Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

A rather disturbing story was featured in today’s St. Pete Times about a Seminole mother who tried to sell her son for $2,000 because of her addiction to prescription drugs.

The 5-year-old boy was excited to start kindergarten Tuesday in Tampa.

Jim and Betty Gardner, who have helped raise the boy since he was an infant, were working hard to prepare him by establishing a morning routine.

Now, they’re worried how his first school year will begin.

The child was taken into protective custody Saturday after authorities arrested his mother and accused her of trying to sell him to the Gardners for $2,000.

Jessica Mickles Beers, 28, whose last known address was in Seminole, was charged with Felony Sale of Parental Rights along with a Violation of Probation (VOP) on her pending Grand Theft charge. At her First Appearance Hearing on Sunday, bail was set at $10,000.Gardner, 58, said he and his wife met Beers when the boy was just a few months old after she called their church for assistance. They took food and diapers to her.

Beers essentially was homeless, but was living with other people. She asked to move in with the Gardners and they agreed, Gardner said.

For the next five (5) years or so, the Gardners, who have fostered numerous children over the years, helped take care of Beers and her child.

About two years ago, Beers began talking about having the couple take guardianship of her son but never followed through with it. Early Saturday, Gardner said, Beers called him and offered to sign away her parental rights if the Gardners would pay her $2,000.

“It was money or else …” Gardner said. “I thought ‘Whoa, that’s illegal.’ “He contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), which arrested Beers at a Seminole grocery store when she came to collect the cash.

The child was not with Beers, but she told authorities where he could be found, Gardner said. Gardner said he believes Beers is addicted to prescription drugs.
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As reported by BayNews9, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is at it again.

In another “cost-cutting” measure, the Polk County Jail will no longer provide free underwear to its inmates.Normally, when an inmate is booked in the jail, they are given an orange shirt, orange pants and underwear.

In order to save money, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has proposed making males inmates pay if they want their “tighty whities.”

The cost-saving measure was part of the sheriff’s 2011-2012 budget he presented to county commissioners Thursday afternoon. Judd said it will save the county $45,000.

Although women behind bars will still be provided underwear, the men will have to pay.

“For those who don’t want to pay, they can let the breeze blow up one leg and out the other,” Judd said (in classic Grady Judd fashion).

The idea drew smiles from several county commissioners and laughter from the crowd.

“You and I buy it at the store. So, if they want it, they can buy it,” he said. Judd said they are also cutting eleven (11) positions, including six (6) supervisors.

Judd says while his department is doing more with less, his highest priority remains keeping the people of Polk County safe.

Judd said the new policy will not cause the quality of service from the department to go down.

“None of these cuts will keep us from answering the call,” Judd said.

FYI — As for the underwear, it’s about $2.50 for briefs and $4.50 for boxers. The choice is up to the inmates.

“We give our inmates choices at our jail,” he said.

The new underwear rule will breeze into effect Aug. 1st.
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A disturbing story in last week’s Chicago Tribune details a “brotherly love” episode (involving an affair, a dead cat and text messaged photos) gone wrong:

Enraged after his older brother had an affair with his fiancee, an Illinois man killed his brother’s cat, then texted him a photo of it along with the message: “This is what you did to me.”

Sean Mulcahy, 31, of Homer Glen, pleaded guilty to a Felony Animal Cruelty charge Wednesday, telling Judge Edward Burmila he was “sorry” for slitting the throat of his brother’s cat Lucifer in August. Will County sheriff’s police found the cat in a ditch across the street from the Homer Glen home where Mulcahy lived with his brother Ryan, 33. Police also found a pool of blood in the driveway.The Mulcahy brothers had been fighting August 5th when Ryan Mulcahy received a text message with a picture of his bloodied pet around 4:50 a.m., according to court records. Police arrested Sean Mulcahy when he returned to the home about three (3) hours later.That same day, Ryan Mulcahy took out an order of protection against his brother Sean for himself and his 9-year-old son, writing that “based on this degree of Animal Cruelty I am in fear of my life and my family.” The order has since expired.

