floridaduh

The Bizarre World of Florida

Fast and Fur-ious: Man in police chase, crash, stopped to play with cats September 2, 2014

Candace Noonan was getting her son ready for school at their Boca Raton home when a complete stranger walked up and opened the back sliding door.

sfl-flduh-police-chase-crash-cats-20140831-001“I said, ’Excuse me, can I help you?’” Noonan said. “He said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. Next door, I’m mowing the lawn. Do you mind if I have a glass of water?'”

Thinking the man was a landscaper, Noonan obliged and went to get the man a bottle of water.

Noonan was unaware that authorities said the man, who was identified as Daniel Pinedo Velapatino, 21, was running from police after leading officers from Delray Beach and Boca Raton on a wild chase, smashing into cars and a police cruiser.

When Noonan came back with a bottle of water, she said Velapatino had entered the house and was lying on the living room floor, playing with her cats.

“It was odd, very odd,” Noonan said. “He was stroking my cat. It almost looked like he either was on drugs or he was mentally handicapped.”

Noonan’s husband started questioning Velapatino, and the stranger fled out the back door.

”We saw cop cars driving around the front of our house, and that’s when we sort of put two and two together,” Noonan said.

Police gave chase, and Velapatino tried to get away by jumping in a canal, but a police boat captured him.

Investigators said Velapatino had been up all night taking drugs at a friend’s place. He is accused of stealing thousands of dollars in cash from a friend’s wallet, crashing a Lexus into a number of cars, including a police cruiser and a fire hydrant before he fled on foot.

Investigators said Velapatino told them he needed the money because he owed his mother $2,000.

 

A question only one state can answer: If you drink more after a crash, can you avoid a DUI? September 1, 2014

Two years ago, a man in a 1973 Rolls-Royce blew through a red light and killed an 81-year-old man driving with his wife to Walmart.

b0s_dui083114c_13766468_8colA Pinellas Park officer suspected Tracy Garon, the driver of the Rolls-Royce, was drunk. The officer led the 59-year-old to a curb and resumed investigating at the crash scene. Left to himself, Garon walked into a Circle K and bought a 24-ounce Miller Lite.

The officer saw Garon leave the convenience store with the beer to his lips and told him to stop drinking. Garon kept swigging. The officer grabbed the beer and placed it on the sidewalk.

“At this point, I had suspicion to believe this act was an attempt to defeat a DUI investigation,” an officer wrote of the Dec. 9, 2012, crash.

Stories of how to beat a DUI test abound. And expert opinions vary on how much people could torpedo a DUI case by drinking after a crash and before a breath or blood test is administered.

“It could certainly muddy the waters,” said Reta Newman, director of the Pinellas County Forensic Lab.

In Garon’s case, both he and the officer knew that the can of Miller Lite could be a key piece of evidence in a DUI manslaughter prosecution.

The officer tried to secure the can as evidence. Before he could, Garon kicked it over, spilling it onto the sidewalk.

The strategy is this: If you drink after a crash and before a test, it will be harder for police to determine your blood alcohol level at the time you committed the supposed crime.

“We have people who when pulled over for driving drunk … throw the key out of the car and pop open a beer,” said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Adam Geissenberger.

This could create a problem for police, because if a blood test shows the person is drunk, how can investigators prove that the alcohol consumed after the crash didn’t put them over the limit?

Clearwater defense lawyer Nicholas Dorsten represented Garon. He also represented another client who tried the same tactic.

In that instance, an officer pulled over a St. Petersburg woman on her way home from a Christmas party. The officer called for a member of the DUI unit so they could determine whether the woman had been drinking. Before the other officer arrived, the woman walked inside her home and drank alcohol, Dorsten said. She returned outside in her pajamas and refused a breath test. Police arrested her, but she later was offered a plea deal that reduced her DUI to reckless driving.

Dorsten said prosecutors would have had a hard time proving how much alcohol she had at the time she was pulled over.

