Articles Posted in Homicide

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The good news is that overall crime is down in Flagler County, but the bad news is that violent crime is up in many categories.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, the rates of rape, aggravated assault, burglaries and stolen vehicles all increase in 2015. There was also one murder in the county, up from zero in 2014.

Flagler County’s sheriff says his deputies have managed to keep the crime rate low for a long time. And despite increases in key categories, the overall crime rate is still down .6 percent.

The increase has been blamed on population growth. In the last four years, the county’s population has grown by about 10 percent.

The sheriff said whenever they start to see a spike in crime in specific areas, they flood the zones with patrols.

Statewide, crime is also up in several categories, although overall crime is down 1.6 percent.

In 2015, the crime rates rose in the following categories:

  • Murder: 5.7 percent
  • Rape: 6.1 percent
  • Fondling: 2.0 percent
  • Aggravated Assault: 3.9 percent
  • Motor vehicle Theft: 12.4 percent

The report also breaks down domestic violence-related crime by category. Overall, domestic violence-related crime is up .5 percent.

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A man died after he was struck by the stolen van he was pursuing Thursday in Hudson, Pasco County sheriff’s deputies said.

About 5 p.m. Thursday, the man and owner of a 1999 Ford van and his brother-in-law were in a car following the stolen vehicle from Hernando County into Pasco County. The van had been reported stolen in Spring Hill on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.

The driver of the van, a 33-year-old Spring Hill woman, pulled into a parking lot at 16823 U.S. Highway 19 on Thursday, according to reports.

The man tracking down his stolen van exited the vehicle and approached the driver’s side of the van, when the woman attempted to flee in the van. She ended up running over the man, deputies said.

The man was taken to Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

The woman was arrested at 1:46 a.m. on Friday and booked two hours later into the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center. She is facing charges of felony murder and grand theft auto.

According to Hernando County jail records, she has been arrested numerous times on drug, burglary and larceny charges. She also was arrested twice in Pasco County during 2012, according to jail records.

The investigation is ongoing.

The charges this woman faces are quite serious. For murder and grand theft auto charges, she could be facing a lengthy time behind bars along with other severe consequences.

Following an arrest for grave charges like these, it is crucial to find the support you need to build your case. A Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton may be able to help prove your innocence and clear your name. Our goal is to protect your rights inside and out of the courtroom.

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A Florida podiatrist has been accused of killing his estranged wife and using part of her life insurance settlement to pay for his criminal defense.

Reports indicate that the 48-year-old doctor pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his wife, whose body was found at the bottom of their home’s swimming pool in February 2014.

Court records show a settlement on the woman’s $1 million life insurance policy was reached last month. It grants $200,000 to her husband’s criminal defense attorney, $25,000 to a civil attorney and $150,000 directly to the doctor.

Shortly before her death, the woman had filed for divorce and been given temporary custody of the couple’s daughters and their Tallahassee home.

The doctor has been released from jail on $250,000 bond.

If you have been charged with homicide or murder anywhere in the state of Florida, including Leon County, you need the best criminal defense lawyer in the state of Florida. Call a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5529 as soon as possible for a free consultation. Your freedom and your liberty are our main concerns, and we can help you understand your legal rights and options.

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Former University of Florida Gator and New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez, 25, who once had a $40 million contract and a standout career ahead of him, will now be serving a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

The former football pro was also found guilty on weapons charges. The jury deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before rendering its verdict.

6566853359_6d069f2b0b_zLloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night on June 17, 2013, in a deserted industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough.

Police almost immediately began investigating Hernandez because they found a key to a car that the NFL player had rented in Lloyd’s pocket. Hours after he was arrested, the Patriots cut the former Pro Bowl athlete, who was considered one of the top tight ends in the NFL.

Prosecutors presented a great amount of evidence during trial that Hernandez was with Lloyd at the time he was killed, including home security video from Hernandez’s mansion, witness testimony and cellphone records that tracked Lloyd’s movements.

