Articles Posted in Violent Crimes

Earlier last month, a man was resentenced to death after being granted a new sentencing phase on appeal. In 2010, Leo Kaczmar III was convicted of the stabbing death of his father’s girlfriend. Along with the murder charge, Kaczmar was charged with arson and attempted sexual battery. During the sentencing phase, the prosecution cited the sexual battery charge as an aggravating circumstance, making Kaczmar eligible for a death sentence, which he ultimately received.

corridor-at-alcatraz-1383058-m.jpgAccording to a report by Jacksonville.com, Kaczmar won a new trial on appeal based on a lack of evidence for the attempted sexual battery charge. Because that charge was used as an aggravating circumstance, when it was thrown out so was the death sentence. However, after having another sentencing phase Kaczmar was resentenced to death by another jury.

The Death Penalty in Florida

Death sentences in Florida are reserved for the most serious crimes. In fact, in Florida and across the United States, death sentences are handed down only for certain homicide offenses. But it takes more than a homicide conviction to be eligible for a death sentence; there must also be an aggravating circumstance.

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Fights caused by heated words, alcohol and drugs, and other circumstances that can fuel rage have ended in many murder related charges. Unfortunately, killings related to romance-triangles have caused the deaths of 95 people last year. One person was reported killed by a sniper and four were killed by being thrown out of windows. 82 people were killed in alcohol-fueled brawls, 58 people were killed in narcotics-induced fights, 148 people were killed in arguments over money or property, and 3,085 people were killed in other disputes, all the lowest figures in four years.

If one is accused of killing someone in Florida, that killing may be excused or mitigated under certain circumstances, depending on whether the murder was excusable or was justified. An excusable homicide is different than justifiable homicide. Justifiable homicide is a killing that is done while resisting an attempt on one’s own life or while resisting a felony in one’s home. imagespctape.jpg

These circumstances include:

– When the death is caused by accident when participating in a lawful act while using ordinary caution without illegal intent.
– When the death happens by accident in the heat of passion with sudden provocation.
– When the death is caused by accident as a result of sudden combat if a dangerous weapon is not used.

Provocation is a possible defense by excuse or pardon alleging a sudden or temporary loss of control (a permanent loss of control is in the state of insanity) in response to another’s provoking conduct reasonable enough to justify an acquittal, a mitigated sentence or a conviction for a lesser charge. Provocation can be a relevant factor in a court’s assessment of the accused’s intent and state of mind at the time the act occurred.

Heat of passion is recognized as a defense to the crimes of first and second-degree murder in Florida. In murder cases involving romance triangles and infidelity, emotion tends to override the ability of the accused to act rationally, which caused the death of the victim, who, in many times, is the spouse, and other times is the person the accused’s spouse was cheating with. If the individual is riled up in the “heat of passion” and kills someone, the killer will not be free from punishment, but many times is able to more easily lower a murder charge to a manslaughter charge.

Heat of passion is a mental state provoked by fear, rage, anger or terror that, combined with adequate provocation, is a defense to the crimes of first and second degree murder. Provocation, in order to be adequate, must be such as might naturally cause a reasonable person in the passion of the moment to lose self-control and act on impulse and without reflection. An example of this is voluntary manslaughter, an intentional killing that was not planned ahead of time, like one person killing another during a dispute, or after finding out about infidelity.

Even though some have actually harmed someone else, people go through with actions that they would not normally ever think of doing because of altered states of mental acuity. When this happens, things said, acts done, and effects rendered can leave the accused what seems like a very rough position with no way out. However, if one obtains an experienced Jacksonville felony violent crimes defense attorney to fight for one’s case, one can ensure one’s rights will be known and protected.

If one is in such a situation and one obtains an experienced attorney, one’s attorney will be able to challenge the evidence against one, including witness testimony, questioning the conduct and manner of any arrest made or search executed, or how evidence was processed by law enforcement.

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U.S. Marshals have arrested and charged Joubrun Rick Edmond, and Jamar Mousakheel with carkacking with a firearm, that was caught on surveillance video at a 7-Eleven. The victim, a 25-year-old man, rolled up to the gas pumps in a 2004 gray Ford Mustang. The man was approached by one of the robbers, who brandished a black, semi-automatic handgun. He pointed it at the victim’s face and demanded the car keys. The victim told the carjacker the keys were on the front seat. A few seconds later, the second robber approached and stood behind the victim, apparently toting a gun in his waistband. Both robbers then got into the Mustang and sped off.