In Garon’s case, because someone died in the accident, officers had a legal right to test his blood.

An officer stood watch over Garon after he bought the beer. An hour later they drew a blood sample. The test indicated Garon had a .25 blood alcohol level. An hour later officers drew another sample, which read .23. And an hour after that he tested at .21. All are about three times the legal limit.

Garon told officers he had just come from a car show and only had a small glass of red wine. Officers could tell Garon’s body had begun metabolizing the alcohol because each blood alcohol reading was lower than the last. This helped save the case.

Garon’s blood alcohol level wasn’t affected by the beer he drank. If it had, it would have spiked the sample on at least one test.

“What juror wouldn’t look at that person and say … ‘what the hell is that?’ ” said Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser, who prosecuted Garon. “You just killed someone and you’re going to start drinking?”

In court, Garon pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He was sentenced in June to 17 years in prison.

But if Garon had drunk more immediately after the crash, it could have spiked his blood alcohol level. Would that have made a difference?

“The biggest thing is (drinking after a crash) would have a hard time making a major impact unless there is a significant amount of time and a significant amount of alcohol,” said Newman.

Newman said if a person could drink enough, and then wait for the alcohol to kick in, a blood alcohol test would not be able to show their level of intoxication at the time of the crash. That’s what might have helped the St. Petersburg woman who drank an unknown amount of alcohol in her home.

Rosenwasser said he doesn’t think the tactic works.

“Depending on the blood alcohol level it wouldn’t change the way I prosecute,” he said. “And in fact, I would use it as consciousness of guilt. They’re trying to play a game by drinking it right after.”

One thing is clear from Garon’s case, and that’s that officers should not allow DUI suspects to slip into a convenience store to chug a beer after a fatal crash.

Geissenberger, the police sergeant, said in this case the severity of the crash and the size of the scene made it hard for the officer to give all his immediate attention to Garon. The officer was not disciplined, Geissenberger said, but they did discuss what went wrong.

“It was just about how we as an organization can do better,” he said.

 

When does a $5 toll cost $30? When you drive a rental car

Filed under: Controversy,Dumb,Interesting,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 3:36 pm

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With the rise of “cashless” turnpikes, where tolls are collected via a device such as EZ-Pass rather than at tollbooths, rental car companies have found two ways to pass those costs on to their customers, both unpopular: Customers can choose to rent a pass for as much as $20 a day, which they’ll pay whether or not they pass through a toll plaza, or they can pay the fines for going through the lanes without a pass, plus a hefty processing fee tacked on by the rental company.

Customers are ticked at what seems like yet another charge, like fees for checked baggage. After a Florida Dollar Rent a Car added $30 in administrative fees to a bill for $2.74 in tolls, Roxanna Usher of Redwood Valley, Calif., vented her spleen on the entire state. “I’m angry beyond belief and can’t even imagine coming back to your state,” she wrote in a Jan. 13 complaint to Florida’s attorney general. “Talk about a corrupt state! It’s disgusting what you’re doing to tourists—the mainstay of your economy.”

Florida’s attorney general has received nearly 100 similar complaints in the past 18 months from rental car customers regarding the toll violation fees. The office is investigating fee complaints from customers of Dollar Thrifty, Avis Budget Group(CAR), and Enterprise Holdings, according to spokesman Whitney Ray. The issue has also prompted consumer lawsuits by renters in Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Washington state.

Paula Rivera, a spokesman for Dollar’s parent, Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ), says customers have paid more than 57 million tolls since 2006 with the company’s PlatePass electronic payment device. The $15 fee for each toll violation “is assessed to cover the actual costs of handling the tolls for our customers,” she said in an e-mail.

Many consumers also fume about a daily dun from rental companies for electronic-payment devices—even when they don’t use a toll road. Others contend that pricing for the devices is often too expensive—$20.49 per day in New York City, for example—and motivate a renter to skip the gadget and face charges later. (The Northeast has the highest tolls in the U.S.)

