Tag Archives: MANATEE

UPDATE: TRIAL POSTPONED – Jury Selection to Begin in Lavaya May Trial

Tuesday morning update: the trial has been postponed. As of this morning, the State is asking to stay the trial to appeal the court’s ruling yesterday that the notebook written by Lavaya May would not be admissible. The problem with that is, the Defendant had demanded a speedy trial, so the state is asking the judge to stay the speedy trial until the appeal can be ruled on. That’s extraordinary relief. WINK news is reporting that the trial will be put off up to 90 days, but it sounds like things are very much in flux, at this point.

  • May Accused of 2nd Degree Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder and other charges
  • May Allegedly persuaded 2 of her friends to kill 58-year-old Ted Lee
  • May, who is still a minor, claims Lee started molesting her when she was 8-years-old
lavaya may

Lavaya May

The trial and jury selection for the murder trial of Lavaya May is scheduled to start Tuesday morning, the trial could take 2 or even 3 weeks to complete, according to the attorneys handling the case. Although May was 16 at the time, she has been charged as an adult, and is facing life in prison on the murder charge.

The prosecution just found out that they lost some of their evidence after a day-long suppression hearing. The judge heard evidence and argument on Friday, and just Monday afternoon ruled that the state cannot introduce evidence from a journal that Ms. May was keeping in custody.

That’s the second suppression loss for the state, as the court previously ruled that the statement Ms. May made when she was arrested was illegally obtained in violation her rights. After the killing, May and the others fled out of state. When they were arrested, an attorney ad-litem who had been appointed to May contacted the Sheriff’s office and indicated she was invoking Ms. May’s right to have her attorney present. Detectives, recognized the issue, and contacted the State Attorney’s office, who incorrectly advised them to proceed with the interrogation of the juvenile May without her attorney. It was a clear violation of her right to counsel, and now they will not get to use her statement, either.

Jonathan Ruffini

Jonathan Ruffini

The State’s star witness will likely be the co-defendant, Jonathan Ruffini. Ruffini, who was 18-years-old at the time of the offense, a year ago, has already entered a guilty plea, and agreed to accept 25 years in prison for his role, in exchange for agreeing to testify. The other defendant, then-23-year-old Hunter Tyson, has also accepted a plea agreement for 40 years in prison, and there is no indication in his court file that he was given consideration for cooperation. It’s anticipated that Ruffini will testify that he and Tyson committed the murder at the behest of his friend/girlfriend May, due to her complaints about being molested by Lee. (Ruffini doesn’t have a DOC photo yet, as he’s being held in the Lee County Jail in anticipation of his being called to testify in the May case. There have been some changes in his story, and only recently did the state list him as a witness, so he may not be that reliable for them.

hunter tyson

Hunter Tyson

The challenge for the state is substantial, as it appears pretty clear that Ruffini and Tyson committed the murder, by baseball bat and knife- with Tyson being the primary killer. To prove a murder, they don’t have to show that May personally took part in the killing, but they can prove that she was a principal to the murder if she aided, abetted, or even encouraged the crime. Under Florida’s principal theory, she is

hunter tyson doc.jpg

Hunter Tyson in DOC

just as guilty as the others if she is found to be a principal. She is also charged with Conspiracy, for plotting the killing with the others. She may garner some sympathy, if the Defense is able to introduce the allegations that Lee had molested her for years. However, that is not legal justification for murder, as the abuse was in the, and would not present an immediate danger for self-defense/justifiable use of deadly force. More likely, the Defense team is going to try to frame the case as an act that was done by Tyson and Ruffini on their own, and not at the instigation of May. Both Tyson and Ruffini have admitted to committing the murder, and plead out to murder charges, but May can only bring that up if they are called in to testify. She can still blame Tyson, even if his admission is not introduced. Ruffini’s statement points the finger primarily at Tyson, and the Defense will try to say he’s blaming May to get a lesser sentence. The trial will be interesting to watch.


Prosecutors Won’t Seek 15-Year PRR Max Sentence for Sex on the Beach

Ed Brodsky, the elected State Attorney for the circuit including Manatee County and Bradenton, announced yesterday that he will not be seeking the full 15-year prison sentence that was expected for Jose Caballero. Caballero was one half of a

Jose 'Benny' Caballero

Jose ‘Benny’ Caballero

couple that were convicted this week for having sex on the beach in Bradenton. Because he was released from prison within 3 years of the offense, he was facing Prison Releasee Reoffender sentence, which would have mandated the maximum 15 years, to be serve day for day (no time off for good behavior).

