Monday, December 17, 2012


As you may know, the herniated disc I suffered last fall has taken its toll on my ability to participate in courtwatching, as well as other CourtWatch-related activities.  At June's board meeting we decided that we would try to find funding that would enable us to hire an executive director who would take on the day-to-day responsibilities of administering the program as well as raising money to pay his/her salary.

If you've ever searched for grants, you know that everyone who is giving away money wants to see a return for their money (rightfully so!). Given the nature of our mission, and the fact that we don't serve clients the same way that other nonprofits do, it has been difficult to find grant funding.  We don't have the "deliverables" that funders are looking for.  Yet I've been told by many that our presence in the courtroom makes a difference and that what we do is valuable. Unfortunately, it's hard to quantify and therefore it's hard to fund.

We, regrettably, have not had success with finding the funding. It is with much sadness that the Board voted at our December meeting to dissolve CourtWatch. 

I will continue to be involved with a new organization, Abuse Intervention Monitoring (AIM) that is currently awaiting its 501(c)(3) approval. AIM's mission is to monitor the Batterers' Intervention Programs (BIPs) to make sure they comply with the regulations set forth by the State of Florida.  Effective 7/1/12, BIPs have no government oversight due to funding issues. The Orange County DV Task Force recognized that this would allow untrained and uncertified individuals to offer BIP counseling without proper oversight.

As a result of AIM's presence, both the Ninth (Orange-Osceola) and Eighteenth (Seminole-Brevard) Circuit Chief Judges have issued Administrative Orders allowing only BIP providers that were certified as of 6/30/12 to operate in their jurisdictions. Much work is ahead of us, but this is a crucial step in assuring the Courts and victims that batterers are properly counseled once they've been ordered to complete the program.

As supporters of CourtWatch's mission, I want to thank you for the interest and support you've shown over the past five years.  The thousands of volunteer hours, the financial resources, and the words of encouragement have been crucial to helping us in our efforts to hold the justice system accountable.  Words are inadequate to express how truly grateful I am for your help.

This blog will remain online to serve as a light for others who seek to create a courtwatch program.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Justice will only be achieved when those who have not been injured by crime feel as indignant as those who have.
King Solomon

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Whatever happened to . . . ? #41

Here are some Seminole County cases that were resolved within the past few months:

Kent, Jerel
2010 CF 003649A
Kidnapping; Att Sexual Battery
Defendant was apprehended by several patrons at Shakers Loungs in Casselberry after he allegedly attempted to rape a woman
Defendant was found guilty by a jury; 40 years DOC

Myers, Scott
2010 CF 003262A
2nd Deg Murder; Grand Theft Motor Vehicle
Defendant allegedly murdered his girlfriend of 2 months in her home after she attempted to end the relationship
Defendant pled no contest and was sentenced to 35 years DOC + 15 years probation.

Boone, Kimberly
2009 CF 002127A
Att 1st Degree Murder (2cts); Arson
Defendant allegedly set her home on fire in an attempt to kill her husband who had threatened to leave her if she embezzled from her employer.
Defendant was convicted by a jury of attempted 2nd degree murder and arson.  She was sentenced to a total of 35 years DOC, 10 years probation, and ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Thomas, Jeff
2009 CF 003965A
1st Degree murder w/firearm
Defendant was a corrections officer who was seen allegedly shooting his girlfriend, another corrections officer, on SR46 in Geneva; Defendant was shot by a deputy
Defendant pled to 2nd Degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years DOC.

Woller, Joseph
2011 CF 001144A
Sexual Battery Vic>12 (3cts); Travel to Meet Minor for Sex; Use Computer to Solicit/Lure Minor; Infect Person w/HIV w/o Informed Consent
Defendant allegedly met a 13 yr old boy on craigslist and assaulted him at Secret Lake Park in Casselberry
Defendant pled no contest and was sentenced to 10 years DOC.

