Articles Posted in Homicide

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Former University of Florida football player and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning.

His arrest comes more than a week after a Boston semi-pro football player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez’s house.

Less than two hours following his arrest, the Patriots announced they had released the 23-year-old.

A 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits was found dead on June 17. Officials ruled the death a homicide but have not mentioned how the man died.

655092_football_5.jpgRelatives of the deceased said he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée and that the two men were friends and were out together on the night the man was killed.

At this time it is unclear why Hernandez was taken into custody Wednesday before 9 a.m. from his North Attleborough home.

Hernandez was arrested on a state police warrant at about 8:45 a.m. and was booked at the North Attleborough police station, according to police. State police refuse to discuss the case against Hernandez until it’s presented in Attleboro District Court later Wednesday.

At around 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez.

The following statement was released by the Patriots:

“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

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Former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, facing charges of driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane in a Friday head-on crash in suburban Atlanta, has now been charged with vehicular homicide.

Authorities claim that Blaylock, 46, was driving an SUV that crossed the center line of Tara Boulevard, about 20 miles south of downtown Atlanta, when he struck a van. A 43-year-old female passenger of that van died from her injuries hours later. The woman’s husband, who was also riding in the van, was treated for his injuries at a hospital and released later.

Following the crash, Blaylock was placed on life support at the hospital, but his condition has since been upgraded. According to an Atlanta Medical Center spokeswoman, as of Monday, Blaylock was in fair condition.

1135202_basketball_player_5.jpgOfficials said that Blaylock was also wanted in Spalding County on charges of failure to appear in court, DUI and drug possession.

Police are currently investigating the cause of the crash, but do not believe alcohol played a factor.

Blaylock allegedly told investigators that he blacked out right before the crash. Authorities are currently looking into his medical history.

More than 6 million motor vehicle accidents occur annually across the United States. Sadly, a great number of these accidents result in the death of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. If you were behind the wheel of a car that caused a tragic collision, you are most likely facing immense stress over your own injuries, but a vehicular manslaughter charged can quickly pile on more tension to your current situation.

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12754_hand_cuffs.jpgTallahassee, Florida – State officials have reported that the overall crime rate in Florida has dropped 3.8 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. However, the number of murders and forcible sex offenses is on the rise.

Governor Rick Scott and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey announced the figures in the 2012 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report Thursday.

Florida’s murder rate increased by 1.5 percent, including an 8.2 percent surge in murders committed with firearms.

Forcible sex offenses, including rape and sodomy, also saw an increase of 1.5 percent. This number includes a 40 percent increase in rapes committed using firearms.

Aggravated assaults, burglaries, robberies and larcenies all declined.

While overall domestic violence crimes dropped 5.4 percent, domestic violence murders increased by 30 percent and forcible rapes by 7 percent.

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A judge refused to set bail Wednesday for a 64-year-old Lake Alfred woman accused of killing her 77-year-old husband and burying his body in the couple’s backyard garden.

The woman’s lawyer argued that the woman has seriously health issues that cannot be properly addressed in jail.

The woman is diagnosed with fibromyalgia — a chronic disorder that affects the muscles and causes extensive pain.

The woman apparently takes more than 20 pills a day, including pain killers.

Her attorney asked the Polk County judge to set bail for the woman because her case is “unique,” and because she voluntarily submitted to questioning in front of investigators and a grand jury.

However, the Assistant State Attorney claims the woman has not been truthful in her answers to law enforcement.

The woman was indicted Tuesday on a charge of premeditated first-degree murder.

First-degree premeditated murder is the intentional killing of another person with a deliberate plan to kill. In all homicide cases, the State typically assigns veteran law enforcement officers and prosecutors to investigate and handle these cases. Usually advanced technology is utilized when conducting homicide investigations and more money is spent by the department to perform a thorough investigation, which is why these charges require the assistance of an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to provide an applicable defense. Generally, a person charged with first-degree murder will be denied bond and will sit in jail throughout the entire duration of the legal process.

There are possible defenses to first-degree murder, including:

• Self-defense
• Excusable Homicide
• Justifiable Homicide
First-degree murder is a capital felony, meaning your life is on the line. It is imperative to begin building a zealous defense immediately as this is viewed as the most serious crime on the books in Florida. There are only two potential outcomes following a conviction for first-degree murder: the death penalty or life in prison with zero possibility of parole. Prosecutors may choose to waive the option for the death penalty, but if they do not, and a defendant is convicted, the choice is left to a jury to decide between life and death. Because of the extreme penalties attached to murder charges, it is important to start fighting the process early on.

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The state of Florida’s death sentence policy is quite different than any other state’s version. Florida is the only state that gives the jury the power to recommend the death penalty or life in prison, which is decided by a majority vote. The judge can consider the recommendation, but ultimately does not have to agree with the results of the jury vote.

On Tuesday, the State Attorney’s Office announced its plan to seek the death penalty in an Ocala, Florida case involving a 31-year-old man accused of murdering two children and two women, one of whom was the mother of his 2-year-old son.

