the episode online. It seems to be the most complete discussion of the trial I have yet seen in one place, and is presently clearly and concisely. If you have followed the case, it’s a must see.
They ran parts of the statements from the jurors that agreed to speak to the press. I found it particularly insightful that the jurors (according to the foreman Eduardo Saldana) relied heavily on the hearsay evidence: including the controversial evidence that was admitted only thanks to a new law passed in Illinois that changed hundreds of years of courtroom procedure. He specifically referenced statements Stacy Peterson made to her divorce attorney about admissions Drew Peterson had made about Kathleen Savio’s death.
The defense team had seemed cocky earlier in the case. I wonder if they were banking on the jury disregarding the hearsay due to its reliability concerns. Having heard the prejudicial statements that were introduced, I’d say they were just too damaging, and they didn’t just come from one source. Collectively, the prosecutors were able to use the hearsay evidence to put on a relatively strong case against Peterson. Dateline’s Lester Holt categorized the verdict as “shocking.” I wouldn’t go that far, in spite of the lack of physical evidence, the testimonial evidence was devastating.
I’m only posting this as a formality, as several major sites have posted it. The state has filed an Information, which is the formal charging document with the court. This was entirely expected, unless some surprising new information had come out since the arrest. Sometimes charges will get dropped if the victim indicates they do not wish to prosecute, though the final decision rests with the State Attorney’s office.
I didn’t get to see the Hard Knocks finale, so I missed that Chad has gotten a tattoo of Ms. Lozada. As a longtime Johnson fan, I’m hopeful that he gets a good resolution to his case.