Jacksonville carjacking crimes are serious offenses for all involved, because of the violent nature and complicated nature of the crime. Unfortunately, more young people are accused of crimes of this nature simply because of the thrill involved. However, the terror that will fill one’s life when charged with a crime like this will make one wish one could turn back the clock.
In Florida, carjacking means the taking of a car from the person or custody of another with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of the car and in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear. If a gun or other deadly weapon is used while committing the carjacking, the crime is considered a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. If no gun, deadly weapon, or other weapon is used during the commission of the carjacking, the crime is considered a first degree felony, but is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. indexcarjack.jpg

Crimes that involve guns are typically prosecuted more vigorously by the State and are typically punished harder, especially those crimes that involved actual gun-fire or other forms of violence. The United States Department of Justice estimates that in about half of all carjacking attempts, the attacker succeeds in stealing the victim’s car. The goal of the State Attorney’s Office is to deter criminals from committing gun-related crimes by pushing harsher punishments for accused parties when they are sentenced.

A law was passed in 1992 making carjacking a federal crime. This change occurred amidst great media attention into the apparent spate of carjacking thefts, several of which resulted in homicides. The first federal prosecution of a fatal carjacking involved the shooting death of two men by carjackers using a stolen 9mm pistol in Osceola County, Florida in 1992.

Unfortunately, being convicted of car-jacking has a number of consequences that make re-integration into the community an extremely difficult process. When the police come accusing one of carjacking, the first statement one should make is a request for an experienced attorney who can fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

Carjacking is an extreme offense to have on one’s record, and unfortunately, this charge is not one that can be sealed or expunged from one’s records. What is even worse is that there are many ways other than through government agencies that a potential employer might find one’s records, making finding employment after prison improbable, if not impossible.

Sometimes the circumstances of the crime are of such a heinous nature that a Judge might decide to render a harsher punishment upon the accused. However, if one has a good record, such as documented good behavior in the community, or no run-ins with the law, then the Judge might take a second look and lighten one’s punishment.

Many accused parties throughout Jacksonville face criminal charges of this nature all of the time. For some, the reality of a lengthy jail time is faced because of a shoddy defense. However, if one in this situation obtains an experienced Jacksonville carjacking crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected, one will be able to know that one will have the best defense possible to one’s charge and that one will be able to move on from this bump in the road to the future.

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Jamil Etayem, a Florida man who was arrested on domestic battery charges less than a month ago is suspected of fatally stabbing his girlfriend and her 9-month-old son multiple times before turning the knife on himself. Etayem allegedly stabbed his 23-year-old girlfriend, Roseanna Sanson, and her infant son, Carter, in what appears to be a gruesome double-murder suicide, what local police have described as a “pretty horrific scene.”
Battery is defined as when a person “intentionally touches or strikes another person, without that person’s consent or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.” A Battery becomes an Aggravated Battery if “during the commission of a battery, he/she: Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or Uses a deadly weapon. Also, a person commits aggravated battery if the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.” article-2414491-1BAAB053000005DC-367_634x789.jpg

Many times, domestic battery cases appear in the form of choking or strangulation cases. Strangulation impedes the ability to breathe and can reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain. As a result, choking can cause permanent brain damage and other physical injuries. A major problem with many of these cases is that there is a lack of enough physical evidence in these cases to pursue higher charges, yet the case has the support of police officers and prosecutors who try them.

Sometimes, the violent act is only prosecuted as a misdemeanor, without the fear that the offender will likely repeat the violent act against the victim. Unfortunately for those in the victims’ case, since the criminal punishment is minor, many do not feel that their actions are of consequence. In many cases, deceased victims had been repeat targets, sometimes family members or spouses. Restraining orders are often obtained in these situations to avoid such repeated violent contact, which will restrict the accused’s movement in certain locations, even including one’s own residence, in certain situations.

Unfortunately for the many currently being charged with domestic battery, this case will put a bad taste in many Judges’ mouths, as well as State prosecutors, who will want to now fight harder for domestic battery convictions and harsher punishments for those convicted, thinking this action will help recidivism rates drop. However, this action only harms the thousands of Florida men and women who are falsely accused every day across the State of domestic battery and other forms of inter-spousal or familial abuse.

