Articles on this Page
- 01/18/14--17:31: _Prosecutor: Banker ...
- 01/19/14--12:22: _Teen killed in earl...
- 01/20/14--08:58: _PCPD investigating ...
- 01/21/14--10:55: _As family mourns sl...
- 01/21/14--11:06: _Halliburton manager...
- 01/21/14--16:16: _Police: Kidnapping ...
- 01/21/14--16:55: _Beach Police preppi...
- 01/21/14--17:40: _State House candida...
- 01/22/14--08:49: _7th charge filed ag...
- 01/22/14--12:34: _'Idol,' football sc...
- 01/22/14--17:17: _Man convicted of bu...
- 01/22/14--18:11: _Former airman sente...
- 01/23/14--12:29: _Deputy injured in t...
- 01/23/14--13:35: _BCSO: Suspected bur...
- 01/23/14--16:38: _Haney student charg...
- 01/24/14--16:44: _Man charged with se...
- 01/24/14--17:10: _Man inside closed s...
- 01/27/14--08:37: _Marianna man killed...
- 01/27/14--18:43: _BCSO looking for ve...
- 01/28/14--11:03: _More remains excava...
- 01/18/14--17:31: Prosecutor: Banker duped others before duping FDIC
- 01/19/14--12:22: Teen killed in early morning wreck
- 01/20/14--08:58: PCPD investigating early morning kidnapping
- 01/21/14--10:55: As family mourns slain mother of 5, tragedy traced
- 01/21/14--11:06: Halliburton manager gets probation in Gulf spill
- 01/21/14--16:16: Police: Kidnapping was hoax, woman arrested
- 01/21/14--16:55: Beach Police prepping for Spring Break
- 01/21/14--17:40: State House candidate charged with DUI
- 01/22/14--08:49: 7th charge filed against firefighter in rape cases
- 01/22/14--12:34: 'Idol,' football score week's Nielsen win for Fox
- 01/22/14--17:17: Man convicted of burglary
- 01/22/14--18:11: Former airman sentenced for child porn
- 01/23/14--12:29: Deputy injured in traffic accident
- 01/23/14--13:35: BCSO: Suspected burglar commits suicide
- 01/23/14--16:38: Haney student charged with marijuana possession
- 01/24/14--16:44: Man charged with sex crime on child
- 01/24/14--17:10: Man inside closed store arrested
- 01/27/14--08:37: Marianna man killed in single-vehicle crash
- 01/27/14--18:43: BCSO looking for vending machine suspects
- 01/28/14--11:03: More remains excavated at Fla. reform school yard
PANAMA CITY — Prosecutors say they have obtained evidence that one of three bankers charged with bilking the government out of millions of taxpayer dollars had done the same thing to a local investor.
Terry Dubose knew federal regulators were about to clamp down on Coastal Community Investments, a holding company for Panama City Beach-based Coastal Community Bank and Port St. Joe-based Bayside Savings Bank, when he sought out investors to buy shares in the bank so he could avoid personal losses, according to a filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle Littleton.
Dubose, Elwood West and Frank Baker have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of lying to the FDIC and aiding and abetting a false claim against the United States. Dubose and Elwood were executives with Coastal, and Baker was the company’s attorney and largest shareholder.
They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in federal court next month. Dubose has said he will not comment on the case.
Because they have pleaded not guilty, Littleton will have to prove the men purposely defrauded the FDIC’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, which was created to help banks borrow money from each other at the onset of the Great Recession.
Littleton wants to convince jurors Dubose lied to the investors in order to prove motive, intent and lack of mistake, even though he has not been charged with a crime in connection to the alleged scheme. Dubose’s attorneys had not filed an objection as of Friday.
The FDIC was about to issue a cease-and-desist order against Coastal, and Dubose knew that would render shares in the bank unmarketable when he approached Charlotte Newby and John McVeigh in late 2008 and tried to convince them to buy stock in the bank, according to court records.
Newby and McVeigh, who could not be reached for comment, declined the offer, but when Dubose returned in early 2009, he sweetened the deal: The bank would lend them the money to buy the stock, which Dubose told them belonged to a “retired old lady” who wanted her money in more conservative investments, the court records state.
