An arrest was made this week in the tragic death of a 1-year-old in Charlotte County in October. Deputies have charged Shahzad Sayed in relation to the drowning of his young child in the pool of their Deep Creek home on October 3, 2020. The primary charge Sayed is facing is Aggravated Manslaughter: the charge is aggravated because a child was the victim. The bigger hurdle for the state will be convincing a jury to convict the grieving father of manslaughter for a tragic, accidental drowning.
The Florida statute on manslaughter does permit a conviction for manslaughter by culpable negligence: it does not require an intentional act if the negligence of a caretaker is especially egregious. That is, someone can be found guilty of the crime by omission instead of an act; but the law saw the omission must evince a state of mind so wanton or reckless it could be considered intentional. Case law has said that the state must prove a gross and flagrant violation of the duty of care that causes injury; a course of conduct showing reckless disregard for human life or the entire want of care raising the presumption of indifference of consequences. A jury may find that the facts support such a finding, but it’s a high bar.
According to news reports, detectives claim that Mr. Sayed “knowingly” went to bed while his two small children were still up. The resultant injury to the child is per se evidence of negligence, but whether it rises to the level of culpable negligence is less clear. The child opened a door and went out to the pool area, where there were no safety devices. Certainly, pool gates are expected safety devices in homes where small children reside, but that omission alone is not enough to rise to the level of culpable negligence. Does the fact that the father fell asleep demonstrate a reckless indifference to life? It’s an issue on which reasonable minds could certainly disagree, and will likely be difficult to convince a jury beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt.
Mr. Sayed has also been charged with some drug related offenses, reportedly due to videos the detectives found that purportedly show drug transactions, and evidence of drugs in the common areas of the home. However, there’s no indication that there was any harm to the children due to the drugs, which means it’s a non-factor as to the manslaughter charge. Those charges may even be severed from the other for trial, so that the jury doesn’t consider them together. (Though, if they have evidence of his drug use the night of the accident, that may be admissible.) The legal aspects of the case are interesting, though the loss of a young child is obviously tragic. Regardless of what Mr. Sayed is convicted of, he will have to live with this the rest of his life.
Neighbors near a suspected drug house in San Carlos made several calls to the Sheriff’s Department about the concerning activity going on at the house. LCSO responded to investigate, and were greeted with a mat in front of the door that said “Come Back with a Warrant!”
Deputies did just that, securing a warrant and coming back to search the home. Inside, they found quantities of Meth, Fentanyl, Heroin, Cocaine and various related paraphernalia. Three people were arrested, included the alleged ringleader who was charged with sale, possession, and possession of a place being used for selling drugs.
I’m really charmed by the handwritten mat. They actually sell mats like that– theoretically as novelty items. These guys didn’t pay for one… but they were serious about having a need for one. They should have also posted a sign that says “I’m not saying anything without speaking to my lawyer” to invoke some other important rights!
The men were charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking, drug possession and possession of paraphernalia. Notably, officers recovered some 1.36 kilograms of GHB, often called the “Date Rape Drug”. Only in Florida…
Clearly… not the most successful criminals out there. The drug trafficking charges alone carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison, and have associated mandatory minimum sentences. Not only is it not a good idea to carry your contraband in a bag that alerts to it’s illegal content… it’s probably not a good idea to be flying down the highway going nearly 100 mph, as these guys were when they got pulled over.
After police arrested Ashley Roland, she was searched by a corrections officer at the jail. That officer found a clear plastic bag with a gram of meth allegedly stashed in her vagina, along with more than $6000! Roland denied the drugs were hers! West Monroe, LA police arrested her and charged her anyway. Those charges were added to the pending theft charges that landed her in jail in the first place. A man said she had been at his apartment, but when he was taking a shower, she swiped his cash and left. Police indicate that Roland admitted to stealing the money… the drugs are a different story. It doesn’t say if the vagina money was equal to the stolen money, which would add to her difficult claim that the items in her did not belong to her. I’ve heard of the ole ‘not my pants’ defense… I guess this will be dubbed the ‘not my hoo-ha’ defense.
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana: with over 71% of voters in favor. However, the state government has slow-rolled the medical marijuana licensing process, effectively making it difficult for everyone who might need the medical marijuana to get it as quickly as possible. They have also placed many burdensome restrictions on obtaining it, the most notable being that it is very hard to be able to simply smoke marijuana in leaf form. The system in place funnels people to using oils and other derivatives, and restricts the number of licenses for the dispensaries where prescriptions are available, making the limited licenses potentially very lucrative for the lucky few who can set up shop. This probably makes it far more expensive and difficult for sufferers to get the marijuana they need.