Wilson, Earl
2010 CF 003123A
Arson of Dwelling (2cts); Att 2nd Deg Murder (4cts)
Defendant allegedly set fire to his girlfriend’s home, which burned to the ground, after threatening her & another man with a machete when he discovered another man there.
Defendant pled to arson and the attempted murder charges were dropped.  He was sentenced to 3 yrs DOC; 10 yrs prob; ordered to write an apology letter; consume no drugs; have no contact with the victims and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

Glenn, Quinten
2011 CF 001216A
Cruelty Toward Child; Agg Battery on Child
Defendant allegedly beat his girlfriend's 2-yr old son, causing a laceration on his liver, fractured arm, broken rib & multiple abrasions
Defendant pled no contest to aggravated child abuse and was sentenced to 3 years DOC, 10 years probation, anger management class, mental health evaluation, no contact with victims and have no unsupervised contact with children.  This was a downward departure sentence.

Dauphinais, Marc
2010 MM 009121A
Defendant (a Lake Mary HS teacher) allegedly grabbed a 17-yr old female student's buttocks in his classroom
Defendant pled no contest and was sentenced to 12 months probation, complete a victim awareness class, have no contact with the victim; relinquish teaching certificate; refrain from entering any educational facility; have no unsupv contact w/ children<18 yrs old; and to submit DNA.

Fahr, Gene
2011 CF 004148A
Agg Battery Person 65+ old (DV); Att Murder DV; Shoot Missile Into Dwelling; Tamper/Intimidate/Threaten Victim; Use Firearm Under Influence of Alcohol
Defendant, age 51, allegedly sprayed pepper spray into his ailing mother's room, took her phone, and shot the
Defendant pled no contest to Shooting into Bldg/Vehicle & Using Firearm under the influence.  He was sentenced to 3 years probation and ordered to undergo substance abuse evaluation/treatment; have no violent contact w/victim; and forfeit firearm.

Cooper, James
2011 CF 004415A
Neglect of Child Cause Great Harm
A 3-mo old child that defendant was babysitting was allegedly submerged and nearly drowned. Defendant appeared to be drunk when the mother went to pick the baby up.
Defendant pled no contest & adjudication was withheld.  He was sentenced to 5 years probation; ordered to complete a 6-week parenting class, drug screening, and to have no unsupervised contact with children<10 yrs old.

Tomasello, Eric
2011 CF 002964A
Unauthorized Access to Computer/Network; Stalking
Defendant is a Casselberry police officer who allegedly stalked his ex-girlfriend & her new boyfriend by using his police credentials to research info on computer reserved for police business. He rec'd pretrial diversion for a 2009 DV assault in Orange Co.
Case was nolle prossed.

The following cases had “no information filed,” meaning the State chose not to pursue prosecution:

Hamilton, Luther
2012 CF 000050A
Sexual Assault Vic<12
Defendant allegedly had sexual contact with a child while her mother was in the next room of the home

Spector, Joel
2011 MM 009220A & 2011 MM 009434A
Battery DV & Violation of Pretrial Release Conditions on DV case
Defendant was terminated as a PE assistant at Wilson Elementary after he allegedly grabbed his 18-yr old daughter's arm during an argument

Chase, Rebecca
2011 CF 005352A
Agg Assault WDW
Defendant, an exceptional-ed teacher at LMHS, allegedly pointed a .44 caliber gun at her boyfriend in their home

Shambaugh, Michael
2011 MM 012217A
Battery DV
Defendant, an OCSO deputy, allegedly assaulted his wife at their Lake Mary home

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Whatever happened to. . . ? #40

The following Orange County cases had “no information filed,” which means that the State chose not to pursue a prosecution.

Santos, Jonathan
Att 2nd Deg Murder
Defendant allegedly tried to throw his wife off the balcony during an argument

Luckey, Kevin
Agg Battery Pregnant Person
Defendant allegedly burned his pregnant girlfriend with a  cigarette to her face because she talked to another man

Jones, Jennifer
Neglect of Child
Defendant was arrested after she left her 14-mo old son for 6 hours to pay off a drug deal

Castell, Bertram
Cruelty Toward Child
Defendant allegedly beat his 13-yr old son over bad grades, leaving him with 2 black eyes and a knot on the back of his head

Pascual, Gisela Aimee
Agg Child Abuse
Defendant allegedly beat her 10-yr old on the legs, rear & back for not doing homework

Frano, Felix
Child Neglect (5cts)
Frano, Blake
Child Neglect (3cts)
Frano, Kelly
Child Neglect (2cts)

Code Enforcement condemned the trailer where co-defendants and 13 other people, 10 of which were children, were living in squalor

Beeston, Jermaine A
Armed Kidnapping; Agg Assault w/Firearm (2cts); Tampering w/Witness; Battery (DV)
Defendant allegedly abducted his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint and took her to his home where they were awakened by SWAT. Defendant has numerous previous DV-related felony arrests, w/no convictions.