Apparently, Brodsky has relented, after the case brought the attention of Families Against Minimum Mandatory sentences (FAMM). As we pointed out on Crimcourts: it costs about $18,000 per year to incarcerate someone… an his full sentence could have cost taxpayers $270,000. He’s still going to be looking at some time, but thanks to some magnanimity from the prosecutor, not a full 15. The judge would not have had discretion, had the state proceeded with the PRR sentence.

Bradenton Couple Guilty of Sex Crime for Sex on the Beach

Video of Sex on the Beach

Clip of Video

The Sex on the Beach trial that started last week in Bradenton, and provided wildly entertaining salacious testimony in the Manatee County Courtroom, wrapped up Monday. The case had enough media attention that it featured the elected State Attorney, Ed Brodsky, personally representing the State in the prosecution. After closing arguments, the jury did not need much deliberation, returning with a guilty verdict after only about 15 minutes.

Jose 'Benny' Caballero

Jose ‘Benny’ Caballero

Defendants Jose Cabellero, 40, and Elissa Alvarez, 20, are facing up to 15 years in prison, each, for the second degree sex-offense felony of lewd exhibition in the presence of a minor. The situation looks especially dire for Mr. Caballero, who apparently qualifies as a Prison Releasee Reoffender. He qualifies because he was released within the last 3 years for a cocaine trafficking sentence. The PRR statute is particularly onerous, as it requires the judge to sentence him to the maximum, to be served day for day (no time off for good behavior). The statute under which he is charged essentially treats him the same as someone who actually molests a child, even though there was no testimony of any actual danger to the child, merely that the child was present: it’s the same statutory section as child molestation.

Elissa Alvarez

Elissa Alvarez

Ms. Alvarez is in a substantially better position. While she’s facing up to 15 years in prison as a sex offender, she probably does not score out to mandatory incarceration (it appears she has no prior record). Further, she is young enough to potentially qualify as a youthful offender [Y.O.], which gives the court even greater latitude in sentencing. A Y.O. sentence may be particularly appropriate give her youth, lack of history, and the fact that she  may have been influenced by her older co-defendant.

If you haven’t yet, check back at the previous coverage, particularly the full story with video and pictures, as well as the live tweeting by the Bradenton Herald’s incomparable @KateIrby. Also, there are clips of the incident available online. There’s the real irony: these two are facing felonies and prison time for doing something that can be freely shared on the internet. While it may have been offensive (and I’m not advocating exposing children to such adult behavior), the video was shown over and over again during trial, and nobody was harmed. Caballero may get 15 years, and we’re going to pay for it. PRR sentences were created to protect society from the most dangerous offenders… and he ain’t it.

Also, it costs $18,000 per year on average to house an inmate in Florida. While he’s going to regret his indiscretion for 15 years, the taxpayers of Florida foot the bill… all $270,000.

The Best Thing on the Internet Today is the Sex on the Beach Trial in Bradenton

Follow the full live tweet with Bradenton.com’s Kate Irby: 

So far Grandma, and Great-Grandma have testified to the incident, and that their young grandchildren saw it. Because young children are alleged victims, the charges are felonies. That means the defendants could be facing prison time, felony convictions, and possibly sex offender designations. The testimony so far is engrossing…

Earlier: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/sex-on-the-beach-isnt-a-drink-in-bradenton/

Bradenton Sex on the Beach Case is in Trial

Video of Sex on the Beach

Video of Sex on the Beach

Trial is underway for the couple charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition for allegedly having sex on a Bradenton Beach a few months back. Salacious!


Sex on the Beach isn’t a Drink in Bradentonradenton

Video of Sex on the Beach

Video of Sex on the Beach

A couple was arrested in Bradenton for Lewd Exhibition for having sex on the beach in full view of dozens of beachgoers, including children, and a grandmother who taped them. Their brazenness is impressive, apparently they were doing it for 25 minutes, passed out for a while, then woke up and started at it again before someone stopped them, and called police. It was the second session that granny recorded.  Just another day in Florida…

via Fox 13: http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/story/26073588/pair-charged-for-sex-on-bradenton-beach

Mug Shots, via Fox13 Tampa

Manatee Riders on the Storm

Things not to do:  Manatee rider Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez has turned herself in to face charges for violating the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.  WTSP.COM has more details. 


You are not allowed to ride a manatee

Public Enemy Number 1

It is against the law to molest a manatee.  That’s legalese for ‘don’t bother endagered species.’  Apparently police are now looking for this woman for questioning.  If you know this woman… tell her to talk to a lawyer before she talks to police!  They are looking to file criminal charges.  They arrested a guy for getting his hand bitten off, and they will be happy to do the same to her!  On the other hand- how badass is it that she rode a manatee!  I mean WRONG… how wrong is it?

Thanks @ErinOnTV for the heads up! #manateeride