The man, currently a high security inmate at the Marion County Jail, was arrested on Aug. 5 and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and arson of a dwelling.

The four individuals were found shot to death inside a home that was allegedly set on fire. The children, 6 and 8, were found in a back bedroom, the women, 27 and 52, were found near the front door.

The 27-year-old woman was supposedly dating the man accused of the quadruple murder. She allegedly arrived at the home on Aug. 5 with her three children in a white Jeep, when she supposedly went inside the house and left the children in the car.

One child told detectives that there was a loud bang, followed by the woman’s collapse. She was supposedly dragged inside the home and the door was closed. A short time later, flames erupted from the house.

The children remained in the Jeep until neighbors got them out.

The man was indicted by a grand jury at the end of August.

When a person is charged with a capital crime in the state of Florida, a grand jury will determine whether or not the case moves forward to trial. The Florida Supreme Court defines a grand jury as “an investigating, reporting, and accusing agency of the Florida Circuit Court.” During a grand jury trial it is determined whether or not there is probable cause to believe the accused has committed a capital crime.

Currently, Florida has several capital crimes, including:

First-Degree Murder

Felony Murder

Capital Drug Trafficking

Capital Sexual Battery

If a grand jury decides that there is enough evidence against a person accused of a capital crime to proceed to formal trial, then that person will progress to a Florida circuit court where a separate jury will establish if the person is actually guilty of the crime charged. Someone convicted of a capital crime in Florida faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty.

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One of the defendants allegedly involved in the death of a 15-year-old Belleview, Florida teen is allegedly incompetent to stand trial.

The 38-year-old man’s lawyer supposedly told a judge in a brief pre-trial conference on Wednesday that a psychiatrist asserts the man is unfit to stand trial for the charges of accessory to first-degree murder.

He is accused of helping dispose of the body and enabling one of the suspects to evade arrest by driving him to Starke.

The teenager was allegedly murdered in April by a group of young people ranging in age from 15 to 20.

The lawyer supposedly would not disclose the nature of the man’s condition.

The judge reportedly asked prosecutors to schedule a competency hearing, according to the Ocala Star Banner. After the hearing the judge will decide whether the man is actually unfit or fully competent to face a trial.

It is unknown when the competency hearing will take place.

The accused is currently free on bond.

Criminal behavior has been found to have a direct link to psychological, psychiatric, or mental health in some cases. Defendants with such illnesses or issues must receive specialized attention because their needs can often go undetected in a legal system run by police, prosecutors and judges who are not equipped with the knowledge needed to detect their disorders.

Within the last decade, mental illness has become widely recognized as a gateway to criminal behavior. While the criminal justice system can be intimidating for a defendant who does not have mental issues, a criminal defendant with a mental illness can find the system practically unmanageable unless they have guidance of legal counsel who can understand and display to the court their unique position.

At Whittel & Melton we work with psychiatrists, substance abuse specialists, psychologists and other mental health experts so that we can assist with any special needs you and your loved ones may have. By working with trained professionals, our attorneys can pinpoint any underlying health issues and establish the best method to settle a criminal matter. We can help condense possible exposure to criminal consequences by addressing special circumstances. We seek a long-term solution that will benefit the accused as opposed to a quick fix solution implemented by the prosecution that may actually hinder behavioral health progress.

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Nearly 100 yards from where a Brooksville, Florida woman was bludgeoned to death about a month ago, investigators shot a man in the abdomen.

Five investigators approached the 60-year-old man’s home on Sept. 27 with a search warrant in tow when the man allegedly opened the door and tossed a flaming Molotov cocktail at the deputies and began firing a nail gun at them.

The man was taken to the hospital where he is expected to recover. No deputies were injured by the flames or nails.

The man shot is the father-in-law of a woman who was killed less than a block from his home on Sept. 16. The man is a person of interest in the homicide investigation.

After the alleged firebomb attack, the man was charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and three counts of throwing a destructive device with intent to harm a person.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. The deputy who fired the shots was placed on administrative leave with pay, which is customary in all shootings that involve a deputy. The four other deputies on the scene supposedly did not fire.

While this man is expected to recover quickly from gunshot wounds, he does face some serious criminal charges that will require the assistance of an experienced criminal trial lawyer from start to finish. In the state of Florida, crimes of violence often carry the stiffest penalties. Since the charges involve law enforcement officers, the man could face a lengthy prison term and a mandatory minimum sentence could be imposed. Moreover, when attempted murder cases involve police officers the State can be more difficult to negotiate with because they tend to be very protective of police, especially if they are wounded.

A person can be charged with attempted murder if that person took steps towards an unlawful killing and had the intent to kill another person. Basically, a prosecutor must prove that the accused had the intent to kill. An Attempted murder conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole. In situations like these, many times charges are filed for attempted first degree murder when a lesser charge, like assault, is more appropriate. If a prosecutor cannot establish intent, you cannot be convicted of attempted murder.