They borrowed $140,000 for the stock, and even though Dubose had been telling people it’s illegal for a bank to finance the purchase of its own stock, he signed the loan memorandum that concealed the purpose of the loan. The stock Newby and McVeigh bought actually belonged to Dubose’s daughter, who had purchased the shares with money Dubose had loaned her; she used the proceeds from the sale to repay Dubose, according to the court records.
Three weeks after Dubose was made whole, the FDIC issued a cease-and-desist order. When the bank failed in 2010, the shares Newby and McVeigh bought were worthless.
MARIANNA - A 16-year-old was killed early Saturday morning when his vehicle ran off State 71 south of Marianna in Jackson County.
Nolan Bailey Musgrove was driving south on State 71 at or near the posted speed limit when his 1999 Chevy Silverado drifted to the left, crossed the northbound lane and drove onto the east shoulder of State 71, Florida Highway Patrol officials wrote in a news release.
The left side of the vehicle collided with a wooden utility pole, causing the vehicle to rotate clockwise, the news release states. The vehicle overturned and came to final rest facing south on the east shoulder of State Road 71. Musgrove was pronounced dead as a result of injuries sustained in this crash. His passenger, Emily Sewell, 16, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Jackson Hospital for treatment.
Neither was wearing a seatbelt, the news release states.
A woman was abducted Monday morning but managed to get help thanks her cell phone, police said.
An employee at the Waffle House on 1901 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard told police that when she left work and got in her car she was confronted by a man who was already inside.
The man told her to drive south on U.S. 231 and then to park in the Mariner Plaza shopping center, police wrote in a news release. The man left her bound in the rear of her vehicle and left.
When he left, she was able to retrieve a cell phone and contact co-workers, police said. A co-worker located her and called the police department.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked contact Detective Stephen Johnson at 850-872-3112. Anonymous tips can be reported via CrimeStoppers at 850-785-TIPS.
Shirley Maples wrote a poem in 1993 for a couple whose daughter had died tragically. Over the years, as more of her friends' children died, she adapted the poem for each child, making it specific for the family.
But she never thought she would have to adapt the poem for herself.
On Friday, Maples read her poem at her daughter Casey Renee Wilsey's funeral, only four days after police say Casey, 37, was fatally stabbed in her car at a parking garage of North Florida Regional Medical Center by her estranged husband, Walker Gage Wilsey Sr., 46.
Maples trembled as she read her five-stanza poem to a group of about 70 at the Knauff Funeral Home in Williston.
“Casey was so active and so full of life, but to give her up now cuts deep like a knife,” she read, the paper shaking. “We must go on with our memories intact. The child that God gave us, we must now give back.”
According to Gainesville police, Walker Wilsey waited for Casey Wilsey to arrive at work before 9 a.m. on Monday, then stabbed her in the torso as she sat in a vehicle on the third floor of the parking garage.
Casey, a mother of five who lived in Bronson, was a medical assistant who worked at Gainesville Pediatric Associates, which is located in the hospital complex.
Walker Wilsey fled the area and was found dead Monday afternoon in a Daytona Beach home. His throat and wrists had been slit, and two knives were found in the room in what Daytona Beach police said was a suicide.
Daytona Beach police spokesman Jimmie Flynt said the home at 126 Dundee Road belonged to Paul Salvatore, an acquaintance with whom Walker Wilsey was staying in recent days.
April Stair, a neighbor of the man Walker Wilsey was staying with, said Walker arrived at the home in Daytona Beach two days before police say Walker killed his estranged wife and committed suicide. Salvatore told his neighbor that Walker had appeared depressed and talked about his coming divorce, Stair said.
On the day of Casey's death, Salvatore told Stair that Walker Wilsey had left the home before he woke up at 6 a.m., but had not told Salvatore he was leaving. Walker came back to the Daytona Beach home at 1:30 p.m. while Salvatore and another friend were working on a truck.
The owner of the home Salvatore rents also had shown up that day and when she saw Walker, she asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. Walker declined and told his friend he was going to take a shower.
A while later, Salvatore went into his home to get more supplies for the truck, found Walker dead and quickly called 9-1-1, Stair said.
