Articles Posted in Crimes of Violence

Florida violent crimes defense.jpg From an Orlando news station, a former Florida A & M bandmember has been convicted of manslaughter for his actions in the hazing death of another man.

Former FAMU percussionist Dante Martin was found guilty of manslaughter and multiple counts of hazing in what the prosecutor is saying sends a powerful message.

“I hope this scares people enough to stop it and to realize it’s not tworth it and to just find better ways to show you belong than hitting people …or endangering their lives” he said outside the courtroom.

After the verdict of “guilty”, Martin, who faces up to 22 years in prison and will be sentenced January 9, showed no emotion. Their were audible gasps in the courtroom including from the victim’s parents.

Martin’s criminal defense lawyers made no statement but said they planned to appeal on behalf of their now 27-year-old client. He was made out to be the ringleader of the band group that performed the deadly hazing ritual aboard the team bus in Orlando.

The trial consisted of three days of testimony, four hours of arguements from the state and defense and ended in a guilty verdict after a mere two hours of deliberations.

The Florida A&M band was well known throughout the state and has performed at Super Bowls, Grammys and presidential inaugurations. The death of one of their own had riled the band, including their tradition of hazing new members.

The victim, a FAMU student for seven years, volunteered to be hazed in a particular ritual known as “crossing bus C” on November 19, 2011.

This particular ritual consisted of him crossing the front to the back of the bus while being pummeled by fellow band members. He was allegedly hit more then 100 times by fists and drumsticks.

The vicitm cooapsed soon after the ritual, which followed the Florida Classic game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University. At the trial, the jury heard the cause of death: hemorrhagic shock as a result of the beating.

The defense tried to claim that this was not hazing, rather it was a character competition that had been in place for generations. The jury clearly did not agree.

Martin, who did not testify on his behalf, was also convicted of two misdemeanor counts of hazing two other students, both of whom were not injured.

10 other band members have previously received community control and probation sentences for their participation in the hazing. Three other students are currently awaiting trial and one man received a year in jail.

The school itself has not escaped blame. FAMU is being sued for wrongful death with the plaintiffs saying this “culture of hazing” has been encouraged for decades.
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Pinellas elderly crimes lawyer.bmp As first reported in the smoking gun website, an octogenarian was beaten inside a “family” chain restaurant after asking the defendant to stop cursing…

An 80-year-old man was the victim of a battery on an elderly charge after he was repeatedly punched and thrown to the ground by the suspect. The reason? The elderly man asked the suspect to stop cursing!

26-year-old Mikie Sawyer was arrested for battery disorderly intoxication and obstruction for his actions in an Applebees last week.

The victim, Harry Sander, told police he was at the neighborhood bar when he heard the drunk victim repeatedly scream and curse. Sawyer was dropping F-bombs and using slang terms for the female anatomy. Harry approached the defendant and politely asked him to lower his voice per the police report.

The defendant refused, words were exchanged and after a no doubt fascinating conversation of the victim’s homeland and customs elsewhere in the world compared to America, the defendant brutally punched the elderly man in the face. Harry was then thrown to the floor and blacked out. He was treated by paramedics at the scene.

There appears to be plenty of evidence in this case. Per the police report, the victim’s face and cheek were bruised and discolored as was the defendant’s knuckles. There were also multiple eye witnesses to this battery.
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After the fight, the defendant left the restaurant with two friends. A manager followed them outside to write down the license plate number. The defendant reacted by charging the employee and threatening to beat him up as well.

The defendant was arrested following a traffic stop. He was arrested and as of this writing there has been no court dates for him.
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931789-Crimes-of-Violence-callout-08-20-10.png From the smoking gun website, a Florida woman is arrested for aggravated battery after she stabbed her client for refusing to have sex with her!

22-year-old Shakieria Anquanette Shan Long was arrested by police earlieer this month for stabbing her client in the neck. His crime? Refusing her sexual advances because she was drinking too much!

Per a witness, there was a BBQ at a nearby Ft. Pierce home. Ms. Long and the victim, 32-year-old Eugene Slyvester entered the house. The defendant was screaming at the man that she wanted to have sex with him. The defendant, who babysat the victim’s children, was very intoxicated.

Ms. Long proceeded to follow the victim to a back bedroom where she grabbed a knife and began stabbing him. Per the witness, the defendant soon came out asking for help, saying she stabbed Eugene and that he “was leaking”.

