Articles Posted in Juvenile Crimes

scarface.jpg Like a junior “Scarface” or the plotline from “21 Jump Street”, an Ohio teen is accused of being one of the biggest drug traffickers in Cincinnati. Per an article in the Washington Post, at an age where most boys are getting ready for prom, 17 year old Tyler Pagenstecher pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in juvenile court.

Tyler is accused of being a major player in a large marijuana ring, one so large that it was selling over $20,000 of pot per month to fellow students in this Ohio suburb. He has been called everything from “a little czar” to “one of the most successful teenage drug dealers” in midwest history. Per the police report, while adults ran the drug ring, the juvenile drug dealer had six teenage “lieutenants” directly under his control who helped sell the pot. The teen, who admitted selling pot since he was 15, at first stayed off police radar. He avoided selling at school and would only sell from his home. Police eventually got word of him from informants and undercover agents bought drugs off Tyler on two seperate occasions.

Besides Tyler Pagenstecher, seven adults were also arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana. They are accused of growing weed in suburban homes and a warehouse, using artifical light.

During Tyler’s arrest, police seized over 600 marijuana plants with a cash value of over $3 million dollars! They also seized over $6,000 in cash they found in the juvenile’s bedroom. marijuana.jpg

By the accounts of local teachers, Tyler was a smart student who has achieved cult-like status in his highschool for fooling the police for so long. The prosecutor for the case agrees that Tyler is intelligent and is hoping that he will dedicate himself to going straight.

What would happen to him in Florida Courts?

As Florida juvenile defense lawyers we have handled numerous juvenile cases throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pasco counties. The juvenile court system was made in part to help teenagers with bad choices they may make. Normally a case such as drug trafficking might result in years in prison for an adult offender. A juvenile offender may be given a more lenient sentence including probation or even a boot camp option rather then adult prison.

If you have any further questions for the juvenile crime lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A., call us at 727.286.6141 or contact us for a free consultation.
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While the Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog regularly reports on the latest legal trends throughout the State of Florida, I sure hope this doesn’t become the latest Florida trend: beating people up and posting videos online.

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Two (2) 15-year-old teens were arrested in Palm Bay after police were tipped to a video of them beating another teen unconscious, according to TCPalm.

According to an online story on BayNews9.com, a Polk County teenager and her Juvenile friends made a costly trip to the shopping mall and now they are all facing criminal charges.

Ashley Turner, 16, went to the Lakeland Square Mall and ended up getting more than she bargained for from her local Spencer’s Gifts store.

“We just went in there and sprayed some spray,” she said. “I didn’t know I was Shoplifting.”

As we enter another Holiday Season, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. would like to wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Holiday weekend.

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With the support of all of our friends, family and clients, 2010 was another excellent year for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. And for that, we have much to be thankful for this Holiday Season.

To our family and friends, thank you for your patience and understanding when it was necessary to work late nights and/or weekends.

To our business colleagues and our outstanding network of fellow attorneys, thank you for not only your referrals but for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to provide an experienced and aggressive representation to those that you’ve sent our way.

And to both our former and present clients, thank you for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to protect your rights and to handle your important criminal and/or traffic-related matters.

As many of you know, 2010 presented some different challenges for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. Without your support, we would not have been able to achieve the many successes that came our way.

On behalf of the entire Blake & Dorsten, P.A. team (Pam, Eryn, Oatie and myself), have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season.

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As always, attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten will be available throughout the Holiday Weekend. In fact, we were very grateful to sign up a new Client today and make a Christmas Eve trip to the Pinellas County Jail.
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According to a breaking story on TampaBay.com, a 28-year-old Tampa man was confronted by two (2) teenagers as he was jogging after midnight in Town ‘n Country and (following a physical altercation) he shot one of them to death, said Larry McKinnon, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) spokesman.

The shooting happened after 1:00 a.m., near Pinehurst Drive and Hickory Circle. The teens were dressed in black and wearing hooded jackets, McKinnon said. No further information was given as to why two (2) teenagers would be out at 1:00 a.m., dressed in all black and wearing hoodies. However, its doubtful that they were also “out for a jog.”

Thomas Baker, of 9015 Hickory Circle, fired multiple rounds with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, McKinnon said. According to the online story, he was cooperative with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) investigation.

It also appears that Mr. Baker will have a solid defense under Florida’s relatively-new “Stand Your Ground” law.

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Carlos Musteliel, 18, of 8921 Camino Villa Boulevard in Tampa, died from a gunshot to the chest. Deputies found him dead in a roadway at 1:24 a.m.