“Paul was very upset,” Stair said. “He and Walker had gone to high school together, but he hadn't seen him since then and he didn't know Walker that well. He saw the blood everywhere and couldn't even go in his room.”
At Casey's funeral on Friday, no one mentioned Walker Wilsey. The Rev. Johnie Lee talked about Casey's new boyfriend, Brian Coddington, who is Lee's best friend. Coddington and Casey were kindred spirits, he said.
“I've known Brian for eight years,” Lee said. “But I've seen him have more good days than bad days in the last two months he was with Casey. I have to believe that's because of Casey.”
Dr. Mary Grooms, a doctor at Pediatrics Associates, said that Monday was the worst day for everyone at the office where Casey worked. Grooms said Casey would always tell stories of her children and of how proud she was of her five children: Devin, 20; Miranda, 17; Heaven, 8; Angel, 6; and Gage, 5.
“We saw the best of her every day at work,” Grooms said. “Always showed up with a smile. It's so strange to be in the office without her.”
In the front row, Casey's family shook with tears as they said goodbye. Her children were only told that both their parents had gone to heaven, not how they had gotten there. Shirley Maples' last tearful plea to the group was for remembrance.
“Please never forget what a wonderful girl my daughter was,” Maples said.
For Jason Nelson, Casey Wilsey was not just his sister. She was also the 39-year-old's best friend and fishing buddy.
“We were inseparable as children,” he said. “There was never anything I wouldn't do without her. Even when she went to her friend's house for a total girl thing, I was still there.”
The two grew up together with their mother in Orlando. Nelson, who Casey called “Bubba,” would get his sister ready for school. Together they took care of each other when their mother worked long hours, he said. Together they also helped raise Casey's first child when she had a baby at 17, he said.
Nelson and his sister would take their children together to fish and camp in the outdoors. Her favorite kind of fish to catch was “one that swims,” Nelson said with a laugh.
“At first she didn't want to kill fish, but once she caught her first one, she was ready to go fishing at any given moment with her pink fishing pole,” he said.
Nelson said his sister and Walker Wilsey married after about six to eight months of knowing each other. At one point, Nelson worked with his sister's husband after Walker launched his first construction business, American Southern Steel. By the time Walker opened his second business, Confederate Inc., Nelson rarely spoke to his sister's husband, he said.
When Nelson finally learned of Walker's past, he angrily called his sister to ask why she didn't tell him that her husband was a registered sex offender, Nelson said. “She told me, 'Bubba, I know you and it's not something I wanted to tell you,' ” he said. “I think she knew what my reaction would have been.”
On Monday, when Nelson heard the news of his sister's death, he drove to the woods and had a conversation with himself to calm himself, he said. In his mind, there was no doubt who had killed his sister, he said.
“I had different hopes and dreams for her,” Nelson said. “I was banking on a shining knight in armor for my sister because she deserved one. She was the most beautiful person inside and out.”
Public records and arrest records spanning three states showed that Walker Wilsey was a registered sex offender with a criminal history that includes charges of child rape and domestic violence.
Walker Wilsey was convicted of two counts of child rape in 1988 in Athol, Mass., near his hometown of Amherst when he was 21. Back then, he was known as Gunny Dash Wilsey.
He was arrested in 2000 on charges of misconduct involving weapons in Tucson, Ariz., and later arrested again in 2001 for charges of drug solicitation violation and drug paraphernalia violation, for which he spent time in Arizona State Prison and was released in 2002, according to Arizona Department of Corrections public records.
After he was released, Walker moved to Florida in 2003 and changed his name in Alachua County to Walker Gage Wilsey. In January 2003, a woman filed for a domestic injunction against him in Levy County, and a month later, he was charged with false imprisonment in Alachua County, but the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.
Seven months later, he married Casey Nelson in October 2003 in Alachua County, according to public records.
In 2012, Walker's father, Daniel Wilsey of Ocala, filed for a domestic violence injunction against him in May, according to Marion County public records. Two days later, Walker petitioned for an injunction against his father, records show.
In November 2013, Casey filed for a domestic violence injunction against her husband in Levy County. On Dec. 11, Casey filed for a divorce from Walker and a little over a month later, police found her body in her car in a North Florida Regional Medical Center parking garage.
