Tag Archives: murder

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 got persuaded 2 of her friend 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. (Lee 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 admitted. 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.

 

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Inmates Are Still Dying at Charlotte County Prison

ID Photo

Antonio Kirkland

A spate of troublesome deaths has continued this year at Charlotte Correctional Institute. Most recently, it was just revealed that inmate Antonio Kirkland was reported dead on July 10, 2017. The report was released Thursday, with no details on how he died. News-Press reporter Melissa Montoya was able to extract a telling quote from FDLE spokesperson Jessica Cary, who pointedly stated, “We don’t normally investigate deaths of natural causes.” Kirkland was serving life in prison for armed robbery, in addition to attempted murder and other charges in Pinellas.

ID Photo

Cesar Ruano

Kirkland’s death is the second to be investigated this year at CCI. In May, a 37-year-old inmate named Cesar Ruano, a.k.a. “El Diablo”, was found dead, and no information was released to date. Ruano was serving life in prison for a first-degree murder out of Miami-Dade. The News-Press article indicates there was an investigation for this death, and as Ms. Cary pointed out, they don’t usually investigate deaths of natural causes. While FDLE and DOC have not released any information, a person claiming to be Ruano’s brother commented on a Facebook post, claiming that he died in solitary confinement, crying for help.

There was another inmate death earlier this year, making Kirkland’s at least the third at CCI this year. 48-year-old Michael Diffenderfer passed away suddenly in April at CCI. He had been serving consecutive life sentences for murder and armed robbery from Palm Beach. The cause of death in his case has been reported to be natural: pulmonary embolism as a result of deep vein thrombosis. That’s according to Diffenderfer’s ex-wife… FDLE did not publicly release any information regarding that death either. We don’t have any suggestion that his death was suspicious, but no official word from FDLE, either.

The News-Press says that FDLE is still investigating three deaths from last year (2016), and another from 2015. Including the two from the last couple months, that’s six troublesome cases that are apparently still under investigation. That doesn’t include the 2014 death of Matthew Walker, who’s death was determined to be a homicide at the hands of correctional officers, but for which the State failed to secure an indictment, due in part to a botched investigation and/or cover-up. That means more than 10 criminal probes in the last few years. Coverage of that case, and others, garnered at Pulitzer Prize for the Charlotte Sun. But even their award-winning writing has not led to answers for the ongoing spate of inmate deaths. Nor has it brought an end to the growing body-count piling up at Charlotte Correctional Institute.

More coverage of Charlotte Correctional Institute is worth reading

The Large Penis Defense Worked! Richard Patterson Found Not Guilty

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson, who’s attorney claimed that his girlfriend accidentally choked to death on his large member during oral sex, as opposed to being intentionally choked, has been found not guilty by a jury this afternoon. Patterson did not take the stand, but the Defense presented testimony from the former county medical examiner that her injuries could be consistent with choking to death on his member. Medical testimony from the state called that theory into question, but the associate medical examiner could not state for certain the manner of death. The jury was not able to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the death was murder, and Patterson is a free, well-endowed*, man.

In fact, his attorney conceded that the explanation of death while performing oral sex was unlikely, but shifted his focus that the death could have been from a heart attack or other accident. While her body was decomposed, her throat cartilage was not broken, leaving open the possibility of an accidental death. Prosecutors could not prove the cause of death, nor how long she had been dead, which complicated their burden of proof, on an extremely complicated case.

*Presumably well endowed, as the defense decided not to put his penis in evidence, nor to show it to the jury…

#onlyinflorida

The Penis Defense Case is going to the Jury

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

Attorneys for Richard Patterson, accused in the choking death of his girlfriend, Francisca Marquinez, are doing their closing arguments today, and the jury should begin deliberations this afternoon. The case has made headlines after Patterson’s attorney filed a motion to allow the jury to view his client’s penis. Apparently, he decided against the presentation, as he rested the defense case before the court had to rule on the motion. The Defense did present the former Broward County medical examiner, who testified it was possible that the victim could have choked during oral sex. Previously, the state presented testimony from a current associate medical examiner, who testified about why it was unlikely she died this way, but that he could not rule on the manner of death due to the body’s condition when it was discovered. Prosecutors argued in closing that Patterson did not call 911 right away, which might be expected if the injuries really occurred accidentally, in addition to pointing out other statements by Patterson. The jury could reach a verdict later today.

Our original story on the case: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/florida-man-to-use-penis-defense-in-murder-trial/

#onlyinflorida

 

Florida Man to Use Penis Defense in Murder Trial

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

When I heard about this murder case, I was confused because I also heard it was a choking case. Horrifically, I was not given bad information: it is a choking case, and Richard Patterson claims the woman choked on his member. Trial is underway, and Patterson’s attorney argued a motion to allow the jury to see his penis. Reportedly, the state does not object: what can they say if that is the defense he claims. Defendants have broad latitude to present and argue their defenses.

At issue is whether or not the penis will be erect… The state argues that it should be erect, for proper context. That actually kind of makes since, as the Defendant is arguing that she accidentally choked while giving him oral sex. It appears there will be no dispute that she was otherwise healthy and died of asphyxiation, but to prove second degree murder, the state will have to show that the defendant cased the death by an act that was “imminently dangerous” AND “demonstrating  a depraved mind without regard for human life”. An accidental death during consensual sexual activity would not meet this standard, though the State is likely to argue that his story doesn’t make sense. The Defendant indicated in his motion that they intend to call the Broward Medical Examiner who will testify the death is “consistent” with accidental asphyxiation during oral sex. This could end up being the trial of the year…

The trial started yesterday, and a jury has been selected. The judge has not ruled whether the penis will need to be erect for the jury demonstration. The death occurred in Broward county in 2015, and Patterson is facing life in prison if convicted.

New Amanda Knox Biopic is Out

knox

Amanda Knox

Reelz has produced a new Amanda Knox biopic, as part of their show “Scandals Made Me Famous.” It aired for the first time over the weekend, but I just saw the ad. They claim to have some new reveals on the Kercher case, so it may be worth a watch, even if the show is on the tabloid end of the spectrum. They appear to be very critical of the police investigation that lead to her wrongful arrest and conviction, which was overturned. I’m sure it will air again.

And as a reminded, there is a documentary on Netflix that includes conversations with not only Knox, but the prosecutor and other important players.

Holy Cow: Aaron Hernandez Acquitted in Double Murder Trial

aaron hernandez

Aaron Hernandez

A jury today found former Gator and Patriot football player not guilty on two counts of murder, along with the attempted murders of the other passengers and the intimidation charge against the State’s key witness. He was found guilty of illegal firearms possession, and sentenced to four to five years in prison, most of which he has already served. Now, this acquittal may be all for naught, as Hernandez is already sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd, for whom he was convicted of killing in 2013.

Keep in mind, a criminal acquittal is not proof that he did not do it (cough cough – OJ – cough cough). It merely means that the state did not convince the jurors beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt.  The state’s case was based on the testimony of Alexander Bradley, a convicted violent drug dealer who says he was there and Hernandez did it. Hernandez’s attorney Jose Baez (who famously defended Casey Anthony) did a great job of casting doubt on Bradley, his motivations, and suggesting that it may have been Bradley who did the shooting. Without corroborating evidence, accepting Bradley’s testimony to convict was presumably to hard for the jury to swallow.

Hernandez’s other conviction is being appealed and will be heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, probably later this year.