The witness grabbed a towel and proceeded to put it on the victim’s neck while walking him home. That did not last long as the defendant soon came running up to them and proceeded to punch the victim in the face multiple times.
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Police were called and after questioning witnesses, they arrested the defendant for felony battery, public intoxication and misdemeanor battery.

This was not her first brush with the law. At the time of her arrest, Ms. Long was free on abond in connection with an earlier arrest for disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, and battery on a law enforcement officer. Her bond was quickly revoked and she remains in jail.

As for the victim, Mr. Slyvester received multiple stitches but told police that he did not wish to press charges. As of the time of this writing, no charges had been filed.
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St. Petersburg battery defense lawyer.bmp From an article on the BayNews9 website, two locals who were involved in the “She Fights” online beating controversy, were sentenced to prison for their part.

In the Pinellas County criminal courthouse, two local residents were sentenced to prison for their role in producing homeless fights for the former website shefights.net.

27-year-old Zuzu Vargo and 61-year-old Jeff Williams were previously found guilty by a jury for aggravated abuse of a disabled person. Both defendants were involved in the making of a series of videos that portrayed mentally disabled men being beaten up by women. Often, the men were homeless and were paid a few dollars to have the crime of battery performed on them.

Camera operator Jeff Williams was deemed more responsible for the videos then Ms. Vargo. Williams was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Vargo, who was seen on film punching the victims, was sentenced to three years prison. Her criminal defense lawyer was hoping to avoid prison by showing that she had a need for mental health treatment instead of prison. A doctor testified on her behalf saying she had substance abuse issues as well as suffering from PTSD.

Both defendants spoke to the judge and offered an apology of sort. “We have been portrayed as sort of as going and grabbing people and beating them up and that’s not what this is about. It’s a portrayal of fantasy,” Mr. Williams said. It was later revealed that the defendant paid the victim as part of a settlement agreement from a civil court lawsuit.

Ms. Vargo added “I don’t ever want to cause anyone any pain ever again and I want to make amends any and every way possible. I hope that you can forgive me”.

Both defendants are still awaiting trial for additional counts of aggravated assault from another video.
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St. Petersburg violent crimes defense.bmp As reported in the Tampa Bay Times two women were arrested after physically beating another woman in a “Road Rage” incident…

Two women were arrested in St. Petersburg after allegedly crashing into another woman, ripping her out of her car and brutally beating her.

It started on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg in the early evening last Tuesday. 26-year old Amber Beckwith and 22-year-old Ariel Young were driving in a car when they almost crashed into a fellow driver.

The driver/victim Rose Lucarell, 61, honked at them to avoid a collision. The two suspects did not react well to that. They proceeded to pull up alongside the elderly woman while throwing objects at her car, flipping her off and cursing at her.

Finally Beckwith, who was driving the car, smashed into the front of the victim’s vehicle. Rose Lucarell was forced to stop in the street and Amber Beckwith proceeded to ram her car multiple times.

The two suspects then got out of their car, opened the victim’s door and proceeded to hit her in the head. She eventually was pulled out of the car and severely beaten and thrown to the ground.
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Unfortunately for the suspects, there were multiple witnesses. Some of them helped the victim to the hospital, where she was treated and released. Others called the police on the two “road rage” women.

Both suspects were arrested and taken to the Pinellas County jail where they were held with bond. Ariel Young is facing a charge of burglary with battery. Amber Beckwith is facing charges of burglary with battery and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.

While the aggravated assault with a motor vehicle is a third-degree felony, the two suspects are in a load of trouble as the burglary with battery charge score mandatory prison and is punishable by life (PBL)!
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Pinellas violent crimes defense lawyer.bmpA local crime story from the Tampa Bay Times that brings up some interesting questions about juvenile crime versus adult criminal charges.

16 year-old A. Peterson made his first appearance in the Pinellas county juvenile court yesterday following his arrest for attacking an 83-year-old man. He stood straight while the judge explained his charge, an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. The teen turned himself in to the police and admitted to stealing the man’s car but denied attacking him.

He was one of three people charged in the attack of the man. His 13-year-old brother was charged with grand theft. A 15-year-old female friend of the brothers was also charged with a battery on an elderly victim.