Debbie Ingling, Walker Wilsey's step-aunt, said her nephew presented himself on excursions as a controlling and abusive husband and father. Although he was never physically abusive in front of her, Ingling said Walker Wilsey was verbally abusive to his wife.
“She feared him,” she said. “She endured a lot of abuse from him, and did all she could to keep him pacified.”
Several family members, including Nelson, Maples and Ingling, said that after Casey filed for the injunction, Walker took the three youngest kids from her to an unknown location for a short time. Levy County Sheriff's Office public information officer Lt. Scott Tummond said that, although the agency knew Walker had taken the children, he had not kidnapped them because the couple were still married, and Walker legally still had equal guardianship. The agency therefore could not arrest Walker or search for the children, Tummond said.
One of Casey's cousins, who did not wish to be named, said that finding out about Walker's past was surprising for the whole family. Casey's family originally thought the child rape allegations were from when Walker was 17 and the alleged victim was 16.
“I think Casey knew he had a little bit of a past, but I don't think she ever knew who she married,” the cousin said.
Although Casey's cousin hadn't seen her in a couple of years, she knew the mother of five was working hard and being the breadwinner in the family. She said she believes if her family had known more about Walker's criminal past that they could have prevented Casey's death.
“This can happen to anyone,” the cousin said. “Casey was a fantastic person, and she was murdered outside of her job. If you're in this kind of relationship, you need to open your eyes. This can happen to you, too.”
How to help
NEW ORLEANS — A former Halliburton manager apologized to his family and friends Tuesday before a federal judge sentenced him to one year of probation for destroying evidence in the aftermath of BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Anthony Badalamenti, of Katy, Texas, had faced a maximum of one year in prison at his sentencing by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey. Badalamenti pleaded guilty in October to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence.
The 62-year-old also has to perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.
Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., BP's cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out Macondo well.
The judge said that the sentence of probation is "very reasonable in this case."
"I still feel that you're a very honorable man," he told Badalamenti. "I have no doubt that you've learned from this mistake."
Badalamenti expressed remorse for causing "undue stress" on his relatives and friends.
"I am truly sorry for what I did," he said.
Tai Park, one of Badalamenti's lawyers, said his client had believed that the deleted data could be recreated and could be discarded.
"It did not involve any criminal intent. It did not involve any loss, but it did involve a misjudgment," Park told Zainey.
Halliburton cut its own deal with the Justice Department and pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanor charge related to Badalamenti's conduct. The company agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but the latter payment wasn't a condition of the deal.
Sentencing guidelines had called for Badalamenti to receive a sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison. Zainey, however, wasn't bound by those guidelines.
Four current or former BP employees also have been charged in federal court with spill-related crimes.
On Dec. 18, a jury convicted former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix of trying to obstruct a federal probe of the spill. Prosecutors said Mix was trying to destroy evidence when he deleted a string of text messages to and from a BP supervisor.
Mix faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is set for March 26.
BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon. Prosecutors claim Kaluza and Vidrine botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the April 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well triggered a deadly explosion.
Former BP executive David Rainey was charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was gushing from BP's well before the company sealed it.
Prosecutors said Badalamenti instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data from separate runs of computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. The data could have supported BP's decision to use six centralizers instead of 21 on the Macondo project, but prosecutors said the number of centralizers had little effect on the outcome of the simulations.
Halliburton notified the Justice Department about the deletion of the data, which couldn't be recovered.
Park said "criminal intent" isn't an element of the misdemeanor charge to which his client pleaded guilty.
"He really is a man who has shown a lifetime of integrity," Park said.
PANAMA CITY -- A woman who told police a man kidnapped her and forced her to drive him several hundred feet before he tied her up and left her in the car has been charged with lying to police after she admitted to making up the story to get attention, according to the Panama City Police Department.
Cassandra Henderson, 18, is charged with false report of commission of crimes. She was arrested a day after she told police a man was in the back seat of her car when she got inside after she finished work early Monday.
The man, she said, forced her to drive from the Waffle House at U.S. 231 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the Mariner Plaza shopping mall roughly a block away, where he tied her up and put her in the backseat.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Patrolling Panama City Beach during Spring Break is something the city police department cannot do alone.