This resulted in a lawsuit against Florida from medical marijuana users challenging the legislation enacted to allow medical marijuana, alleging that it is insufficient and doesn’t follow the clear intent of the voters. That lawsuit was successful, but changes have not been enforced as the previous administration chose to appeal the ruling. That’s an expensive way for our own state government to avoid the will of the people and to dodge the intent of our constitution.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
New Governor Ron DeSantis, who has hit the ground running in Tallahassee, has given out indications he plans to make an about face on the State’s position. DeSantis said of the smoking ban, “I think a lot of voters were frustrated… […] They think there’s been a lot of foot dragging. So my job is, when the people speak, you have to listen. This was not an amendment that was really that close. It was like 72 percent.” DeSantis and his advisers have indicated an announcement is coming up, and that changes will be made in how the state is carrying out the medical marijuana amendment. It is believed the announcement may include dropping the appeal. One of his advisors even tweeted the hashtag, #nosmokeisajoke indicating support for a change in policy that would allow medical users to smoke.
With DeSantis and other republicans on board, the movement appears to have some bipartisan support. We just covered democrat Nikki Fried, the new Agriculture Commissioner, who is also pushing to change the regulatory scheme for medical marijuana. It should be something that both sides agree on, that people who have a medical need and a prescription, ought to be able to get the marijuana they need to help their condition. That’s the compassionate, and most cost-effective, approach.
As always, a reminder that marijuana still requires a prescription to possess or to smoke. If you don’t have a card, it’s a crime that will subject you to arrest, and possible jail time, not to mention a mandatory driver’s license suspension. Call an attorney right away if you get in trouble, this is the kind of thing an experienced criminal law attorney can help you with!
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!
Naked Florida Man stories are going to become passé before long. This time, John Hennessey was found completely naked, holding a knife while chanting and dancing around a fire. At one point, he actually stood in the fire, chanting gibberish all the time. He had allegedly broken a window of a home and tried to set a vehicle on fire. Officers tried to rescue him, and he dropped the knife but then allegedly grabbed a large stick that he used to assault officers. Cape officers were able to use a Taser to subdue him, and he was arrested and taken for treatment before being booked. There were indications he had taken psychedelic mushrooms prior to the incident. He’s facing charges of Aggravated Assault (X2), Criminal Mischief, Resisting with Violence, and an additional count of Aggravated Assault on a law enforcement officer.
Bill and Crystal Colwell were sitting at home minding their own business, when a naked man with a rake barged into their house. Crystal tossed a hatchet to her husband, but he grabbed a hammer out of his truck and “went to town” trying to fight the guy off. The guy, Maurice Castaneda, (or Castanedo) got several licks in with the rake, and Colwell suffered several lumps on the head and puncture wounds on his back and shoulder. The rake was shattered from the force of the attack.
Maurice Castanedo, via DOC
The Colwell’s suspect the suspect was on drugs. He retrieved his shorts from a nearby swamp and took off. Authorities called out the K-9 and helicopter, and were able to locate him a few streets over. He now faces charges for Burglary, Battery and Assault. Burglary with a Battery is a PBL (punishable by life offense) in Florida. I found a similar name in the Florida prison rolls: Maurice Castanedo has been to prison a couple of times: getting out for a robbery about 2 years ago. (There is another Castaneda, but that individual looks quite different- he happens to be on the sex offender registry). The distinctive Texas tattoo on this neck makes me fairly confident
“Castanedo” via rapsheets.org
this ‘Castaneda’ is the same as the Castanedo in the prison photos. The recent release date indicates he may be subject to being sentenced as a Prison Releasee Reoffender.
He may plead insanity, or try to use intoxication as a mitigating factor. Normally, voluntary intoxication is not a defense- but if it makes you so crazy as to eliminate intent, they might have a claim! Most likely, he’ll be back in prison for quite a while…
A Fort Pierce woman had a unique excuse for the cocaine officers found in her car last week. Officers found Marijuana and Cocaine in the vehicle Kenneshia Posey was riding in with another person. When they asked her, she admitted the marijuana was hers, but denied knowing anything about the baggie of cocaine. When the officer asked how it got in her purse, she replied, “I don’t know anything about any cocaine. It’s a windy day. It must have flown through the window and into my purse.”
Officers were apparently unimpressed, as she was arrested and charged for both the marijuana and the cocaine.
Lee County ran an undercover prostitution sting over the weekend and picked up a hooker… Brianna Hooker. There were 14 more arrests from the operation, in addition to Ms. Hooker. The undercover detective invited her to a location where he was staying, whereupon she agreed to have sex with him, then asked if she could smoke up before she performed for him. She has an extensive history of drugs and theft related offenses, and is facing drug possession charges as well as a violation of her earlier probation for this new charge. As is so often the case, the drug abuse likely led to the theft and prostitution as she tried to feed her addiction. That’s likely the case for several of the co-defendants from this operation.