As we enter another Holiday Season, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. would like to wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Holiday weekend.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.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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St. Petersburg police say a woman stabbed a man after an argument over which TV program to watch Monday night.According to the police department, Delois Holley went to David Richard Marion’s apartment to watch The Closer, but he wanted to watch Monday Night Football. In retrospect, I would have killed to not have watched my beloved New York Jets get run by the New England Patriots.They then got into argument over money and Marion told her to leave his apartment. Police said Holley then stabbed Marion multiple times before going back to her apartment, where she was arrested for Attempted Second Degree Murder. She is currently being held in the Pinellas County Jail on a $75,000 bond.

Marion was taken to Bayfront Medical Center as a trauma alert
The incident took place at the Arlington Apartments.

According to ESPN.com, Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested Tuesday for Aggravated Stalking, a Third-Degree Felony (punishable by up to five (5) years in prison), for allegedly sending a former girlfriend a threatening text message.The school did not announce any disciplinary action against the 5-foot-9 Junior, but offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said, “Chris Rainey is not a part of our team right now. That’s really all I have to say on that.”

Florida coach Urban Meyer met with reporters on Wednesday and said, “There will be further evaluation as we go. The immediacy of it is that he’s not with our team.”

Meyer would not speculate how long Rainey would be out. Rainey was released from the Alachua County Jail on his own recognizance (ROR) and ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.

The alleged victim also was in Court with her mother and sister. The woman told Judge Denise R. Ferrero she does not fear Rainey but was concerned about retribution from the public following all the media attention.

She also asked for the charges to be dropped. However, in the State of Florida, Domestic Violence charges can be filed by the State Attorney’s Office even if the victim is uncooperative or does not want to prosecute. Florida has what’s known as a “pro-prosecution” domestic violence policy.

“I did not want to have him arrested,” she said. “When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges. I don’t fear for my safety. … People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I’m not afraid of him. I’m more afraid of all the repercussions.”

According to the Gainesville Police Department, Rainey sent the woman he dated on-and-off the last three (3) years a text message that read: “Time to die, bitch” after leaving her home.Officer Jesse Bostick said the woman fell asleep and missed a call from Rainey. Rainey then went to her home, they talked and she told him to leave. According to Bostick, the woman got the text a short time later and called police.

Rainey’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told The Associated Press that his client was “overcharged by the arresting agency.”

“My early sense is this will be something less than a Third Fegree Felony,” Johnson said. “I think this will turn out to be what I think this is, which is something minor. I don’t think that the [state] statute was intended for this kind of thing.”

I tend to agree with Rainey’s attorney about this charge. “Aggravated Stalking” would require conduct on Rainey’s part that was willful, malicious and repeated. In my opinion, one text message, even of this nature, falls short of this Felony offense.

Johnson called Rainey a “terrific kid who works his rear end off” in the classroom and on the football field and added that he hopes Rainey will be reinstated this season.

“I think this is something that will pass,” Johnson said. “He never intended for this to happen nor would he ever hurt this woman. He cares deeply about this woman. He didn’t handle it like he should have. He knows that. Hopefully this will end up being a bump in the road.”

Florida will likely be without Rainey at Tennessee on Saturday. State Attorney Bill Cervone told Florida Today that no decisions on the case will be made this week.

Rainey, from nearby Lakeland, Florida has six (6) receptions and a touchdown this season. He’s also the team’s primary punt returner. He missed the second half of Saturday’s game against South Florida (USF) with a concussion.

Rainey also missed practice Monday.

Meyer has suspended other players, including defensive end Carlos Dunlap last season and receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. this summer, immediately following arrests. Rainey is the 27th player arrested during Meyer’s six (6) seasons in Gainesville. And they call my school, The University of Miami, “Thug-U?”

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low was used in this report.
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For some people, bailing out of the Pinellas County Jail is now as simple as whipping out a credit card. A recent story in the St. Pete Times describes a new county program which allows inmates to use a credit card to bond out of the Pinellas County Jail on minor offenses.

You can now use a debit card or credit card to post bail of $750 or less, instead of paying cash or using a bail bond company. It is the first program of its kind in the Tampa Bay area and one of only seven (7) in Florida.Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats says it’s a convenience with a purpose: to reduce the number of people in the Pinellas County Jail awaiting trial.