Domestic battery is a felony offense in Florida. Many times, those accused of domestic battery may attempt to commit domestic battery repeatedly, or may be accused of such abuse repeatedly. In either situation, repeat offenders should remember that if one has previously been convicted of three or more violent felonies or attempts at violent felonies, one may be classified as a “three time violent offender” or “violent career criminal”, resulting in one receiving a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Violent career criminals may be facing a 10 year prison sentence for a third degree felony, and 30 years for a second degree felony.

Not every case of domestic battery, or in this case, murder, is premeditated, nor is it always intentional for the victim to be permanently harmed or disfigured. People act out recklessly towards others, and as such, the State keeps track of these incidents of violent behavior. If one is found guilty of a domestic violence offense, one’s arrest record will be permanent. A Domestic Violence charge cannot be sealed or expunged. This means anyone can look up one’s record and see the domestic violence conviction. This is very detrimental to those trying to obtain a job, as many employers automatically assume that the person is violent regardless of the facts.

One in a situation like this should immediately obtain an experienced Jacksonville domestic violence defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected. One should not waste time when the solution to one’s predicament is out there waiting.

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John Errol Ferguson, A Florida man who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1978 for a pair of killing sprees, was sentenced and scheduled for execution by lethal injection, pending a last-minute appeal by lawyers claiming that he is insane. Ferguson has spent 35 years on Florida’s death row for killing eight people, including two teenagers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) filed an amicus brief last week, along with three Florida mental health organizations, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution, arguing that Ferguson had a long history of severe mental illness.

A perfectly normal person of a reasonable mind may still have tendencies toward insanity, particularly when a traumatic event such as a close death or a car accident occurs. No matter what the particular circumstance surrounding the event is, if the person is truly insane during the period of the crime, that person will have to show that something caused this mental infirmity and that the infirmity caused them to be unaware of their actions. If such mental infirmity is proven, the death penalty will not be applicable, as the death penalty is not constitutionally allowable as a punishment for an accused whose delusions prevent him from understanding the nature of what is happening to him. imagesCAL9DNNN.jpg

Many defense attorneys see situations in which an accused’s mental state must be questioned for the benefit and proper protection of the accused. Sometimes, personal statements made by the accused stating they possess some higher power or influence that either gives right to their cause or absolves them of their guilt, can be seen as statements of insanity or delusion. Many times, if the accused’s defense attorney can show that the accused suffered from insane delusions and does not understand the death penalty, nor why it had been imposed, then that form of punishment may be prohibited.

Under Florida Statute 775.027, the defense of insanity allows the accused to show the court that, at the time the crime was said to occur, the accused was suffering a mental infirmity that caused the accused to not know the consequences of one’s actions and that one’s actions were wrong.
In situations where one’s mental state is necessary to prove, and one cannot show that one is competent, one cannot be convicted of nor be sentenced to, a crime that requires malice, or even less, mental competence. Many times, the State will try to find or fathom a way that the State may constitutionally put to death a man who is under delusions, such as in this case. In this case, according to Ferguson’s defense attorney, Ferguson has claimed he is the ‘Prince of God’ and believes he has a destiny of being the right hand of God and returning to purify earth after the State tries to kill him, a statement he made during the State’s previous and failed attempt to execute the man.

Many times, people go through with actions that they would not normally ever think of doing because of altered states of mental acuity. When alcohol, drugs, or other mind-altering substances are involved, these actions are multiplied. When this happens, things said, acts done, and effects rendered can leave the accused in what seems like an insane situation. Many times, this is exactly the case. If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, one can ensure one’s rights will be known and protected.

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Donald James Smith, 56, has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Charish Perriwinkle. Charish went missing Friday night after Smith befriended the child at a dollar store and then offered to buy her clothes at Wal-Mart, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

It is always unfortunate when a child dies. However, it is also unfortunate when a charge is misapplied to the case. In this case, the proper charge of murder, which is the premeditated, intentional killing of a human being, also the most serious criminal accusation the State of Florida can bring. As such, the punishments are both significant and severe and may include either life in prison or the death penalty. images%20%284%29.jpg

A death is normally classified as a homicide case when it happens in conjunction with the completion or attempt to commit another crime, such as arson, kidnapping, sexual battery or stalking. The level of intent to kill determines the differences between first and second degree murder. First degree is the result of a willful act with the intent to kill. A homicide is considered second degree murder when it happens as the result of an intentional criminal act, even though the perpetrator may not have meant to kill someone.