Additionally, Florida law is very strict about cases that involve weapons. Significant penalties can be enforced for merely possessing a weapon. Oftentimes in criminal cases, a strong defense can evoke reduced penalties, lesser charges or a possible dismissal of all charges. Even if evidence seems to point to overwhelming guilt, a proper demonstration of mitigating circumstances prepared by the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can lead to significant decreases in penalties.

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A 21-year-old woman has been accused of murdering an 83-year-old man found dead in a motel room in Tampa. She faces charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery and as of Saturday, she remained in the Hillsborough County Jail.

According to police reports, someone dialed 911 to report an elderly man deceased in a motel room. The only information released is that the man was found Friday with “upper body trauma.”

The victim has yet to be identified. It is also unknown whether the woman has retained legal counsel for the charges she faces.

With so few facts being released about this case, it is hard to expound on the predicament this woman faces. Generally speaking, first-degree murder is considered a Capital Offense in Florida with the possible punishments being quite severe; the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. With that said, any time someone is accused of murder, it is extremely important to contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney to start investigating your case immediately. Your rights can be best protected once you have an attorney with the highest caliber of professionalism on your side.

The killing of another human being can be justified as excusable homicide if a few circumstances can be proved: the killing took place due to an accident carried out by a lawful act and without any unlawful intent, the killing was the result of a mishap in the heat of the moment following ample provocation or the killing came about due to an unexpected attack that was not carried out in a cruel and unusual manner with no dangerous weapon used. Under Florida law, justifiable homicide can be a defense to first-degree murder if a party is killed while you were resisting someone attempting to kill you or commit a felony against you. Self-defense can also play a part in a murder defense, if the use of deadly force can be justified.

If you have been arrested for first-degree murder in Florida and are thinking of defending yourself or are contemplating accepting the legal aid appointed to you, please call the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton today. We can offer you a free consultation and will not falter in our attempts to guide you through the best possible course of action that can be taken for your distinct situation.

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A 16-year-old Sarasota, Florida teen was taken into custody on Sunday, April 17, 2011 for his involvement in the shooting of two British tourists on holiday from England. He was jailed and charged with two counts of murder.

According to BayNews9, the tourists, aged 24 and 25, were killed Saturday morning at The Courts public housing project in the 1700 block of Carver Court in Sarasota, FL. Officials have not determined why the tourists were at the location, which is in an area of town police known to be problematic.

Detectives said the tourists were staying at a hotel on Longboat Key, around 12 miles from where they were shot. The shooting happened just before 3 a.m.

The 16-year-old male arrested for the crime lives in the neighborhood the shooting took place and has a previous record. A few weeks ago he was arrested for aggravated assault with a handgun.

Officials believe that others were involved and are continuing their investigation. Prosecutors will decide of the boy will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

The state of Florida’s approach to juvenile crime differs in its approach to adult crimes. The ambition for the juvenile court system is not as much to punish but to rehabilitate the juvenile. Criminals sentenced as juveniles can be placed under house arrest or in a juvenile detention center. This is not the same as prison, but more of a passing short-term detention where the juvenile can be given direction, education and mental health or substance abuse services from certified juvenile crime specialists.

For murder offenses, Florida courts have the diplomacy to sentence juveniles to life without parole. When the court believes an offense is too serious for fleeting confinement, the child is sentenced as an adult and sent to a prison with other adult inhabitants. The judge typically has to give a reason for transferring the juvenile to an adult court to be tried as an adult, but not always. As a courtesy, the court sometimes holds the juvenile in the detention center until he receives a sentence as an adult. The court may also impose holding the child until reaching a certain age, usually 19, for transfer to the adult facility.

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A Lady Lake, Florida woman has been arrested this week for her connection in the January murder of a Wildwood, Florida man.

A warrant for the woman’s arrest was obtained on March 7 after evidence indicated that her vehicle was used to allegedly transport the deceased man’s body to the backyard of an abandoned home.

Sumter County detectives recovered the man’s body on Jan. 20. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death as a homicide and determined the cause to be multiple gunshot wounds.

The Sumter County Times reports the case is still under investigation.

Murder is an extremely serious charge that is defined as a homicide that is premeditated by the accused. Premeditation is sometimes referred to as malice aforethought because they both have similar meanings in regard to murder. When something is premeditated it is carried out with careful planning and consideration. Malice aforethought is used to illustrate a murder that is carried out deliberately, carelessly, and with tremendous discount for human life.

Depending on the evidence of the case, the woman could be charged with first, second or third degree murder. First degree murder is a capital felony that is punishable in the state of Florida by life imprisonment or the death penalty. Second degree murder is a first degree felony that is punishable by a maximum life sentence in prison. Third degree murder is a second degree felony described as a death that occurs while the accused is committing another felony. Upon further investigation into this case the State can decipher an appropriate murder charge for the woman in question.

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