Konstantinos Georgiou Mug Shot
Once again, the cover-up/aftermath was worse than the crime. Konstantinos Georgiou fled from the scene of a crash. He tried to commandeer a couple of people’s vehicles, before jumping off the bridge and into the Caloosahatchee River to evade officers. The marine units finally caught up to him, clinging to the bridge supports, and had to take him to the hospital.
The sad irony here is that the crash itself was not a crime, leaving the scene of the crash is only a misdemeanor… but trying to break into other peoples’ cars is a serious felony. Reports indicate he actually fought with the occupants of at least one vehicle, which makes the offense a Burglary with Battery, a Punishable by Life Felony (or PBL). His escape attempt is likely to land him in prison for many years; while the initial offense was relatively minor. He was lucky that officers located him and saved him from the river, it could have ended a lot worse after jumping off the bridge!
UPDATE: It’s extra dangerous to jump in the water in Florida, he wouldn’t have been the first to get caught by an alligator: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/man-flees-cops-is-caught-by-alligator/
UPDATE 2: The News-Press spoke to a witness who indicates that the suspect did run down to where the bridge gets closer to the water before he jumped in. (Also, photos added)
Caloosahatchee Bridge, from the Fort Myers River District, looking North
The Vehicular Manslaughter trial for Luis Gonzalez is set for next week, starting Tuesday. Gonzalez is charged with running over Tia Poklemba, then leaving her to die. He was one of Lee County’s most wanted for some time, and was featured on America’s Most Wanted. Tips ultimately led to his arrest in Mexico after four years on the lam, and he was extradited back to Florida last year.
Luis Gonzalez mug shot
The state has chosen to charge the case as Manslaughter with a Weapon, instead of Vehicular Homicide. Normally Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide are second degree felonies, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, as charged with the aggravating factor of a weapon, this manslaughter charge is enhanced to a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The vehicular manslaughter charge could also be enhanced by failing to render aid. The State must feel they have a stronger case that the vehicle was being used as a weapon. This suggests they may proceed on a theory of manslaughter by act or procurement, instead of by culpable negligence. If the Defendant was guilty on a negligence theory, that would suggest the vehicle was not a weapon.
I’m doing my legal nitpicking, because this case is probably not about the enhancement. This case is probably about whether or not they can put Mr. Gonzalez behind the wheel. The evidence reported indicates that Ms. Poklemba was run over twice, going forward and backward. There is apparently video of her hanging out with Mr. Gonzalez earlier in the evening. The challenge for the state will be proving that he was driving at the time Ms. Poklemba was hit. It may be a circumstantial case, which is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Just last week, the state lost a DUI Manslaughter case because they could not prove the Defendant was driving. The facts are very different: in that case, there was evidence that the other person thrown from the vehicle was the driver. But DUI manslaughter cases are difficult, especially if there is no wheel witness.
Gonzalez faces up to 60 years in prison. In addition to the Manslaughter with a Weapon charge, he is charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, also a first degree felony. Court watchers take note, two excellent attorneys in ASA Dan Feinberg and Defense Attorney Donald Day are likely trying the case.