Hernandez’s lawyer also acknowledged for the first time during closing arguments that Hernandez was there when Lloyd was killed.

But, Hernandez’s attorney told the court that two of Hernandez’s friends, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, killed Lloyd. Wallace and Ortiz will stand trial later.

The prosecution never offered a motive other than Hernandez appeared angry with Lloyd at a nightclub two nights before the killing.

Hernandez still awaits trial on other murder charges. He is accused of gunning down two men over a spilled drink at a nightclub.

In the Lloyd killing, the defense argued that investigators pinned the murder on Hernandez because of his celebrity status.

Prosecutors believe that Hernandez organized the killing, made his two friends help carry it out and drove Lloyd and the others to the secluded spot in the industrial park. During closing arguments, prosecutors also allege that Hernandez shot the man, though under the law it is not necessary to prove who fired the shots to achieve a conviction.

Security video from inside Hernandez’s home showed him holding what appeared to be a gun less than 10 minutes after Lloyd was killed. The surveillance system also showed Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz hanging out at his home hours after Lloyd was shot.

Hernandez was an All-American out of the University of Florida who was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2010.

This case does not end with this guilty verdict. There will undoubtedly be an appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. There are many issues in this case that could be a strong grounds for appeal, including the fact that the judge allowed certain parts of the expert’s testimony on the Glock being the murder weapon, but excluded other parts. It could be asserted that the expert’s entire testimony was improper. The defense reminded the jury during closing argument that the expert’s testimony had been struck from evidence and should be disregarded. Because of the defense’s reference to this testimony during closing, it could be argued that asking the jury to ignore such incriminating evidence was unfairly prejudicial, which in turn would warrant a new trial.

It will most definitely be interesting to see how an appeal plays out for Hernandez.

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A pretrial hearing has been scheduled Monday for former New England Patriot and Florida Gator Aaron Hernandez.

His murder trial is set to start next month.

The hearing at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River will focus on jury issues. Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 9.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 2013 killing of a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

Hernandez also has pleaded not guilty in a separate case involving the fatal shootings of two men in 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub.

6566853359_6d069f2b0b_zProsecutors preparing for the murder trial have sought to admit a range of evidence related to Hernandez’s other alleged crimes, including the Boston homicides and unlawful possession of firearms.

However, Judge E. Susan Garsh has ruled that prosecutors cannot mention the Boston killings.

The judge also has ruled that prosecutors cannot submit as evidence the final text messages the semi-pro football player sent to his sister, including one sent minutes before he was fatally shot at an industrial park near Attleborough.

Garsh also has ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce the shooting of a former associate of Hernandez who has filed a lawsuit claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after an argument in Florida in 2013.

Courts are usually more inclined to allow previous evidence from other cases when it can be sufficiently connected to the facts of the present case. Admissible evidence of prior criminal acts is always circumstantial, and merely provides support for the prosecution to prove that the defendant could have committed the present act. Due to the fact that this evidence is strictly circumstantial, the purpose is to prove intent, identity or motive.

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State Attorney Angela Corey announced Thursday afternoon that she is prosecuting a 13-year-old boy accused of second-degree murder of a homeless Jacksonville man as an adult.

This is the second time she’s charged a young juvenile with murder.

The 54-year-old homeless man was found dead in a shopping center parking lot on 103rd Street in June. Police said he was shot in the head.

A month later they arrested the then-12-year-old juvenile after a 16-year-old friend was charged in an armed robbery and motor vehicle theft and implicated him.

A grand jury indicted the boy Thursday in the homeless man’s death allowing the adult charges to be filed by the State Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors did not provide a motive for the killing and they did not discuss the case in detail or explain why they filed second-degree murder charges.

According to police, surveillance videos showed the youths at the scene. There was no apparent motive for the shooting, it was described as spontaneous.

Corey said her reasoning for trying the boy as an adult is because even if he was convicted of murder in juvenile court, he could be released in as few as 18 months, but he would have to be released in 36 months.