The Panama City Beach Council will consider a resolution Thursday to boost law enforcement presence within the city limits on the busiest weeks of Spring Break.
The $105,000 proposal from Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman would bring in 24 Florida Highway Patrol troopers and 23 agents from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco starting the second week in March, and local mutual aid from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Police Department on Thursdays through Sundays for the duration of college Spring Break.
The cost of the proposal is included in the police department budget and mirrors the mutual aid funding the council approved for Spring Break last year.
While PCBPD’s mutual aid funding will remain the same, PCBPD likely will receive more money from the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) this year to support Spring Break security efforts. The TDC provided $50,000 for both PCBPD and BCSO to supplement enforcement last year, and they will consider increasing the dollar amount to $100,000 for each agency this year.
Whitman said if the increase is approved by the TDC, he plans to use the money to beef up officer presence on the beach and at Spring Break special events. Whitman used the $50,000 provided by the TDC last year to coordinate an ATV sand patrol of officers he said served as “ambassadors” and helped educate spring breakers on city ordinances and state laws.
“We asked for an increase to help out with the sand patrol and increase some of the walking details on events,” Whitman said.
Based on the Spring Break schedule for colleges in the U.S. and Canada, the largest Spring Break crowds are expected to arrive the second week in March and remain steady through April. PCBPD officers will move to extended 12-hour shifts March 7 and continue through about the second week in April.
Whitman said the department’s main goal for Spring Break is to send the students safely home to their families.
“Our main goal for everyone who comes down to visit is that they go home safely,” Whitman said. “We want them to come down and have fun, but we want them to go home safe, too.”
PANAMA CITY — A state House candidate was arrested and charged with driving under the influence last month but says he plans to stay in the race, despite the “great embarrassment.”
Tho Bishop, 24, was pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol at 11:32 p.m. on Dec. 27 while driving on Laurie Avenue and booked into the Bay County Jail, according to law enforcement records. He received a DUI uniform traffic citation and refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, which results in a one-year automatic loss of license.
The Panama City Beach Republican is running for state House District 6 this year, which includes most of Bay County. The district is represented currently by the term-limited state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City.
Bishop said Tuesday he would not speak about the case and had a lawyer handling it for him. He said he was “contesting the charges.”
Despite a possible trial and sentence looming over his head, Bishop said he was staying in the race because he saw no other strong candidates who could represent the county and make a difference.
“If I thought that there was someone in this race who could do the job that I think Florida needs, that I think Bay County needs, I’d be glad to step out, but I don’t,” he said, “so I’m going to fight on.”
Bishop said he can’t change what happened, but he would if he could. He said the arrest doesn’t alter who he is or why he’s running.
“It’s a very difficult personal thing. It’s a great embarrassment,” he said.
Bishop, who touts libertarian economists Frédéric Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises as his influences, said he took the “constitutional” approach by refusing to cooperate with law enforcement after he was arrested. He said U.S. citizens have the right to have a lawyer present to advise them and not say anything self-incriminating.
Bishop has not been a fundraising force since he entered the race in July, taking in just $2,750 in donations so far. He came back to the county to enter the race after working in Washington, D.C., as a U.S. House Finance Committee staffer. He said he never gave up his Bay County residency.
Once the case wraps up, Bishop said he could talk about it, but for now, he’ll stay in.
“I’ll continue on with the race,” he said.
Deltona firefighter Terry Freeman II, who has been accused of sex crimes by 12 women, incurred another charge Tuesday, a Volusia County sheriff’s spokesman said.
Freeman is charged with sexual battery in connection to an attack on a 25-year-old DeLand woman he met through a dating website, spokesman Gary Davidson said. It is the sixth rape charge against Freeman. He is also charged in an attempted rape incident.
The incident occurred in October 2012 after Freeman and the woman, who had chatted through the site for a couple days, met at a restaurant near DeLand.
The two went back to the Deltona home where Freeman had been staying and began kissing, but the woman told Freeman to stop trying to take things further and he did, Davidson said.
After a second date a couple weeks later, the two again went back to Freeman’s place and were in his bedroom, but this time Davidson said Freeman didn’t listen to the woman when she said she didn’t want to take things further.
