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Thursday, November 13, 2014
"THERE ARE NO WINNERS IN THIS CASE"
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
IT'S A SAD, SAD, SAD, SAD, WORLD .........
Just over three years ago, in July of 2011, the fate of two people, who did not know each other, collided at the intersection of Lejeune Road and Aledo Avenue, in Coral Gables, at 4 o'clock in the morning. The results were nothing short of catastrophic.
Ace reporter David O'Valle, (who recently hit the 5,000 mark for twitter followers), covers the story in the Miami Herald here.
Peter Munoz, 27, was a police officer employed by the Coral Spring PD. By all accounts he was a good cop with a great career ahead of him.
Jenny Gutierrez, 23, was a single mother of a three year old girl. She was employed as a paralegal and she was also enrolled in school at Miami-Dade College. By all accounts she was a good person, a great mother, and she was working hard to provide for a better life for herself and her young child.
Munoz was traveling Southbound on Lejeune. According to the accident reconstruction investigation, he was driving his vehicle at a maximum speed of 56 mph in a 40 mph zone. He was also under the influence of a large quantity of alcohol. His blood, taken after the crash, showed a BAC of .229, nearly three times the legal limit.
Gutierrez was traveling Eastbound on Aledo. She entered the intersection immediately in front of the path of Munoz. She violated his right of way. She was also operating her vehicle with a suspended license. Toxicology results performed by the MEs office indicated positive for both Xanax and Cocaine.
The investigation also showed that there was a 6 to 8 foot hedge that likely obstructed the sight of Gutierrez's vehicle as she was pulling into the intersection to turn left and head Northbound on Lejeune.
Munoz was fired shortly after his arrest.
Gutierrez was pronounced dead at the Ryder Trauma center two hours after the crash. Her daughter is being raised by Gutierrez' mother.
In 2012, defense attorney Alan Ross filed a Motion to Suppress the Blood. Judge Murphy, after hearing testimony that the first officer on the scene did not detect any signs of impairment, that the THI did not believe he had PC for the search warrant when he submitted it to the judge, and after finding that the warrant, (which was the basis for the collection of the blood evidence) lacked key essential facts, granted the Motion to Suppress. The State dropped the DUI Manslaughter charge.
This week, the state dropped the remaining charge of Vehicular Manslaughter. The speed, by itself, was not enough to establish the element of recklessness necessary to obtain a conviction. (See Luzano v. State, 3D13-1678, Oct. 1, 2014).
We have been quoted in the press on more than a few cases as saying that "there are no winners in this case". It appears that that statement certain would apply here.
It's a sad, sad, sad, sad, world.
HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY TO MIAMI DADE DRUG COURT .......
Crack reporter for the DBR, Julie Kay, wrote a great story about 3rd year law student Shayna Finkelstein, who recently was in Miami with her University of Florida mock trial team. The team won first place in an ABA southeast regional mock trial competition. The younger Finkelstein, daughter of famed Help Me Howard Broward PD Finkelstein hopes to follow in her father's footsteps some day and says she will be applying for a job as a PD in Miami and Palm Beach County.
But, here's the problem with Kay's article. In it, she states that Finkelstein "was instrumental in forming Florida's first drug court ... in Broward County".
Veterans' of the Metro Justice Building (MJB), (yes, that was the name of the building from it's opening in 1962 until it was renamed in 1992 after six term State Attorney Richard E. Gerstein, who served as the elected chief prosecutor from 1956-1977), know that the "first" Drug Court in Florida, and in the United States, opened in the MJB in 1989. It wasn't until two years later that Broward followed suit; (Las Vegas had the second ever drug court, with Broward's coming next after that). In the past 25 years, the overwhelmingly successful Miami-Dade Drug Court has had only four judges including Judges Stanley Goldstein, Jeffrey Rosinek, Deborah Labora-White, and current Drug Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen.
Julie's a great reporter, but she needs to get her facts straight. Credit goes out to Chief Judge Gerald Wetherington, Admin. Judge of the Criminal Division Herb Klein, Public Defender Bennett Brummer, and State Attorney Janet Reno for having the vision to create the ground-breaking program 25 years ago. Their slogan is appropriate: "Miami's Drug Court - saving lives, one addict at a time". Happy Birthday Miami-Dade Drug Court - you've come a long way.
CAPTAIN OUT .........