Because of their huge fleets, rental car companies face an enormous liability related to toll-road violations and need some financial protections to address that exposure, says Charles Territo, a spokesman for American Traffic Solutions, a Tempe (Ariz.) company that handles collections for Hertz’s (HTZ) three major rental brands. “A consumer getting a violation is one thing, but a fleet with that same car getting multiple violations day after day, from multiple renters, it has the potential to be devastating,” Territo says. A rental chain could wind up owing a turnpike large sums, facing both the financial penalties and trouble registering their cars in that state.

The problem will only get worse. Across the nation, toll authorities are increasingly moving to electronic payment systems—where cash isn’t accepted—to eliminate staffing expenses. About 75 percent of U.S. toll-road agencies now have some cashless toll systems, most of them in states with the newest turnpikes, such as Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. (Only 15 states don’t have toll roads.) “Cash is effectively being phased out,” says Neil Gray, director of government affairs for the International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association. In 15 years, he says, all U.S. toll roads will likely be electronic.

The spread of electronic toll collection, in turn, has created a new industry of businesses that pursue toll scofflaws—along with a debate about what constitutes a reasonable profit for tracking down a toll payment that is often minimal. “Part of what happened is that this sort of technology was implemented and kind of caught everyone off guard,” says Jason Hoyh, an executive at Enterprise, the parent of Alamo, Enterprise, and National. “You have travelers asking, ‘What am I supposed to do?’”

 

Kids have imaginary friends — and meth-heads must have imaginary enemies

On 8-24-14 at approximately 0345 hrs. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a newspaper delivery person on Little Dothan Rd. in the northeast portion of Jackson County.

The caller reported three persons yelling for help from the second floor of a residence. The individuals stated that they had been shot at and held hostage for several hours. When the officers arrived the subjects initially refused to come outside because they feared the attackers might still be in the bottom floor of the house.

sfl-flduh-toilet-sink-imaginary-20140828-001

Once contact was made, the two men and one woman reported that they had been attacked by several persons but could not provide any descriptions. The female reported that she had been stabbed and the knife broken off in her abdomen. Further investigation revealed that she only had a superficial scratch to her abdomen. Furthermore, all of the injuries received by the individuals were self-inflicted while attempting to fight off the attackers.

The investigation revealed that there was never anyone at the home beside the three individuals and no one was attempting to cause them harm.

The remnants of a “Shake and Bake” meth lab was found in the residence along with several ingredients and items used to manufacture methamphetamines. Also discovered was a small amount of finished methamphetamine product along with straws and pipes used to ingest, inhale, or smoke illegal narcotics.

It appears in their altered mental state, the subjects were hallucinating and believed that they were being attacked. The three armed themselves with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22 rifle. Approximately 40 rounds of 12-gauge and an unknown number of .22 rounds were fired from inside the residence.

Numerous windows were shot out and holes were shot in the walls. They completely removed a large rear window from the house on the second floor and threw the bathroom sink at the imaginary attackers. Chunks of sheetrock, wood, firearm parts, and anything they could tear out of the residence was thrown outside including the toilet, which was ripped from the floor. In total, more than $10,000 damage was done to the residence.

All three of the subjects were lodged in the Jackson County Correctional Facility to await first appearance.

Matthew Tyler McDaniel, 30; Damian Joseph Hines, 21; and Madison Star Douglas, 18 were all charged with Possession of Methamphetamines, Attempt to Manufacture Methamphetamines, Felony Criminal Mischief and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

Guess road rage is evolving into a beat n’ treat event August 28, 2014

Filed under: Abuse,Bad Temper,Controversy,Dispute,Dumb,Fight,OK Then .....,Stupid,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:02 pm

A minor traffic accident erupted into a stabbing in South Tampa on Wednesday.

sfl-flduh-road-rage-stabbed-first-aid-20140827-001In an unusual twist, police say the man with the knife immediately began to perform first aid on the man with the wound, who survived.