The woman told investigators that Freeman overpowered her and sexually assaulted her, but she didn’t report the attack when it happened because she thought no one would believe her, Davidson said. The woman, who thought she was the only victim, came forward after news of the other attacks.
Freeman — facing charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or force, three counts of sexual battery using force, sexual battery with no physical force, false imprisonment and attempted sexual battery — is held without bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail, records show.
A total of 12 victims have been identified, and investigators believe there could still be others, Davidson said.
Freeman, a Deltona firefighter for two years, is on administrative leave from the department and is collecting vacation pay, officials have said.
Anyone who believes they were a victim or has information about Freeman is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 386-860-7030.
NEW YORK — Last week, it was Fox's turn to shine.
Rebounding from a fourth-place finish the previous week, Fox rode football and "American Idol" to the top of the prime-time ratings, according to Nielsen.
Fox's coverage of the NFC championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers drew a hefty 56 million viewers to take the top slot for the week, followed by the game's overtime show, which attracted more than 30 million viewers.
The Wednesday season premiere of "American Idol," seen by 15 million viewers, placed fifth for the week, followed right behind by the Thursday "Idol" edition, with more than 13 million viewers.
Fox's slasher drama "The Following" made a strong second-season return in 10th place, with 11 million viewers tuning in.
CBS claimed the other five slots in the Top 10 roster.
Overall for the week, Fox won with an average of 17.2 million viewers. Runner-up CBS had 8.4 million, followed by ABC with 5.2 million and NBC with 4.6 million. Univision had 2.7 million, the CW had 1.6 viewers, Telemundo had 1.4 million and ION Television had 1.2 million.
The week's top-rated cable networks were Disney with 2.24 million viewers, USA with 2.18 million and History with 1.98 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.4 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 8.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.5 million viewers.
For the week of Jan. 13-19, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFC Championship: San Francisco at Seattle, Fox, 55.91 million; NFC Championship: "The OT," Fox, 30.34 million; "NCIS," CBS, 19.72 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.87 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 15.19 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 13.36 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 12.62 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 12.54 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 20.03 million; "The Following," Fox, 11.18 million.
MEXICO BEACH -- A Panama City man was found guilty Wednesday of breaking into a Mexico Beach hotel room and battering two of the occupants, according to the State Attorney’s Office.
Convicted was Ronald Deon Lee, 34, of 6620 Enzor St.
Assistant State Attorney Rob Sale told jurors in his opening statement that Lee made his way into a hotel room occupied by a man and woman and their 11-year-old son, who were from Alabama, in the early morning hours of April 15, 2011. The woman awoke to find Lee, naked, on top of her, a State Attorney’s Office press release said. Her scream awoke the man sleeping in the same bed, who fought Lee and detained him until police arrived, despite being bitten twice and having four of his toes broken.
Salesaid the evidence showed Lee had entered the room twice that morning. The first time he took the couple’s cellphones and keys back to his adjoining room. Lee then returned and attempted the rape the woman, despite the fact that she was sleeping in the same bed as the man. The child was in the other bed. Lee probably entered the victims’ room the first time by climbing across the balconies, the press release said.
Lee was found guilty as charged of burglary of an occupied dwelling with a battery. He faces up to life in prison when Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet sentences him Feb. 4.
PANAMA CITY — A former airman stationed locally was sentenced Wednesday to more than eight years in prison for three counts of child exploitation stemming from possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Daniel Freiwald was arrested in July after he was indicted on three counts of possessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty in September to two counts, one of which carried a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison.
According to court records:
Undercover investigators signed into the peer-to-peer file sharing network BitTorrent and identified an IP address that hosted child pornography files between Dec. 7, 2012 and Jan 23, 2013 on it in Bay County. The investigators traced the IP address to a computer at Freiwald’s address on Tyndall Air Force Base, and executed a search warrant.
Freiwald told investigators he knew it was illegal to download the files, but he did it because he had a problem and couldn’t stop. He said he typically downloaded the files, looked at them and then deleted them. He didn’t know he was sharing the files because he didn’t understand how BitTorrent works.
Judge Richard Smoak’s sentence was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines for a case like this. Freiwald’s public defender, Michelle Spaven, argued federal sentencing guidelines in child porn cases are so excessively harsh that 60 percent of defendants in similar cases received below-guideline sentences.