The program emerged from a meeting among the Sheriff, County Clerk, Chief Judge, Public Defender and State Attorney.

The $750 bail limit was a compromise between the parties. Sheriff Coats wanted $1,000 so more people could use the program. State Attorney Bernie McCabe wanted $500 (presumably, so less people would be able to bond out). The $750 limit is a start, Coats said, and might be adjusted.

The limit means only a small percentage of people in jail — those charged with minor crimes — can use the program.

Of the 3,252 people in the Pinellas County Jail Wednesday morning (September 8, 2010), 74 had bail of $750 or less. Another 1,075 people had bail between $750 and $1 million. The rest could not get out on bail. At least two dozen people have used the program since it began August 23rd.

Before now, someone had to appear in person with cash, a money order or a bail bond agent. That often meant calling mom or dad or your best friend to come bail you out.

Now anyone, even the inmate, can do it by phone with a credit or debit card.

The crimes covered by the $750 limit are mainly non-violent Misdemeanors and Traffic Offenses. For instance, No Valid Driver’s License (NVDL) or an Open Container violation carry a standard $250 bail. On the other hand, Armed Robbery with a Firearm typically carries a bail of $50,000.

A 7 percent fee will be added by Government Payment Service of Indianapolis, which runs the program. The Sheriff’s Office and Clerk’s Office each get a 10 percent cut of that fee.

Government Payment Services also accepts all liability for the transactions, said Marian Garret, the jail’s inmate records supervisor. That will help protect the government from people who use stolen credit cards or don’t pay their debts, she said.

The company has worked with the Florida Department of Corrections for more than a decade, processing Probation and Parole fees. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin use the company for a majority of their governmental services.

Bail bond companies, which have the most to lose from such a program, are skeptical.Michael Nefzger of BAIL Florida, an association for bail agents, thinks the added fees could become exorbitant. It could also lead to more people using stolen credit cards, he said.

Nefzger said the real problem with jail crowding is too many people facing charges in which state law forbids release on bail.
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A 26-year-old man is accused of Stalking a woman and making threats against her life, according to a story in today’s St. Pete Times. The stalker has been using his cell phone to leave the victim disturbing voice mail and text messages.

Texts such as “I’ll kill you” and “take ’em to your grave” were sent to the victim, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

The woman and her mother may have even been the target of a “drive-by shooting” last month, though no one has been arrested in connection with that.

Jared Borgesto Murray was arrested and charged Monday with Aggravated Stalking (a very serious Felony).According to his arrest warrant, Murray is accused of harassing the victim between November 20th and December 20th. The victim and her mother called the police in November and told them that Murray had been calling both of them and leaving threatening messages.

As they spoke to an officer the morning of Nov. 20th, the arrest warrant said, the victim’s cell phone received two (2) text messages from Murray threatening to hurt her and the police if they “get in my way.”

On Dec. 15th, according to the arrest warrant, the woman told the police that she was still receiving threats even after changing her cell phone number. That month, she also obtained a Domestic Violence Injunction (DVI) against Murray.

Two (2) days later, the woman’s mother told the police that she heard a “loud bang” around 12:25 a.m. Police found bullet holes in the Mazda parked outside and a hole in the front of their house. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The arrest warrant also detailed a number of threatening text messages:

“Immna kill you. An then I’m gonna kill myself.”

“U hurt me now its time for u to hurt exclusively lol watch thank god.”

“Anybody … even look at me crazy your jeopardizing ya whole family an dats on my life.”Sprint was able to connect the two (2) cell phone numbers that the police said were being used to harass the victim to Murray. Murray was also arrested last year in a separate Domestic Battery incident involving the same victim, according to the police.Murray, of 2500 14th Street South, posted $100,000 bail and was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Monday.
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A story in this morning’s St. Pete Times about the “SCRAM” monitor caught my attention:

For a solid year, Stephen Hulgin knew he could not sneak a drink without getting locked up.

The reason was strapped around his ankle: an alcohol monitoring device he wore 24 hours a day, as part of his sentence for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction. If he took a drink, the device would know it.”I knew it was there; I knew I couldn’t beat it,” Hulgin said. And he knew what the judge had told him: One more drink and “I go to prison for four (4) years.”