Five (5) houses away from where the shooting happened, Baker stood outside his home Wednesday morning smoking a cigarette. “I don’t want to talk,” he said. “It was a terrible thing.”

Here’s what deputies said happened:

The two (2) teens started talking to Baker. The conversation escalated into an altercation and Musteliel punched him. Baker said he thought one of the teens had a weapon and that a Robbery was about to take place. Baker pulled his gun and shot Musteliel multiple times in the upper torso. The other teen was uninjured, ran away and may have hidden behind a nearby house and discarded his jacket in the yard.

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The 16-year-old returned when deputies arrived and was being questioned as a witness. He will not be identified by authorities (presumably because he is a Juvenile).

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives were conferring with Tampa prosecutors, who will determine if any criminal charges will be filed (and who they will be filed against).

Neighbor William McVey, 63, said he awoke to the sound of five (5) gunshots. “Somebody getting killed like that is awful,” he said. “What an awful way to start the Thanksgiving weekend.”

He said the neighborhood is pretty quiet with a lot of children.

Baker and the teenagers live in the neighborhood but don’t know each other, sheriff’s detectives said.

Baker has a concealed weapons permit and said he routinely jogs late at night, McKinnon said.
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Every once in awhile, the local media publishes a story that is so “right-on-point,” that I’d rather cut-and-paste the entire story and quote to it (rather than provide commentary about it). In this case, I caught an early glimpse this evening of an article in tomorrow’s St. Pete Times, written by Sue Carlton.

The following has been cut and pasted from the online version of tomorrow’s SPT article:

Consider two criminal cases, alike and not so much, at least when it comes to doling out the law in equal measure.

According to a recent story in the St. Petersburg TImes, a 15-year-old boy shoved a teacher into a doorjamb, a boy punched a 12-year-old girl because she said she didn’t like him, and a 14-year-old girl slapped and cursed at a younger classmate.

All three (3) of these incidents took place at John Hopkins Middle School, located at 701 16th Street South in St. Petersburg. Each of these three (3) incidents resulted in an arrest of the Juvenile offender.

In each case, a criminal charge was referred to the State Attorney’s Office by the St. Petersburg Police Department. And, in each of the three (3) cases, the charge was dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.

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These cases represent just a small fraction of the eighty-four (84) arrests made on campus from September, 2009 through February, 2010 as officers and school officials try to restore order on the often-chaotic middle school campus.

According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, these cases are indicative of a current trend: Many cases where the St. Petersburg Police Department make an arrest on a Juvenile offender are ultimately dropped (before formal charges are even filed) by the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office.

The reasons for this current trend vary: uncooperative victims, weak cases or the school already punished the student. Even when a student is prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, Juvenile court judges have limited powers to remove a child from a particular school to prevent future trouble.

According to the St. Pete TImes, “[t]he juvenile system, it seems, can’t fix what ails John Hopkins” Middle School.

“Does every bump in the hallway, every word that starts flying, does it belong down here in the Juvenile justice system?” said Joe Walker, Juvenile Division Director for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, “or is this something that can be handled by the family, by the school system? That’s the question.”

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The State Attorney’s Office won’t comment on specific criminal cases connected to disciplinary problems at John Hopkins Middle School. Furthermore, Juvenile court records are not public record.

“Every case, every one of them is different,” Walker said, “and they all have unique facts about them, and it’s our job to evaluate them to see if they can get to the level of successful prosecution.”

Walker said that school administrators have far more leeway to discipline and rein in students than the criminal justice system. “There’s a lot of remedies available to a principal,” he said.

Prosecutors, he said, have a higher burden of proof in Juvenile Court than arresting officers.

The purpose of the Juvenile justice system, in Florida at least, is to treat and rehabilitate first and punish them later — much later — if ever. And, as far as this author can tell, the Juvenile justice system is not keeping up with or sufficiently scaring the high-risk Juvenile offender.

Until the courts decide to “punish” Juvenile offenders, rather than providing them with a “slap on the wrist” and/or sending them to a Juvenile program (also known as “summer camp”), the Juvenile crime rate in the city of St. Petersburg and greater Pinellas County will continue to rise.

Until then, lock your car and make sure that you have a good alarm system in your home….
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Christy Lynn Martin, a former Azalea Middle School teacher, was sentenced to five (5) years probation Tuesday for “sexting” an eighth grade student, according to the St. Pete Times.