Spaven wrote in a memo that the married 30-year-old father of two, who was twice deployed to Iraq, likely turned to alcohol and porn to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2010. She cited statistics that M. Casey Rodgers, the chief judge of the U.S. Northern District of Florida, presented to the United States Sentencing Commission in testimony last year.
There are federal directives that increase the sentencing-guideline range higher when the child in the images is younger than 12, when the conduct involves more than 600 images, when the defendant uses a computer to access the images, and when the image depicts sadistic, masochistic or violent conduct. Those enhancements apply in the vast majority of local cases even if the harm of the crime is extraordinary, Rodgers told the commission.
“…That ferries the ordinary offender to the high end of the statutory sentencing range,” Rodgers said, adding that judges in this district are “increasingly imposing below-guideline sentences based on a concern over the integrity and reliability” of federal sentencing guidelines.
Spaven asked for the minimum mandatory sentence of five years, arguing that Freiwald had already lost his military career and was not likely to reoffend after his release. Smoak stayed within the guidelines, however, and sentenced Freiwald to five years of supervised release following his prison term.
A Bay County Sheriff’s deputy and an Indiana woman are in the hospital after a wreck Thursday.
Bay County Sheriff’s Office Field Services deputy Cpl. Daren Priest, 43, Panama City, was transported to a local hospital Thursday morning with serious injuries after his vehicle was struck by another car while he was on duty, officials wrote in a news release.
At about 10 a.m., Priest’s patrol car was located on the side of the road, near the intersection of Tammy Pitts Road and U.S. 231 in Fountain. It was struck in the rear by another vehicle, causing Priest’s patrol car to move approximately 40 yards from the site of the impact, the news release states. According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, the driver of the other vehicle was Sylvia Dart, 70, Fremont, Ind. She told state troopers she fell asleep while driving, FHP said. She was charged with failing to stay in her lane, the report said.
Priest has what appear to be neck and back injuries, officials added.
Bay County Sheriff's deputies were closing in on a suspected burglar Thursday when he took his own life, officials wrote in a news release.
The incident began with a call from Knollwood Street in Bayou George about 1:40 p.m. Deputies took a report from a couple who lived in the area who saw a man on their property fleeing while carrying a gun. Once the suspect was in the woods, the couple heard a gunshot and called 911.
Deputies used a K9 to track the suspect and through a description were able to determine that he lived on Knollwood, officials wrote in the news release. When deputies went to the home to speak with the suspect, the suspect’s brother was in the front yard and refused a request by deputies to search the residence, officials wrote.
A gunshot was then heard within the home.
Deputies found Trevor Byrd with a gunshot wound to the head and began CPR, the news release states. Byrd was taken by EMS to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, officials wrote.
A firearm found next to Byrd’s body was identified as stolen from the site of the original burglary, BCSO said.
LYNN HAVEN -- A 16-year-old Tom P. Haney Technical Center student was arrested Thursday on a charge of felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, according to the Lynn Haven Police Department.
Administrators at Haney summoned police to the school after smelling marijuana in the youth’s backpack while he was in class. An administrative search was conducted by school personnel and they discovered over 35 packages of marijuana packaged for sale with a total weight of over 40 grams.
Police did not release the name of the juvenile, who was delivered to the Bay County Juvenile Detention Facility.
According to Haney administrators, Thursday was the student’s second day of attending the school.
PANAMA CITY — Springfield police have arrested a man suspected of raping a child for the second time since 2010.
Larry Jacob Stanfill was arrested Thursday after a father brought his 7-year-old girl to the hospital when she complained a man had reached in her underwear at her babysitter’s house.
The child went to the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center for a medical examination and an interview. She said a man named “Larry” touched her twice while she sat on his lap, and she said he concealed what he was doing when her father arrived and resumed when he left the room.
Stanfill is charged with sexual battery on a child under 12, a capitol crime that carries the possibility of a life sentence if he’s convicted.
It’s not Stanfill’s first arrest. In October, 2010, he was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation for a similar crime against a different child. But after spending more than a year in jail awaiting trial, he was released and sentenced to five years of probation when he pleaded no contest to felony battery.