Robert Suarez, 36, was a passenger in his girlfriend’s Audi going north on MacDill Avenue near Bay to Bay Boulevard, police said.

Traffic stopped suddenly and the Audi was rear-ended by a Toyota Avalon driven by Steven Baker, 22, police said. Both vehicles pulled into the parking lot of Bay Oaks apartments.

Baker and one of his two passengers, Torre Worthy, 23, began arguing with Suarez, police said.

Worthy began punching Suarez, who would later be treated for cuts to his head, wrist, legs and knees, police said.

Suarez hit the concrete and Baker joined in the fight, kicking Suarez in the head, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

That’s when Suarez stabbed Baker but immediately began to put pressure on the wound to stop it from bleeding, McElroy said.

“He felt he was outnumbered and he had to defend himself, but he felt terrible about injuring his attacker,” she said.

McElroy wasn’t sure of the location of Baker’s wound. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital. His condition was initially described as serious but later described as good.

The investigation was expected to continue, with no immediate announcement of charges.

 

Man charged with DUI — while riding lawn mower August 27, 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Bizzarre,Controversy,Drunk,DUI,Dumb,Funny,OK Then .....,Unusual,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:41 pm

A man is under arrest for allegedly driving a lawn tractor while intoxicated on a busy street.

sfl-flduh-dui-lawn-mower-20140826-00158-year-old Kenneth La Rue Smith was observed by a police officer traveling into oncoming traffic on US 41 southbound near Richmond St.

According to officials, after nearly avoiding a vehicle Smith proceeded to drink out of an aluminum can and place it into the lawnmower’s cupholder.

After being pulled over, officers discovered a package of beers between Smith’s legs.

Smith also had two knives, a cylinder for a .22 revolver, and several rounds of ammunition in his pockets.

The .22 revolver was found under the seat of the lawnmower.

Officials say Smith has been previously convicted of felonies and has received multiple DUI’s.

He is now charged with posession of a firearm as well as a DUI and received a citation of open container.

 

Pot muffin caper not exactly half-baked August 25, 2014

Filed under: Controversy,Drugs,Interesting,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:01 pm

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Port St. Lucie police know the muffin man,

The muffin man, the muffin man,

Port St. Lucie police know the muffin man,

Nia_Marie_HuddlestonWho actually is a marijuana muffin woman who lives not on Drury Lane but on Southeast Green Acres Circle in Port St. Lucie.

Port St. Lucie police on Aug. 8 arrested the accused marijuana muffin woman, 28-year-old Nia Huddleston, along with roommate Petair Meristil, 30, after finding a dozen marijuana muffins, a dozen uncooked pot muffins and some marijuana batter at their listed address in the 1600 block of Southeast Green Acres Circle, according to recently released affidavits.Who actually is a marijuana muffin woman who lives not on Drury Lane but on Southeast Green Acres Circle in Port St. Lucie.
The baked and unbaked marijuana muffins and the pot batter turned up in the kitchen.Police executed a search warrant at their home after getting a narcotics complaint. They turned up pot and pot smoking devices, and found a marijuana plant growing in a bedroom.

Petair_Meristil (1)“Nia confirmed that the muffins were cannabis muffins that she had just recently made and was going to cook,” an affidavit states.

Photos provided by police suggest they were full muffins, as opposed to muffin tops.

A marijuana muffin recipe was not included in the affidavits.

Muffins are not the only food that’s been mated with marijuana. Brownies with marijuana in the recipe have a storied history in pop culture, stretching at least to the 1950s with “The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book,” and its “Haschich Fudge” recipe.The term “muffin” features prominently in the traditional nursery rhyme, “The Muffin Man,” upon which the top of this story is based, as well as the song, “Muffin Man,” from the 1975 album “Bongo Fury,” featuring Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.

Meanwhile, Meristil said he was growing the pot plant in his closet, saying he smokes spliff for a “condition” he has.

Huddleston and Meristil each were arrested on drug-related charges.

 

 
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