Remember, not every death that occurs at the hands of another individual is considered murder. Deaths can occur as a result of self-defense, when a pregnant woman is injured or killed and her unborn child dies, assisting in a suicide, when an automobile is involved in a death, and many other situations. In some cases, you can face homicide charges when a death is completely unintended or accidental.

One of the most common of these death related offenses that does not require the intent to kill is vehicular homicide. In Florida, when a person is killed as a result of another person operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner that is likely to cause death and great bodily harm, the death of that person is a vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide can be a felony of the first or second degree. Vehicular homicide can carry penalties that include large fines, years of prison time, as well as community service hours.

People are involved in situations like this unfortunately all across America. Not every one of those situations was the product of intent to kill anyone. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, ensuring the court has a real understanding, and not the State Attorney-created image that is so often painted for the Judge.

If one is accused of crime that resulted in a death, one is facing very serious charges that can alter the rest of one’s life. If one is in a situation like this, one should obtain an experienced Jacksonville homicide crimes defense attorney who will fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected. The memory of details fade quickly. Evidence can become lost or handled in a way that will not serve one’s best interests.

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A 13 year old Ohio boy entered the equivalent of a guilty plea in juvenile court after admitting he fatally shot his mother in the head with a rifle when he was 10 after what a relative described as an argument over chores. According to his defense attorneys, the boy, now 13, was living in an emotionally abusive environment, had had an argument over carrying firewood, was provoked by his mother’s screaming and “just snapped.” The boy went to a neighbor’s house, called 911 and told the dispatcher he had shot his mother at their home.

When juveniles (under 18 years of age) commit crimes, they may be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer. Depending on the type of crime, juveniles might be taken to a juvenile assessment center where they will be screened for detention. Depending on the charge and based on an assessment of risk to the public and the needs of the juveniles, they may be placed on any of three forms of detention status: home, non-secure or secure. If placed in secure detention they will be held in a secure facility until the court decides their case. In cases involving a possible homicide, the juvenile will most likely be put in secure detention awaiting trial. untitled%20%284%29.png

Juveniles who are prosecuted as adults may be sentenced to adult or juvenile sanctions. After a hearing, the court will decide on the sentencing or disposition. Any juvenile who is prosecuted and sentenced as an adult, regardless of age, will be treated as an adult in any future criminal proceedings. However, juveniles who are prosecuted as adults but sentenced as juveniles keep their status as juveniles.

Many think that because the court may apply an adult charge to a juvenile, that the same punishment may be applied. In certain circumstances, a child may be punished as an adult. However, capital punishment is different. The United States Supreme Court in the case of Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), stated that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

The courts must consider mitigating factors in rendering punishment on the accused. Those that have the best chance of getting their cases resentenced would be children who committed crimes that had mitigating factors including mental health issues, child abuse in the home, individuals who did not have significant roles in the commission of the offense, the age of the child, whether the commission of the crime was sophisticated, the possibility of rehabilitation, and even peer pressure.

Adolescents are involved in situations like this unfortunately all across America. Not every one of those juveniles truly understood their actions, nor were they intending to kill their parents. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes defense attorney to fight the case and show one’s justifiable reasons for one’s actions, ensuring the court has a real understanding, and not the State Attorney-created image that is so often painted for the Judge.

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Larry Paul Delaney, a wanted man of Broward County has pled guilty to assaulting a deputy U.S. marshal while he was being arrested in the courthouse, after attempting to file a civil lawsuit at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. A courthouse security officer noticed there was a “wanted” notice for Delaney as he went through security and the metal detector at the courthouse, for failing to register as a sex offender for a crime in 1998. Four U.S. Marshals were summoned to arrest Delaney because he had a history of assaulting law enforcement officers, according to court records. Delaney resisted arrest and tried to punch one of the marshals, who ducked to avoid being struck and fell to the floor. Delaney kicked the marshal four to five times in the groin and upper thigh area while he was on the ground.
Many times, one may be charged with resisting arrest, either without violence or with violence. However, both are serious offenses that one must be aware of in order to be fully capable of a proper defense.