“There was a lot of frustration because the prosecutor was kind of hamstrung,” said Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson, he said. Wilson didn’t remember what difficulties the prosecutor faced, but he said under the circumstances they felt the plea deal was “the best we could get.”
Sex crimes with child victims are notoriously difficult to prosecute, officials with the Department and Families and the Gulf Coast Children’s’ Advocacy Center said Friday. Statewide, less than 2 percent of perpetrators of sex crimes against children are convicted, said Lori Allen, who said she remembered Stanfill’s first case.
The plea deal in 2010 required Stanfill to undergo sex offender therapy, but he was not legally designated a sex offender, Wilson said.
LYNN HAVEN -- A burglary suspect was arrested early Friday inside a grocery store, according to Lynn Haven Police.
Arrested was Stephen Malcolm Owens-Lewis, 21,
Police responded to both calls within hours of each other and apprehended Owens-Lewis still inside the Save-A-Lot at about 4:30 a.m. Both crimes were similar in nature and evidence found on Owens-Lewis’ connected him to the earlier attempted burglary at
After his arrest, Owens-Lewis was found to be in possession of a quantity of pills that were subsequently identified as the controlled substances Clonazepam and Adderall, police said.
The investigation is continuing and anyone with information regarding similar crimes is asked to call the Lynn Haven Police Department at 850-265-4111 or the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at (850) 785-TIPS.
A 53-year-old Marianna man was killed Sunday in a single-vehicle crash in Jackson County.
The wreck happened at about 5:50 p.m. on Magnolia Lane near State 71, according to a news release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Freddie Lewis Lee was traveling east on Magnolia Road when the vehicle entered a curved portion of the roadway and then left the roadway by traveling onto the south shoulder, the news release states.
The vehicle then continued in a south direction while entering into a counter clockwise rotation and struck a power pole causing the pole to snap approximately 7-8 feet above ground level, officials wrote.
The vehicle continued past the point of collision with the power pole ejecting the driver and both vehicle and driver came to final rest on the south side of the roadway south of the shoulder. The driver was found at rest next to the right side of the vehicle and on the ground.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident is under investigation.
PANAMA CITY — Two men have been compromising vending machines, and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office wants your help to find them.
The men have been on a vending machine compromising spree, with numerous machines victimized over the past two weeks, the sheriff’s office said. The men apparently target machines in department stores and medical facilities. They were captured on surveillance video footage released Monday.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about the two men to call the sheriff’s office at 850-747-4700 or CrimeStoppers at 850-785-TTIPS (8477).
TAMPA — The remains of 55 people have been unearthed from a graveyard at a former reform school with a history of abuse, researchers said Tuesday.
University of South Florida researchers began excavating the graveyard at the now-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in September. The dig finished in December.
Official records indicated 31 burials at the Marianna site, but researchers had estimated there would be about 50 graves.
All the bodies found were interred in coffins either made at the school or bought from manufacturers, said Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist leading the university’s investigation. Some were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.
Now, researchers will try to identify the remains and determine the causes of death. The bodies were buried sometime between the late 1920s and early 1950s, researchers said.
“We know very little about those who are buried,” Kimmerle said.
They found buttons, a stone marble in a boy’s pocket and hardware from coffins. Researchers recovered thousands of nails and a brass plate that read, “At rest,” likely from a coffin lid.
DNA from the remains will be sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for analysis. Twelve families have contacted researchers in the hopes of identifying relatives that might have been buried at the school, and officials hope dozens of other families will come forward and provide DNA samples to compare with the remains.
Ovell Krell of Auburndale is one of the relatives who already has come forward, hoping to find out what happened to her brother. George Owen Smith was sent to Dozier when he was 14 in 1941, and he was found dead a couple of months later. His family never recovered his body, and Krell hopes to claim his remains and bury them with their parents at a family plot in central Florida.
“We are hoping for closure,” she said.
Another dig is scheduled next month. Nearby residents and former employees and inmates at the northwest Florida school are helping investigators determine other potential burial sites, Kimmerle said.
Dozier opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 for budgetary reasons.
Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that that it could not substantiate or dispute the claims.
The University of South Florida secured a permit to exhume the remains after beginning its own research and verifying more deaths and graves than documented by law enforcement.