Donberg, Jonathan Leslie
Burglary of Dwelling w/Assault; Sexual Battery
Defendant allegedly forced his way into his ex-girlfriend's home & raped her

Smith, Rayshell Lavone
Written Threat to Kill/Injure
Defendant allegedly sent death threats to an 8th grader, a classmate of her daughter, via Facebook

Mosley, Octavius Varian
Sexual Battery; Att Unlicensed Practice of Health Care Professional
Defendant, while employed at Planet Beach, allegedly inappropriately touched two customers during a massage

Jordan, Willie
Agg Assault WDW; Battery
Defendant allegedly threatened his brother with a rifle after which he surrendered peacefully to hostage negotiators

Sidders, Danny
Defendant, an OPD officer, is charged with beating his girlfriend & locking her out of their home

Allen, Kameron Jerome
Cause Bodily Harm
Defendant was allegedly shot during a domestic dispute with Tiffany McKnight on Valentine's Day (2012MM000074AE)

McNight, Tiffany
Cause Bodily Harm
Defendant allegedly shot Kameron Allen during a domestic dispute on Valentine's Day (2012MM000075AE)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whatever happened to . . . ? #39

You may be wondering "whatever happened to Laura & the blog?"

I've been contending with a back injury dating back to November from which I'm still trying to recover. Hence the infrequent posts and even less frequent trips to the courthouse. Those benches are not very kind to a bad back you know :)

Nevertheless, here are dispositions from the last couple of months of some Orange County media cases:

Isalgue, Eligio
1st Degree Murder w/Firearm (2cts); Burg of Dwelling w/Assault or Battery
Defendant allegedly shot his estranged wife of 20 yrs & her new boyfriend while their 13-yr old daughter & a friend of hers were in the apartment.
Defendant was found guilty by jury and sentenced to 2 consecutive LIFE sentences.

Bradley, Roosevelt II
1st Deg Murder, Agg Child Abuse
Defendant's 8-mo son died after unsupervised visit with defendant - the child's twin sister was unharmed. Trial in Dec 2010 resulted in mistrial due to hung jury.
Defendant was found guilty by jury and sentenced to LIFE in the Department of Corrections.

Pappas, Joel
Sexual Battery WDW (2cts); Burglary of Dwelling w/Assault or Battery; Robbery
Defendant was arrested in Seminole Co in connection with several rapes near UCF.
Defendant was found guilty by jury and sentenced to LIFE in the Department of Corrections.

Smzuc, Lori
L/L Battery (3cts); L/L Molestation (3cts); L/L Conduct; Use of Child Sex Perf
Defendant (age 43) allegedly raped a 13-yr old boy at her house, asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend, and made numerous demands upon him
Defendant was sentenced to 4y DOC, 10y sex offender probation; and ordered to have no contact with the victim.  Another case (2011-CF-015175-A-O) wherein Smzuc is charged with Aggravated Stalking of a Minor, is pending.

Rains, Paul David
Possess Child Pornography (10cts)
Defendant is a former TSA employee at OIA who confessed to downloading images of children 5-11 years old.
Defendant pled no contest to 7 counts and was sentenced to 51 weeks jail, 4 yrs probation; 200 hours community service, and ordered to not interact w/children<18.

Hoffman, Rick Lenn
Agg Stalking of Minor<16 (6cts); Follow/Harrass/Cyberstalk; Fail to Leave Property Upon Order by Owner (2cts); Battery
Defendant was apprehended by citizens & a child's mother outside the Russian Academy of Ballet when they noticed him watching & taking pictures of girls at the school
Defendant pled no contest to Battery, Trespass (2cts) & Disorderly Conduct and was sentenced to 180 days jail.