In the meantime the boy is being housed in the Duval County jail in a wing for juvenile defendants.

The juveniles are not housed with adult offenders even though they are in adult jail. There are 10-minute checks by corrections officers and a school inside the facility.

Juvenile crime is defined as any illegal act that is committed by an individual who is under the age of 18. In most cases, juvenile crimes are governed by a separate court system, with a separate set of rules from the adult court system. However, as this case shows, there are some cases where a minor will be charged as an adult. The main factor in deciding how the juvenile will be tried all boils down to the type of crime that has been committed. In recent years, there has been increased regularity of minors in Florida and across the country being tried and punished as adults due to the types of crimes that have been committed.

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According to reports released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday, crime in Broward and Palm Beach counties took a plunge in 2013 and stayed in line with the state’s total decrease in criminal offenses.

In its 2013 Annual Uniform Crime Report, the state agency concludes that criminal activity, ranging from rapes and murders to robberies and burglaries, have steadily dropped in Florida over the past five years.

The overall crime rate fell by about seven percent in Broward County. With that said, the report relays that there were 46 more forcible rapes in 2013 compared to 2012. The biggest category of crimes to drop was robberies, decreasing by about 13 percent.

crime sceneIn Palm Beach County, the overall crime rate plunged by about three percent in 2013. Conversely, there were nearly 100 more vehicle thefts than in 2012.

FDLE computed the same number of murders in 2012 and 2013 in both counties — 80 in Broward and 74 in Palm Beach.

When you are charged with a crime in Florida, the consequences can be devastating. Criminal charges have the ability to haunt you for the rest of your life, sometimes going as far as limiting your ability to find a job, own or rent a home and even maintain or build new relationships. Even if you do not serve any jail time, a criminal conviction can still negatively impact your life.

A criminal investigation can progress rather quickly. What you may think is nothing right now could lead to your arrest tomorrow. The sooner you involve a criminal lawyer with your charges, the better the outcome for you. A South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can thoroughly analyze every aspect of your case and begin evaluating possible defenses and strategies right away. From early on, we will look for ways to help you avoid a criminal conviction.

We handle all of the following types of criminal cases, including:

  • Sex offenses, including rape, child molestation, child pornography, prostitution, indecent exposure, child abuse and sexual assault
  • Drug crimes, including possession, sale, distribution, grow house and trafficking
  • Violent crimes, including kidnapping, burglary, assault, battery, robbery, domestic violence, murder, manslaughter and weapons charges
  • White Collar Crimes, such as Internet crimes, fraud, forgery, identity theft and RICO
  • Juvenile Offenses
  • DUI Charges, including DUI Manslaughter and DUI Serious Bodily Injury

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A 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain accused of shooting a man that was texting during a Mark Wahlberg war movie will be arraigned on a second-degree murder charge Tuesday in a Florida court.

The ex-Florida law enforcement officer is charged with gunning down the 43-year-old man and his wife with a .380-calber handgun, following a verbal and physical confrontation.

The man was pronounced dead at a hospital, and his wife was treated for a gunshot wound to her hand.

The man remains in Pasco County jail, and a judge will decide today whether or not to release the man on bail.

.380-calber handgun.pngThe retired cop was arrested at a movie theatre in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa.
Police claim the retired officer shot at the man because he was texting in the movie theater before the movie started.

The former officer apparently asked the man to stop, but the man continued using his cell phone. He then left the theatre to complain to management before returning to his seat.

A verbal altercation apparently began between the two, which then turned physical, according to police reports. Then, the retired cop allegedly pulled out a gun and fired one shot at the man. The man’s wife was wounded in the hand as she grabbed her husband, according to police.

The suspect retired as captain from the Tampa Police Department in 1993, according to a spokeswoman for the department.

