Friday, April 23, 2010

Equal Justice Under the Law, Part 2

On Wednesday, April 21st, the jury returned a guilty verdict to one cout of Sexual Battery with Physical Force [with a special finding of penetration] in the case of State of Florida v. Josh Bailey (2008-CF-018462-A-O). See earlier blog here

The lowest permissable sentence Baily could receive, due to his 211.4 sentencing points, was 137.55 months in the Department of Corrections. The maximum sentence would have been LIFE. 

During the 25 minute sentencing hearing, Judge A Thomas Mihok heard the victim, Tori Tyrelle, thank him for a fair trial and related that because of what happened to her, Orange County is making changes in the way transgender inmates are treated at the jail. She told him that she believed that Orange County Corrections Department bore responsibility for what happened to her. She also said that she didn't feel that the 20-yr old defendant should be incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Mr. Bailey's attorney, Tim Hartung, spoke on behalf of his client and told the Court that the defendant regretted what happened and that he was embarrassed by his role in the incident (Mr. Bailey is heterosexual and has children). He was having a difficult time accepting the fact that he was found guilty of sexual battery and being designated a sexual predator. Mr. Hartung felt that the defendant was no less a victim than Ms. Tyrelle because the jail put Ms. Tyrelle in the cell with Mr. Bailey.

Ryan Vescio, the prosecutor, responded that no one is ever put into a situation where they have to sexually assault on another person. Because both parties were in a 12x8 cell, the victim was confined and unable to escape. The defendant, as Mr. Vescio pointed out, is only a victim of his own actions, having shown no regard Ms. Tyrelle, nor has he shown remorse for his behavior.

Judge Mihok took note of the fact that in 2007 the defendant was convicted of burglary, theft and subsequently violated his probation in that case. He also had a juvenile record that included battery and robbery. The judge sentenced Bailey to serve 25 years in prison, ordered no contact between the parties, and designated Bailey to be a sexual predator.

I also learned that the jail was quite uncooperative in the prosecution of this case. Witnesses failed to appear for depositions. The note that Ms. Tyrelle passed to a corrections officer, in which she asked for help, mysteriously "disappeared." It seems to CourtWatch that the jail needs to investigate its handling of this situation and hold their own people accountable.

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