Per the police report, the two Saint Petersburg brothers and the girl attacked the elderly man Tuesday morning as he was in his car at his Pinellas Park condo. The senior citizen fought back and says the oldest brother slashed his arm with a knife. The teens made off with his keys and his car was stolen that night while he slept. There were multiple bikes that were found at the scene of the crime.

The elderly man has some bad injuries from the battery including a fractured cheek bone, multiple stab wounds and a bruised rib. For his part, the man is glad the teens are all in jail as he felt he could have been killed!

At the juvenile hearing, the boy’s father and grandmother were in attendance and expressed remorse for the victim’s injuries.

The juvenile judge assigned a public defender to the defendant and would not release him from custody. Rather, she set another court date.
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LEGAL ANALYSIS
It seems very likely that both the 13 and the 15-year-old will be charged for juvenile crimes and not charged as an adult. This means that any sentence they receive will be much lighter then adult sanctions. In addition by staying in the juvenile system, the teens will be more likely to get the cases dismissed.

The bigger question is what happens to the oldest teen. If he stays in the juvenile court, he cannot be held past the age of 21. As the charge is serious and the teen is older, there is a legitimate chance that the Pinellas State Attorney’s office may file this charge as an adult.

As an adult, robbery with a deadly weapon, Florida Statute 812.12(2)(a) is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison or life (“PBL”) if certain criteria is met.

The next few weeks will be very important to this young man, as decisions that could put him in prison for life will be made.
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Pinellas violent crimes defense.bmp Claiming self defense, a 39-year-old Pinellas Park mother is pushing back against an arrest that charged her with aggravated child abuse.

Police claim the mother of four struck her 16-year-old daughter with a baseball bat, leaving the juvenile dazed and bleeding.

The defendant told the judge at a court appearance Wednesday that she was innocent of the charge. “I am not a child abuser”. Rather, the mother claims that her daughter attacked her multiple times and the victim was hit by mistake.

Police were sent out on a disturbance call to the mother’s Pinellas Park home. They arrived to see the victim bleeding from the head and the suspect still holding on to a baseball bat. The victim told the police that her mother went crazy during an arguement about doing the dishes and committed the battery on her.

The suspect denied this and claimed that her daughter walked into the handle part of the bat.

Initially held without bond, the judge took mercy on the suspect after the DEFENDANT’S mother offered to watch the victim and the defendant claimed that she had three other children at home with nobody to watch them. The judge set the bail at $15,000 and ordered no contact between the two parties.

A look at the defendant’s Pinellas criminal record shows multiple priors spanning almost 20 years for charges that include felony theft, worthless checks, drug charges and violations of probation among others. Ironically, she also had a contributing to the deliquency of a minor charge. If this newest allegation is true, she went from contributing to the deliquency of a child to actually harming a minor!

LEGAL ANALYSIS931789-Crimes-of-Violence-callout-08-20-10.png As it is now charged, aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison!

In addition, it is a level nine offense which means it scores so high that the defendant is looking at a mandatory prison sentence. Depending on how the state chooses to proceed, her criminal defense attorney may be able to claim self defense or negotiate a lower sentence with the state attorney or the judge. There could be parenting classes, anger management courses, counseling, jail and/or probation as possible plea alternatives.
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The “knockout game”-where one or more people commit an assault or battery against a stranger for no reason- has been all over the news. A series of random attacks in New York, Baltimore, Miami and L.A. among others, has received a large amount of media coverage. Is this a real phenomenon or is this overblown like the “summer of the shark” a few years back?

One good thing about the increased coverage means an increase in the amount of arrests. Per “the smoking gun” website, a suspect in a series of “knockout game” attacks was arrested in New York.

Is chivalry dead? It may be to one New York teen as he was arrested for his part of a vicious, unprovoked attack on an elderly woman.

Juvenile Devin Alexander was arrested for a violation of probation and a battery on an elderly charge last Wednesday. Mr. Alexander first came to light after a video was uploaded to a Facebook page. The video, which can be viewed at the above Smoking Gun link, seems to show Devin bragging to a man that he is going to smack an elderly lady as she walks out of the store. When the woman exited , the suspect proceeded to sucker punch her in the back of the head. The hit was greeted by the man filming screaming out in delight multiple times.