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Martin, 33, pleaded guilty to Transmitting Pornographic Images through an Electronic Device and Transmitting Material Harmful to a Minor. In exchange for her guilty plea, she was sentenced to probation, will have to register as a Sex Offender, wear an electronic monitor and undergo therapy.

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The charges stem from Martin’s relationship with an eighth-grade boy. According to authorities, they called each other “husband” and “wife,” kissed each other and sent each other cell phone photos of their private parts.

They did not have sex and did not see each other outside of school, according to information contained in a search warrant related to the case.

“I realize how wrong I was,” Martin said in court Tuesday, wearing a pale pink sweater, hair pulled into a ponytail. “I accept full responsibility for my behavior…. I am extremely ashamed and remorseful for my actions.”

Martin was arrested in March and had been out of jail on bond.

According to the search warrant, the boy, then 14, said he took two photos of himself on his silver Samsung Messenger cell phone, and the teacher admitted taking three photos of herself on her red Sprint cell phone.

The boy sent his photos to Martin, and Martin acknowledged receiving them. She also admitted sending the photos of herself, but officials deleted the name of the recipient. Photos of a woman’s genitals did appear on the boy’s cell phone.

Martin did not admit to calling the boy her husband but did say she threatened him with “divorce,” because he had “too many little girlfriends.”

The document also says the boy touched Martin on her buttocks outside her clothing, but that she did not touch him in that way.

“You done messed up my son’s life,” the victim’s mother told Martin in court Tuesday. “He thinks it’s OK to go with the wrong kind of women…. You destroyed my son, you destroyed my family. I don’t feel sorry for you one bit. If it was up to me, you’d get life. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

At Azalea Middle, Martin taught five computer classes and one “life choices” course, which involved teaching students about positive relationships, self-esteem building and conflict resolution. The boy was not a student of her’s this year. Martin has been placed on administrative leave.

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As a condition of her probation, Martin can no longer work anywhere with children, including daycare centers, malls, theme parks and schools. Martin said she was working toward a master’s degree.

She asked Judge Cynthia Newton if she could have permission to transport her two children to school. As a single mother, Martin said she had no one else to take them.

“I’m going to allow you to take the kids to school and pick them up from school,” Newton said.

But she could do nothing else on school property.
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A Tampa Bay area teenager, convicted of a violent rape, has been sentenced to 27 years in the Florida State prison system.

Jose Walle, 15, was one of three men accused in a string of attacks throughout the Bay area in the summer of 2008.

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He and two others are facing charges in connection with an Armed Robbery and Armed Sexual Battery at The Table in downtown St. Petersburg. Investigators said the trio also attacked women in Gibsonton and Apollo Beach.

Investigators said that, while Walle himself did not commit any of the rapes, he helped make the crimes happen. In one case, investigators said he pointed a gun at a duct-taped kitchen worker while one of the other, Rigoberto Moron Martinez, raped another employee on the kitchen floor.

According to the St. Pete Times, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone remarked at Walle’s sentencing that: “Quite frankly, the facts of this case are amazingly aggravated; they are very, very serious.”
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Sexting,” the act of sending nude or semi-nude images from one’s cell phone or computer, is being cited as a major factor in the recent death of a Ruskin teenager.

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Thirteen (13) year-old Beth Shields Middle School student Hope Witsell ultimately took her own life when the taunting and bullying by other students became too much to handle.

According to a recent story in the St. Pete Times, Hope Witsell’s death is just the second in the nation in which a connection between “sexting” and teen suicide can be clearly drawn.

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According to Parry Aftab, a nationally known “cyberlawyer” who has appeared on Goodmorning America and the Today show, “This is very important, because it shows that sexting-related suicides are tracking the same way cyberbullying-related suicides are.”

A 2009 Harris online poll shows that one (1) in five (5) teens admit that they’ve sent naked pictures of themselves or others over a cell phone. But even that number may be low, according to experts.

While the details leading to Hope’s death vary, many students describe the chain of events this way: During the last week of school in June, Hope forwarded a photo of her breasts to the cell phone of Alex Eargood, a boy she liked. A rival girl, who was the girlfriend of another boy Hope liked and a friend of Alex’s, asked to borrow Alex’s phone on the bus. That girl found the image and forwarded it to other students. Within hours, the image had gone viral at both Beth Shields Middle School and Lennard High School.

Aside from the embarrassment associated with nude photos landing in the wrong hands, Florida law considers the possession or distribution of nude images of minors to be Child Pornography, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison.

Unfortunately, while Hope’s death may be the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay area (and the State of Florida), it will probably not be the last.

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