Charges of resisting arrest without violence are commonly filed against those who run away from law enforcement or attempt to hide before being subsequently arrested. Charges of resisting arrest with violence differ because these charges are filed because of one’s alleged use of violence in attempting to evade arrest. Normally the State will “throw the book” at one if one has the possibility of charges involving misconduct against a police officer or attacking a police officer in the process of resisting, including additional charges of assault or battery on a law enforcement officer. imagesrawv.jpg

In Florida, Resisting Arrest with Violence is a charge that is strongly prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office. In order to be properly convicted of resisting arrest with violence in Florida, the prosecution must prove without a reasonable doubt:

– one knowingly and willfully resisted, obstructed, or opposed the officer by threatening or committing a violent act against him/her,
– at the time, the officer was engaged in the execution of legal process or lawful execution of a legal duty,
– At the time, the officer was in fact an officer or person legally authorized to execute legal process, AND
– At the time, one knew the officer was in fact an officer or person legally authorized to execute legal process.

There are multiple defenses available to challenge a resisting without violence charge in Jacksonville. Common defenses can include the following:

– One’s actions were not “violent” within the meaning of the statute,
– The arresting officer used excessive force and one’s actions were appropriate to fight the excessive force;
– The officer was not engaged in the execution of a legal duty;
– One did not knowingly and willfully commit an act of resistance, but was the result of difficulty of the officer applying handcuffs or other restraint to the accused, or
– one did not know that the person he/she resisted was a law enforcement officer
In many cases, the accused may run away from police because of simple fear of what might happen in prison should one get caught by police. Even though it is the human instinct to run when faced by the possibility of one’s freedoms being stripped, remember, the police can only temporarily deprive one of one’s rights. However, one controls just how much the police and the legal system control the outcome.

One can either hope that the system is fair and treats one with the dignity of a citizen that is expected under the Constitution, or one can obtain an experienced Jacksonville resisting arrest defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected. One should not have to face an army of difficult legal problems alone. One needs an experienced attorney.

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Jodi Arias has spent two weeks on the witness stand, being charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Alexander had been shot in the head, stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times and had his throat slit. Arias says it was self-defense when he attacked her after a day of raunchy sex, but police say she planned it in a jealous rage. Arias has been answering detailed questions from attorneys about practically every aspect of her life including the day she killed her lover and the painstaking steps she took to cover her tracks.

Arias initially told authorities she had nothing to do with Alexander’s death then blamed it on masked intruders before settling on self-defense. Her repeated lies to authorities, friends and family in the days after his death, and her methodical efforts to create an alibi and avoid suspicion have been center stage throughout the weeks-long trial as she explained how she remembers little from the day of the killing.imagesjodiarias.jpg

When a person is accused of a violent crime, many times, the first thing they is either deny committing the crime, admit to the crime but claim self-defense, or claim an alibi, or explanation of impossibility due to them either being somewhere else at the time. The giving of a false alibi may result in possible subsequent criminal offenses such as perjury and obstruction of justice, but may also result in negative ramifications for the trial itself, even a mistrial.

In order to be properly convicted of perjury in Jacksonville, the State must prove one:

– Appeared before a person authorized to administer oaths or affirmations;
– Makes an oath, by swearing or affirming to speak the truth;
– And, while under oath, makes a false statement regarding a material matter;
– That the person did not believe was true when it was made.

The different perjury penalties that one may be exposed to will depend on the location and nature of where the perjurious statement was made, either in an Unofficial Proceeding, an Official Proceeding, or an Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding.

If one is convicted of Perjury Not in an Official Proceeding, a first degree misdemeanor, one will be exposed to up to one year in jail, probation, and expensive fines. If one is convicted of Perjury in Official Proceeding, a third degree felony, the penalties one are exposed to are even more severe, including up to a five year prison and/or probation sentence and $5000 in fines.

If one is convicted of Perjury in Official Capital Prosecution Proceeding, as Arias might possibly be charged, should the prosecution decide, a judge is required to impose a minimum prison sentence of 34½ months in prison and also has the discretion to extend one’s sentence to the normal second degree felony penalties, including fifteen years in prison, probation, and $10,000 in fines.

Perjury charges can be complicated, and can be hard to understand at times, particularly when one may not have intended to perjure oneself. If one has been charged with a perjury related offense, one should not delay in obtaining an experienced Jacksonville perjury crimes defense attorney to fight the case. There are many defenses available to this rather unfortunate crime.

