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Tampa man faces DUI manslaughter charge after killing 5-year-old girl

The man accused of causing a crash that killed a 5-year-old girl last week has now been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter. The Florida Highway Patrol reported that Rolando Rojas, 52, sideswiped two vehicles stopped for traffic Friday night. Rojas struck a van in the intersection with Bloomingdale Avenue, injuring four children including 5-year-old Lilly Mills. The young girl died later at Tampa General Hospital.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue. Rojas attempted to squeeze between two lanes on U.S. 301, which caused the accident. After sideswiping the two  vehicles, he continued along the intersection where he smashed into the passenger side of a minivan that was carrying two adults and four children, including Lilly.

“I feel very, very sad,” said Julie Mills, the paternal grandmother of victim Lilly Mills. “I am so sad. She was 5. I’m so sad.”

Rojas faces charges of driving under the influence, DUI with serious bodily injury, reckless driving with serious bodily injury, and four counts of DUI with property damage or injury.

 

What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion for Field Sobriety Tests?

When a motorist is stopped and the officer is suspicious of alcohol us, the suspect is normally asked to vacate the vehicle and asked to perform tests to determine physical dexterity and mental awareness. These tests are known as field sobriety tests. They normally consist of the following:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
Police officers will ask the suspect to look at an object, like a pen, while the object is moving back and forth. The officer is watching the eyes of the suspect looking for a lack of smooth pursuit. If nystagmus can be detected, the suspect will more than likely be arrested.

“Walk-and-Turn” Test
The walk and turn test is a divided attention test. To perform the test, you must take nine; heel-to-toe steps forward, pivot, then take nine heel-to-toe steps back. While performing this test, you are asked to count out loud the number of steps that you have taken.

“One-Legged” Test
The one-leg test is another divided attention test. The officer asks the driver to raise one foot six inches off the ground, count out loud until you’re told to stop, then look down, point your toe out, and keep you arms at your side.

When can an officer request a field sobriety test?
Many of our clients often ask what level of evidence is necessary for the officer to demand these tests. In other words, when you are pulled over for a traffic infringement, what must the officer notice in order to qualify reasonable suspicion? Despite popular belief, the smell of alcohol is not enough. Most courts require a combination of factors, including swerving of the vehicle, speeding, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and a strong odor of alcohol.

Often, a person is not initially pulled over wholly because of a suspicion of alcohol. A person is initially pulled over due to a minor traffic violation and upon closer inspection; an officer notices signs of driving while intoxicated. In the State v. Kliphouse, the Florida court stated the mere presence of an odor of alcohol alone is legally insufficient to form a basis for reasonable suspicion of impairment while operating a vehicle. Almost all police reports read like a guide and describe these three factors: bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, flushed face and/or slurred speech.

If you feel you’ve been unfairly demanded to submit to a field sobriety test, contact Casey Bryant, P.A. We’ll give your case the attention it deserves to ensure you are treated fairly by the Florida court system.

 

Python Case Begins This Week

Early morning on July 1, 2009, an 8-foot, 6-inch pet Burmese python escaped from its aquarium and made its way into the crib of a 2-year-old girl where it wrapped itself around the child, asphyxiating her to death.

This week, the guardians of that child, the mother and her boyfriend, stand trial for the child’s death for failing to maintain her safe protection from the animal.

Jaren Hare, 21 and Charles Darnell, 34, are charged with involuntary manslaughter, third-degree murder, and child neglect. If found guilty on all three counts, the couple could face up to 35 years in prison.

The 2-year-old, Shaianna Hare, was strangled in her crib at her mother’s house. The snake, “Gypsy”, also sank its fangs into the child’s face. Dried spots of blood from a sheet were part of the evidence shown to the jury during the first day of trial.

The python was contained in a glass enclosure with only a heavy quilt placed over the exposed top, but nothing else.

Prosecutor Pete Magino opened by telling the six-member jury at Sumter County Courthouse that the adults were responsible for child’s death. On the other side, the defense team characterized the incident as a “terrible accident.”

 

11-Year-Old Macclenny Boy Dies from Traffic Accident Injuries

An 11-year-old Macclenny boy died from injuries he suffered after a car accident on Monday. Sean Douglas Connell was hospitalized in critical condition after he and his sister Kristen Connell, 14, were hit by a car while crossing Florida 121.

The brother and sister were hit about 7:15 a.m. in the area of Jonathan Street. Connell died late Monday, said Lt. Bill Leeper of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The driver, Tara Nunley, 29, was taking the pair to summer school during the time of the accident. Nunley was not injured and no charges were filed.

 

Jurors in Casey Anthony Trial Are “Sick” about Decision

Two jurors in the Casey Anthony case have come forth to say they wish the outcome had been different but prosecutors did not provide enough evidence to convict her of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony who was found murdered.

“It doesn’t feel good. It was a horrible decision to have to make,” says Jennifer Ford, who identified herself as Juror No. 3. “We were sick to our stomach to get that verdict. We were crying, and not just the women.”

In an emotional interview with the Florida’s St. Petersburg Times, Juror No. 2, who did not want to be identified, told the Times “I just swear to God   . . .  I wish we had more evidence to put her away. I truly do . . . But it wasn’t there,” he said as tears flowed during his emotional interview.

With a nation in mourning, how did Casey Anthony go free? The prosecutors were unable to prove who Caylee’s caretaker was at the time of her death – Casey Anthony or the grandparents.

“We truly don’t know what happened. Somebody knows, but we don’t know,” says Juror No. 2.

Although Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder, she was convicted on four misdemeanor counts of lying to the police. Upon her sentencing on July 7, 2011, Casey Anthony could face up to four years in prison, although experts agree that with time served and good behavior, she may be out by the end of the summer.

The four lies at issue include Anthony lying about whether her daughter was missing; about 2-year-old Caylee being in the custody of a nanny; about having a job at Universal Studios and about having received a phone call from Caylee.

Caylee Anthony, daughter of Casey Anthony, disappeared from her Orlando, Florida, in June 2008. Her disappearance attracted national media attention after her grandmother Cindy Anthony reported her missing. During her phone call with 911, Cindy told the operator Caylee had been missing “for 31 days.” Cindy Anthony went on to say, “There is something wrong. I found my daughter’s car today and it smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.”

According to Casey Anthony’s father, George Anthony, Casey left the family’s home on June 16, 2008 with Caylee and they did not return. Cindy asked repeatedly during the month to see Caylee, but Casey claimed she was too busy with a work assignment in Tampa, Florida. At other times, she said Caylee was with a nanny, Zenaida “Zanny” Fernandez-Gonzalez. Law enforcement officials did eventually tracked down Fernandez-Gonzalez only to find that she had never met Casey, Caylee, or any other member of the Anthony family.

On July 13, 2008, while doing yard work, Cindy and George Anthony found a notice from the post office for a certified letter affixed on their front door. When George picked up the certified letter on July 15, 2008, he found his daughter’s car was in a tow yard. When George picked up the car, both he and the tow yard attendant noted a strong smell coming from the truck. Both testified later they believed the smell was that of a decomposing body. However, when the trunk opened, it only contained a bag of trash and no human remains.

Caylee Anthony’s remains were found in December 2008 in a wooded area. The prosecutors alleged that that Casey used chloroform to render the child unconscious, then duct taped the toddler’s nose and mouth to suffocate her.

 


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