Murder or homicide is defined as the unlawful killing of another human being. Second-degree murder charges often arise after a death that occurred in the heat of the moment, meaning it was not intentional or premeditated. In order for the State to obtain a conviction for murder in the second degree, the prosecution must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. The victim is dead.

2. The death was caused by the dangerous criminal actions of the defendant.

3. The victim was unlawfully killed by a dangerous act that displays a blatant disregard for human life, even if the act was a mistake.

A second-degree murder charge is classified as a first-degree felony in the state of Florida. A conviction carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence, and a judge can also impose additional penalties including up to life in prison, up to life on probation and up to $10,000 in fines. These consequences are significantly increased if a firearm is used. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, any person that uses a firearm to commit second-degree murder will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 25 years behind bars.

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A 32-year-old Lakeport man is facing up to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering an Okeechobee bail bondsman in 2010.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, a jury made up of five men and one woman found the man guilty of second-degree murder, aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, the man will be sentenced in about two weeks and is facing 25 years to life in prison.

The Glades County man was arrested Dec. 26, 2010 after he apparently shot the owner of All Over Bail Bonds in Okeechobee. The deceased was attempting to help a fellow Okeechobee bail bondsman locate the man.

The bail bondsman was shot one time in the left side of the chest with a .243 caliber rifle, and died at the scene.

An arrest report by the Glades County Sheriff’s Office indicates that the deceased, his wife and the other bail bondsman went to a mobile home on Red Barn Road to take the man into custody. When they arrived they apparently found the front gate to the property closed and locked.

The three then witnessed a Dodge pickup coming in their direction, but reports show the driver of the truck stopped and began to back up as the vehicle neared the gate. The trio crossed the gate and followed the truck to a small trailer thinking the man they were after was driving the truck.

The 32-year-old Lakeport man apparently came from behind the trailer armed with a rifle and pointed the gun at the three bondsmen and told them to get off the property.

Reports indicate that at some point the man began to run and the deceased and his wife ran after him. The deceased, who was armed with a handgun, apparently chased the man into a cow pasture. The man eventually stopped running and raised his rifle at the bondsman and fired one shot.

The man then fled the scene, but was found a short time later hiding under the porch of a building at Chappy’s Hunt Camp on S.R. 78, just east of Old Lakeport Road.

rifle.jpgThe bolt action rifle was found later about 150 yards from where the deceased was shot. According to police, it was still loaded with one round in the chamber and four rounds in the magazine.

When the man was taken into custody, police claim two more rounds were found in his pocket along with a glass smoking pipe which had a residue that tested positive for methamphetamine.

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A 42-year-old Stock Island man accused of beating a 45-year-old Keys man following a disagreement about buying beer could face a murder charge.

The victim was taken to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for his injuries from the July 7 beating where he recently passed away.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the man was beaten and kicked in the head all over $10 for beer.

The 42-year-old man accused of beating the victim was charged with aggravated battery. But, Chief Assistant State Attorney Manny Madruga claims that once the autopsy reports come in the man’s charge could be increased to homicide.

300369_bottles.jpgThe accused apparently told detectives he gave a woman $10 to buy him beer from a convenience store, but she returned empty handed. He asked for his money back, but the woman allegedly ran over to the now deceased man, who was on a bicycle, and the two men started fighting.

Witnesses told police the 42-year-old man kicked the other man in the face before running away.

Deputies found the man a short time later hiding beneath a building in a condominium complex.

The man is currently being held at the Monroe County Detention Center with no bond.

Homicide or murder is defined in the state of Florida as the unlawful killing of a human being. The state of Florida classifies homicide as a capital offense. With that said, any one facing murder or homicide charges faces a tough road ahead. These charges are quite serious and require an aggressive defense starting from the very beginning of the case. It is vital to have experienced legal counsel on your side so that you can obtain the best possible outcome for your situation. These cases usually capture the attention of the media and therefore spur much public debate. A Monroe County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can protect your rights through every stage of your case. We have the knowledge and resources needed to defend your homicide charges.

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