If one recants one’s false statement, by admitting the statement to be false as soon as possible, before it would have been exposed as false, and has not substantially affected the proceeding, one will have a defense to any prosecution for perjury or false statement.

In some special cases, more than one person will be involved in a crime, and in exchange for prosecutorial immunity, one of the guilty parties will testify against the other. Sometimes though, the person to testify has lied in a previous hearing. If one has been given this prosecutorial immunity, one is required to tell the truth under oath in order to keep the immunity. Therefore, a person may not be properly prosecuted for perjury for making a contradictory statement in the most recent proceeding if one has a grant of immunity. However, if one makes a new statement that is false, one can still be charged with perjury, regardless of immunity.

Many times, a simple statement can make or break the State’s case. If one has been charged with perjury, one should quickly obtain an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected, ensuring that one will not have to suffer at the hands of a powerful State-operated legal system.

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an acquittal in the case of Megan Winfrey, 24, who has been behind bars since 2007 in a murder case in which her conviction was based almost entirely on evidence from dog-scent lineups. The court’s decision Wednesday in Megan Winfrey’s case was based largely on the finding that the state’s evidence against her was insufficient. In her case, the San Jacinto district attorney had argued that along with dog-scent evidence, her suspicious behavior amounted to enough evidence to support her conviction. Prosecutors alleged, among other things, that she attempted to thwart DNA testing by shaving her pubic hair and that teachers at her school overheard her make threatening remarks about Burr and his money. The court disagreed with the prosecutors.

Dogs are used in conjunction with law enforcement all the time, either as a defense force, for use in detection of drugs and other illegal substances, bomb detection, and in this case, to allegedly identify a murderer. imagesdogsniff.jpg

Drug dogs and other dogs used to determine criminal activity, even though specially trained for a purpose, are still dogs. Dogs get excited and will alert to things like tennis balls in trunks other animals in the vicinity. The Court must consider the totality of the circumstances in determining one’s guilt or innocence. Therefore, determining whether the dog’s identification of a substance or scent was sufficiently accurate and reliable as a detector of the presence of drugs, victims, or other criminal-related activity is very important and comes within the review of the courts.

A dog-scent lineup consists of matching a “scent” sample from a crime scene to a “scent” sample from a suspect by a dog. The practice has been used in several states, including Florida, Alaska, Texas, and New York. Even though the dogs have an fairly accurate sense of smell, the major problem has been with the handlers of these dogs, who have been proven to be frauds.

There is a movement to ban the use of dog-scent lineups, but a Fifth Circuit ruling may put a stop on that; the decision held that even if a person was convicted after a questionable canine lineup, the appellate court can affirm the conviction based on corroborating evidence.

The most notorious specialist of this bogus practice has been Former Deputy Keith Pikett of Fort Bend County, Texas. From 1994-2009 he zigzagged across the state of Texas with his dogs, conducting dog-scent lineups. Pikett always told law enforcement and prosecutors exactly what they wanted to hear. The prosecutors loved him, known for being a “justice system rock star.” At one point, his status as an expert was even recognized by an appellate court decision, which gave him extra footing in the legal community, leaving him unchecked in his work.

If Pikett’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his scent lineups were involved in Winfrey’s case. Basing a finding of one’s guilt on inference evidence and other hearsay evidence is, at best, mere theorizing or guessing about one’s possible guilt rather than a reasonable inference based upon evidence and facts presented.

The same thing happened in 1981 in Florida, when DNA testing wasn’t used in criminal investigations. During that time, law enforcement simply relied on presumed “Scent-Tracking Expert” John Preston’s German Shepherd’s legendary nose to sentence Bill Dillon, to life in prison for killing a man in Canova Beach. Preston testified that his dog had tracked Dillon’s scent to a piece of paper he had touched, and had even tracked Dillon to a room he was in at the courthouse. In Dillon’s case, Preston even told the court his dog had the ability to track a scent under water; to actually smell below the water, which is physically impossible for a dog to do. In 1984, Preston was exposed as a fraud.

Many times, a motion to suppress evidence is the only thing that forces law enforcement to adhere to the Constitution, by making sure that evidence like this will not hold water and will be excluded, leaving the State with no case. If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case, one will be sure in what the prosecution and police can and cannot not use against one and can be sure that one will have one’s rights protected.

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