Articles Posted in Homicide

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A Largo, Florida man has pled no contest to a charge that he hired someone to murder his estranged wife.

The man accepted the open plea on Friday, according to the Miami Herald.

The 53-year-old central Florida man allegedly met with a tipster and an undercover detective in 2009 to arrange the murder. According to the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office, the man requested his wife’s death involve a car accident.

The man’s son was seriously injured in a car crash involving the son of wrestler Hulk Hogan, Nick Bollea, in 2007.

Under Florida state guidelines, this man could be sentenced to as few as 6.4 years in prison or as much as 40 years in prison. The fact that he made an open plea means that he had no agreement with State prosecutors about his sentence. Pleading “no contest” for a criminal charge is not an admission of guilt, this just means the defendant is choosing not to challenge the charge. For sentencing purposes, a plea of no contest and guilty are treated the same. The court does not change a sentence or punishment of a crime because a defendant pleads no contest instead of guilty on a criminal charge.

A plea of no contest is viewed differently when a victim sues a defendant in a civil lawsuit. If this man’s wife chooses to sue for damages in civil court, there is no evidence of his liability in the case because he entered a plea of “no contest.” If he had pled guilty, then there would be sufficient evidence of his liability in the matter.

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Generally the job of the Public Defender is thankless, and the job of Prosecutor is even more thankless, but very rarely are they actually dangerous. It is being reported by the Tampa Tribune that the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office have charged a defendant, currently in custody, for arranging for the murders of a local Assistant State Attorney and his local Assistant Public Defender. While currently facing serious prison time for two counts of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Victim under twelve (12) years of age and one count of Sexual Battery on a Victim under twelve (12) years of age, the defendant apparently was in a position to discuss this plot.

According to the reports, the defendant told the confidential informant, while in custody, that he was owed $8,000 in back Social Security refunds and would pay $3,000 for each of the murders. The report goes on to say the Sheriff’s Office is in possession of a written IOU by the defendant of the $6,000 payment.

This defendant is now additionally charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. It is unclear who the court will appoint to represent him and further what Public Defender’s Office will be responsible to provide the defense attorney. It would appear there is a conflict between him and the Assistant Public Defender he allegedly was going to pay $3,000 to have murdered. This case will certainly deal with the mental health of the defendant and the ability to carry out such an arrangement. The defendant’s location in jail during these alleged negotiations are the most striking part of this case. It may be troublesome for a jury to believe he could carry out this plan from jail.

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Despite no known criminal priors, a 23-year-old is behind bars, according to the St. Petersburg Times, in Land O’ Lakes, Pasco County Jail, after a botched traffic stop on Friday night.

Allegedly during a “routine” stop for a missing tag and suspicion of ties to a recent burglary, the defendant tried to ram a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office cruiser in an attempt to hit a deputy who was out of his vehicle.

After the help of a K-9 unit tracking down the defendant who fled on foot, the young man was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault on law enforcement officers, possession of marijuana, reckless driving and driving under the influence. Pasco County first appearance bond judge levied a bail amount of $120,450.

To make matters more complicated, one of the deputies involved in the apprehension of the defendant had a “ride-a-long” from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Explorer program with him. No doubt, that will be a night to remember for that volunteer youngster.

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According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is investigating injuries sustained by a 54-year old Inverness, FL man in an alleged shooting. Not fifteen minutes later, at approximately 5:00 a.m., another Inverness man hobbled into the Inverness, FL Huddle House Restaurant with stab wounds on his neck and wrist. Citrus County is a community that has seen its fair share of criminal episodes in recent years– having two violent offenses occur in such close proximity in time would seem to indicate that they are connected. However, police believe these incidents are unrelated.

Both alleged Citrus County crimes are being investigated by police at the time of this post. In Florida, arrests for this type of case could range from assault, attempted Murder, Attempted Manslaughter, Felony Battery or Aggravated Battery.

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According to the Ocala Star Banner, authorities arrested a 20-year-old man who was allegedly involved in shooting at a car in a W. State Road 40 parking lot on Thursday. Witnesses say the man fired several shots at a white Chevrolet Impala that was getting detailed and was occupied by two juveniles.

As the shots were being fired, an off-duty Marion County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer saw what was occurring and withdrew his personal weapon and fired shots at the shooter. No one was injured during the shooting.

Police say that the alleged perpetrator turned himself in a little more than 24 hours after the incident. He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm which if convicted, could subject him to a mandatory minimum prison term.

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ABC Action News is reporting that prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty in Casey Anthony’s case- the central Florida woman charged with killing her 3-year-old daughter. The Orange County State Attorney’s Office announced in a news release Friday that it is not in the best interest of the people of the State of Florida to pursue the death penalty for Anthony.

The victim was last seen in June but her mother did not report her missing until July. The toddler’s body has not been recovered. The 22-year-old defendant has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, child abuse, aggravated manslaughter and four counts of lying to investigators about the disappearance of her daughter. She faces life in prison if convicted.

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After being found guilty of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated battery and criminal mischief, an Ocala woman faces upwards of 35 years–with a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years– in state prison. This will be a tough pill for the Ocala defendant to swallow as, according to Suevon Lee from the Ocala Star-Banner, prior to trial the Marion County State Attorney’s Office extended a plea offer of five years state prison.

Oddly enough, the charges related to the attempted murder of the Ocala woman’s ex-husband who had been spotted signing Karaoke in the park with another woman. Later that day, the defendant ran her ex-husband over with a car while he was sitting on a friend’s front porch enjoying a cold beer. Apparently, although the couple had been divorced, prior to the incident they had been staying with each other.

It is unclear whether the victim’s music selection or his choice of female companionship motivated the defendant to take the action she did. Regardless, I have always warned friends and colleagues that nothing good can come of karaoke as “good” and karaoke cannot possibly co-exist. Ocala criminal lawyer Whittel & Melton, LLC urges all Karaoke singers and audiences to practice safe Karaoke- namely to perform with one eye on the lyrics and the other on oncoming traffic.

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According to Nomaan Merchant of the St. Pete Times, attorneys from the Pasco County State Attorney’s Office confirmed their intent to charge two juveniles, ages 15 and 16, as adults for the attempted first-degree murder of a Pasco County Sheriff’s Deputy during an armed burglary.

It is alleged that the two teenagers shot at the Deputy during the burglary of a convenience store in Lacoochee when he blocked their escape route. Both teens could potentially face life in Florida state prison if convicted.

It is likely that the defense will move the court for a change in venue in light of the fact that victim in this case was a Pasco County Deputy as it would be unlikely to find an impartial jury to render a verdict in this matter. This case is an example of the State’s use of the felony-murder rule– which gives the State Attorney’s Office the ability to bring a more serious criminal charge if they allege that someone other than the defendant was killed, or attempted to be killed during the course of a dangerous felony, such as armed burglary.

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The Hernando County State Attorney’s Office has filed a criminal indictment against a Brooksville, FL man charged with the 2006 murder of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma, an elderly couple living in Masaryktown, Florida. John Frank of the St. Petersburg Times reports there may still be other indictments coming down relating to the DePalma murders.

The State Attorney’s Office has yet to make a decision as to its sentencing goals in this matter, but the defendant could face the death penalty if convicted in these cases.

The DePalmas’ murder shocked the Hernando County community where they lived as they were much like any other elderly, retired couple living in the area. As a result, there has been a substantial amount of media attention surrounding the two-year investigation into the murders, which could make it difficult for the defendant to get a fair trial in Central Florida.

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