Hulgin, 44, who lives in a Clearwater rehab center and has a paving company, recently had his electronic monitor removed after an alcohol-free year. He says the device helped him and was a “big component of me getting out of jail.”

It also is becoming part of the anti-alcohol strategy for the criminal justice system in the Tampa Bay area. Judges are increasingly requiring monitoring devices for Defendants who need to prove they’re not drinking.

“I think it can be a very effective tool in protecting the public,” said Pinellas County Judge Donald E. Horrox, who has ordered Defendants to wear them.

Week after week, judges sentence people for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and other alcohol-related offenses. While some get jail time, probation usually follows. Others are released on bail as they await their trial.

Judges almost always order these people to stop drinking alcohol while they are on probation or awaiting their trial. But how do you make sure someone doesn’t drink?

There are ways, such as random urine samples, mandatory AA meetings, and visits to probation officers — all with the threat of more jail time looming overhead.

But it can still be possible to cheat, partly because traces of alcohol disappear from the body more quickly than other drugs. Alcohol monitors are designed to take away that possibility.

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or “SCRAM” brand alcohol bracelet, which has been used in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, is strapped to a Defendant’s leg above his or her ankle and can be hidden under a pants cuff.

It samples sweat on the skin every thirty (30) minutes, and detects the presence of alcohol. It records the data and sends results back to a central computer and, eventually, on to the court system.

“It’s a Breathalyzer for your ankle,” said Kathleen Brown, spokeswoman for the Denver-based company that makes them, Alcohol Monitoring Systems.

It also contains anti-tampering technology designed to detect when someone is trying to fool the device — such as the person who wedged a piece of baloney in between his ankle and the bracelet. (Baloney may feel roughly like skin, but it’s cold and doesn’t sweat.)

About fifty (50) of the SCRAM bracelets are in use at any one time in the Tampa Bay area, said local representative and bail bondsman Frank Kopczynski. More than 10,000 are in use nationwide, Brown said.Pinellas County Judge Paul Levine said he became intrigued with the alcohol bracelets when he realized they provide a good way to continuously check on serious alcohol offenders, such as repeat drunken drivers. They’re also good for Domestic Violence offenders who get violent when drunk; take away the alcohol, and you often take away the violence, he said.

But over time, he said he heard from Defendants who say “they can’t believe they actually went ninety (90) days without drinking, and it helps their recovery.”

“It’s a tool now to help break the cycle of drinking,” he said.

Hulgin agrees. He said when he was sentenced in Pasco County to wear the bracelet for a full year, the judge told him “If I drank, I’d be in prison. He made sure I understood that if I failed … I’m going away.”

He wore it 24 hours a day, even in the shower. After about three (3) sober months, he said he felt his alcohol cravings subside. Now that he is off the bracelet, he is optimistic that he will also be able to stay off alcohol, with help from his family and the Christian recovery center where he lives, called Center of Hope.

“It helped me,” Hulgin said. And he added, “it’s nice to be able to prove to the Court system and society that I haven’t drank a drop.”

But he does have a reason to be happy to get off of it. It costs $10 a day, and he’s the one who had to pay it.

That $300 a month is a burden that not everyone can afford. But Kopczynski, the Tampa Bay representative for SCRAM monitors, said $10 a day is less than some people spend at bars. He also has a question for people who have been released from jail but are complaining about the cost of the bracelet:

“How much money are you making in jail?”
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Yes. You read correctly. She was charged with Domestic Battery by beer.

Melva Ann Wixon, 49, was arrested Tuesday night on a Domestic Battery charge after a wet incident at her apartment.

Here’s what the po-po have to say:

Wixon got home about 7:00 p.m. at an apartment she shares with her boyfriend, Eric Hartman. She had been drinking at a bar. He had been sleeping.

She was angry at him because he plans to move to Ohio. So she poured beer on him. This woke him up.

Displeased by her action, Hartman called the police.

Wixon was still at the Pinellas County Jail Wednesday morning awaiting her Advisory/ First Appearance before a Judge.Unfortunately, the brand of beer she wielded was not included in the incident report. Let’s only hope it wasn’t something good like Guinness or Newcastle!!
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