Simons, Shannon Ronell
Kidnap w/Intent to Inflict Harm/Terror w/Weapon; Agg Battery GBH
Defendant allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend & beat her with a rake
Defendant pled to Aggravated Battery Great Bodily Harm and was sentenced to 102 days jail w/credit 102 days time served; 5 years probation.

Fowlkes, Guy Swindell
Battery DV
Defendant was initially found not competent for allegedly igniting some explosives at a fireworks tent as part of an altercation with his pregnant girlfriend in 2011CF8389
He pled no contest and was sentenced to 53 days jail w/credit 53 days time served; 312 days probation; BIP; and to have no contact with victim.

Leonard, Kendra R
Neglect of child
Defendant allegedly left her 14-mo old daughter alone in her crib for 7 hours while she went to Universal Orlando. Defendant was put on 2-yrs probation 10/08 for child neglect, admitted to violating probation 3/09 and had her probation reinstated.
Defendant pled no contest in this case and was sentenced to 1 week jail, 6 months community control, 24 months probation, 50 hours community service; and to attend drug/alcohol school.

Thomas, Leslie Ann
Battery; Contrib to Delinq/Depend of Minor (2cts); Trespass on School Grounds; Interfere w/School Admin Functions
Defendant allegedly assaulted a child that was bullying her child at Lockhart Middle School.
Defendant pled guilty to Counts 1-4 and was sentenced to 1 day jail & 360 days probation.

Laster, Delores Richardson
1st Degree Murder
Defendant allegedly shot her husband in 1988 & was arrested 3/09
Defendant was acquitted by jury

Henry, John Peter
L/L Battery
Defendant is one of 12 who allegedly sexually assaulted a 15-yr old runaway and forced another 15-yr old to prostitution.
Defendant was acquitted by jury

Burns, Allen Robert Jr
2010-CF-008584-A-O & 2010-CF-000853-A-O
Sexual Battery (3cts); Kidnap w/Intent to Commit Felony
Defendant is a bondsman who allegedly threatened to revoke a client's bond unless she had sex with him
Defendant was acquitted by jury

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to re-victimize a victim, Part 1

Last month, the mother of a 15-yr old girl filed a petition for injunction for protection against sexual violence on behalf of her daughter. The respondent was their 16-yr old next door neighbor and his father, appearing on his son's behalf. The teens had never dated. They do not go to the same school. She is home schooled because of physical and mental issues.

After reviewing the explicit allegations in the petition, Judge Keith White granted a hearing which was held earlier this month. So far, so good.

As you might imagine, anyone who has been forcibly raped - orally, vaginally and anally -  would be terrified to be in the same room with their perpetrator. To force a teenager (or anyone for that matter) to testify for over an hour about the ordeal because your mother cannot corroborate the actual incident (having not witnessed the crime personally) goes beyond the scope of what is necessary for a civil injunction. Judge White required this girl to go into excruciating detail in spite of the comprehensiveness of the allegations that were in the written petition (caution: graphic language).

Remember, the burden of proof in civil cases is a "preponderance of the evidence," and not "beyond a reasonable doubt," as is the requirement for criminal cases.

To make matters worse, the Respondent's father & the perpetrator laughed at the victim's allegations and claimed that the sex was consensual (not at all uncommon in these cases).  The victim denied consent.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge White told the Petitioner that the her job was to meet the burden of proof necessary for him to be able to grant an injunction.  You could almost see her holding her breath in anticipation of being denied the order for protection that she so desperately sought.

Judge White, however, did grant an injunction to the girl.

A six month, "no hostile contact" injunction.

So this perpetrator is currently not in violation of the court order if he chooses to contact her, as long as he's "not hostile" towards her.

For six whole months.

After that, the injunction expires. Unless of course she wants to go back before the same judge and request an extension.  How likely do you think she'll be to do that?

Judge White failed this girl. And he failed to do much to hold the perpetrator accountable for his actions.

Let's hope that law enforcement and the State Attorney's Office are able to prosecute this sex offender to the fullest extent possible.

We have more to report about Judge White in upcoming days.