These “knockout game” attacks are getting increased media attention. Unlike many other assaults, there appears to be no motive such as robbery or anger at a known victim. Rather the idea is to find a defenseless man, woman or child and beat them for fun.
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Criminal profiling tells us that it is very unusual for women to become serial killers, but that doesn’t mean there have never been any. In fact there have been quite a few, though they have been spread a little thinner through time. If we choose to go back, we can actually discover many women who killed well into double figures. Below are some examples of the worst female serial killers, and there outrageous crimes.

Belle Gunness
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It appears that Belle didn’t take too kindly to the appearance of suitors at her door, the reason we believe this to be true is that she is thought to have killed 32 of them. Perhaps if she had not murdered both of her husbands, she would not have had to have put up with the inconvenience of gentlemen coming to call. Belle is also thought to have killed several of her children meaning about 40 murders all told. The discovery of Belles murders is total irony. She was killed by a lover she had spurned who set fire to her farm in La Porte, Indiana. The investigators of the blaze discovered the bodies that had been buried at her farm. Some say the headless body that was discovered was too small to have been Belle’s, but unmarried gentlemen all over the state breathed a sigh of relief on that day in 1908.

Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzalez
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These sisters, who ran a prostitution house in Guanajuanto, Mexico, hold the distinction of being the country’s most notorious serial killers. The police raided the brothel in 1963 after a tipoff about forced prostitution; what they discovered was the bodies of 91 people buried on the property. Apparently the sisters’ standards were very high, and many of the bodies were those of prostitutes who were killed for “failing to please the clients”. Whether the 11 men who were killed had “failed to please the owners” is not known. How their criminal defense attorney managed to keep them from the gas chamber is still unknown to this day. What is known is that these unsavory siblings were sentenced to 40 years each, and deserved every day.

Juana Barraza

Bringing us more to the current times is the case of Juana Barazza. Barraza is thought to have started killing elderly ladies in 2005, but it could have been as early as 1990. She was finally charged with 16 murders in 2008, after some confusion about her sex and size. The reason the case was so confusing for the police was they believed they were looking for a man. Barraza was actually a 200lb wrestler so the confusion can be understood. Found guilty of 11 murders, she was sentenced to 759 years in prison. Estimates put the actual total of bodies to be between 24 and 49, though she only confessed to 4 murders. The fact that her fingerprints were found at the 11 murders she was convicted of seems to have gone totally over her head.

Never assume a woman is not as capable as a man of these terrible crimes, because history shows us that they are.

Author Bio: The author of this post, Yorrick, is a freelancer by profession and currently writes for Dribbin and Brown, criminal defence solicitors. He has keen interest in psychology and is always on the lookout for interesting happenings around the globe.
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Pinellas violent crimes defense.jpgIn a previous blog entry we wrote about convicted murderers Joe Jenkins and Charles Walker, both of whom escaped from prison based on forged documents. Thanks to an exclusive update from Bay News 9, we have an update on both the escape and the forgerer…with a Pinellas County twist!

In front of a Senate panel, the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement testified about the recent escape from Franklin correctional institution of two murderers within weeks of each other. Instead of nail files or smuggled shovels, they escaped by forged documents fooling the prison and allowing the two men to walk out the door within a few weeks of each other.

Both men were quickly recaptured and the forgery ring began to unravel. Described by a spokesman as a “clever fraud ring among a group of inmates at Franklin CI”, the ringleader was discovered to be 48-year-old Nydeed Nashaddai of Pinellas County.

Nashaddai should have been a suspect from the start. He has an extensive criminal history in Pinellas on dozens of charges including burglary, uttering forged bills, escape, grand theft, and criminal use of personal ID among others. In 2009 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was in Franklin Correctional. He then escaped a few months later by forging court documents saying he was ordered released-in the same manner as he did years later for these two murder convicts!

The investigation revealed that the suspect used real court documents as templates for his forgeries. The one bright spot to come from this is now the prison system and the courts are working towards developing a new, more secure system to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future. The idea of the new security system will allow the clerk of court, judges, jails and prosecutors to be made aware of court orders that may be suspicious.

Meanwhile, the police are anticipating further arrests in connection to this prison escape. As for Nydeed Nashaddai, his forgery days should be over. It is anticipated that he will be charged with numerous additional offenses including facilitating an escape, forgery and aiding and abetting.
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