Office of the State Attorney

Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida

 
 
 

 

In The News 2008


Updated: 04/02/2014 07:00 AM

Our Assistant State Attorneys are in court every working day doing their best to keep all of our citizens safe and to maintain the quality of life that makes Southwest Florida so special to all of us.  Although the local media highlights some of the cases that we successfully prosecute, there are a great many of them that never get mentioned.  What follows is a sampling of some of the convictions that our trial teams of prosecutors, investigators, and clerical staff, all working closely with law enforcement, have obtained this year.

Mace Sentenced

Robert Mace of Hendry County was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by lifetime sex offender probation and also has to register as a sexual predator. Mace was found guilty on all 10 counts against him, which were 4 counts of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, 5 counts of Exploitation of a Child and 1 count of Lewd Molestation. Assistant State Attorneys Dan Cavanaugh and Denise Kiser handled the case. 

Life in Prison

83-year-old Joseph Rodriguez was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of his wife in their Cape Coral home in June 2007. Assistant State Attorney Leah Harwood tried the case.

Guilty of Murder

Homeless Fort Myers man, William Foley Miller was found guilty of Second Degree Murder for the killing of 43-year-old Robin Renee Metcalf at the Days Inn in North Fort Myers. Sentencing is scheduled for January 26th. Miller faces life in prison. Assistant State Attorneys Orion Wright and Francine Donnorummo handled the case.

Charlotte County Sentencing

A Charlotte County homeless man was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence, after being found guilty of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Allan Ray McEwen beat another homeless man with a wooden club. The victim suffered many serious injuries including a fractured skull, but survived the ordeal. Assistant State Attorneys Martina Hedvicek and Jennifer Garczewski handled the case.

Old Crime Results in Conviction 

An 18 year old Collier County crime has been resolved, thanks to DNA evidence and now the defendant will be spending the next 20 years behind bars. 

Randy Stodgel, 39 years old from Greenfield, Ohio plead no contest to Attempted Sexual Battery of a Child Less Than 12. Assistant State Attorney Deborah Schwartz put together a plea agreement with the consent of the victim to get Stodgel 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of sex offender probation during which time he will be monitored with an ankle monitor.

He will also be labeled a sex offender and his movement will be tracked and he will have many restrictions on him with that type of probation including not being able to be around children. 

In 1990, Stodgel lured a young girl away into the woods in Naples after pretending to be a police officer. DNA linked him to the crime a few years ago while he was serving time for another crime.

Jimmy Ryce Act Trial

This is not a conviction but a civil commitment case. A trial under the Jimmy Ryce Act ended abruptly when the defendant asked to be committed while in the courtroom in front of the judge and jury. Assistant State Attorney Chris Crowley was trying the case in Lee County court, in an effort to have 32 year old Matthew Hopkins sent to the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia.

The Jimmy Ryce Act allows prosecutors to seek treatment for a defendant deemed a violent sexual predator after they complete their prison sentence, if doctors feel the person could still be a threat to society. A trial is held with experts for the State and defendant arguing their cases.

Hopkins had been in prison since 2002 after pleading guilty to Lewd Sexual Battery and Attempted Sexual Battery on victims 4 and 14 years old. Hopkins agreed to be committed for as long as necessary and will now receive treatment to deal with any potential criminally sexual urges.

Collier County Sentencing

An East Naples man charged with multiple crimes was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Zachary Obannon Smith, 36, received 15 years, the maximum penalty for Lewd and Lascivious Battery and another 15 years for Cocaine Trafficking, as well as a $50,000 fine.  The sentences are to be served consecutively. He also received one year in jail  for Marijuana Possession and received credit for time served. Following his release from prison, he will also be registered as a sex offender. Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca handled the case.

Golden Gate Men Sentenced

Two Golden Gate men will each be spending several years in prison after a home invasion robbery they did in 2007. Christopher Charles Seitz, 28, was adjudicated guilty of Home Invasion Robbery and received 5 years in prison. He plead no contest to two additional charges of Grand Theft and Battery. Mathew Ernes Joslin, 33, was also adjudicated guilty and will serve 3 years in prison on a charge of Home Invasion Robbery. Assistant State Attorney Dave Scuderi handled the case.

Life in Prison

Nathan Diaz will spend the rest of his life in prison after being sentenced following a guilty verdict for two charges: Burglary while Armed and Robbery with a Firearm. Charlotte County Assistant State Attorneys Andreas Gardiner and Shannon Doolity successfully tried the case.

It was a one and half day trial with 8 State witnesses. The trial involved a home invasion robbery in Charlotte County, in which a husband and wife were terrorized while their two young children slept. The jury returned the guilty verdict in an hour and twenty minutes.

Drug Case: Guilty

Assistant State Attorney Amy Wilson got guilty verdicts on all counts against defendant Tremaine Dennis in Collier County Court. He was convicted of Sale or Delivery of Cocaine and Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by 3 years drug offender probation.

Guilty as Charged

Lee County resident, 33-year-old Billy Jo Pezzella-Hamilton was found guilty of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Death for an incident that occurred in June 2007. She struck a man in a wheelchair with her car in Fort Myers and he died at the scene. She fled the scene and turned herself in two days later.

The case was tried by Assistant State Attorneys Zach Gill and Anthony Kunasek. The State had 7 witnesses throughout the two-day jury trial.  Pezzella-Hamilton was sentenced to 7 years in prison. The judge suspended 4 years of the sentence giving her 3 years in prison followed by 4 years probation.

Fraudulent Trademark Sentencing

The Broward County man convicted of selling fake Rolex watches in Collier County was sentenced to 5 years in Florida State Prison for the felony charge followed by 1 year in jail for the misdemeanor charges for a total of 6 years of incarceration. Leslie William, Jr. was found guilty of 28 counts of Vending Goods or Services with a Fraudulent Trademark. It was one felony count and 27 misdemeanors.

Assistant State Attorney Tino Cimato successfully tried the case. Among the State witnesses was an expert from Rolex who flew in from New York City to testify that the watches being sold were not true Rolexes and thus violated the Rolex trademark.

Animal Cruelty Sentencing

An Immokalee man has been sentenced after being found guilty of animal cruelty for dragging a dog behind his truck while he was intoxicated. Assistant State Attorney J.D. Miller tried the case.

Robert Trevino Jr. was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 12 months probation, 50 hours of community service at an animal related facility and he was ordered to pay for all of the veterinary bills for the German Shepherd’s injuries.

Trevino was already serving probation for an earlier DUI conviction stemming from this case. 

Charlotte Co. Drug Dealer Sentenced

Assistant State Attorneys Michael-Anthony Pica and Martina Hedvicek got a guilty verdict in a case against defendant Keith Willis. He was convicted of Sale or Delivery of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent. Willis was caught after selling drugs to two undercover narcotic officers. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Gun Crime Sentencing

An Immokalee man convicted of robbing a man at gunpoint was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by 5 years probation. Assistant State Attorney Amy Wilson successfully tried the case in Collier County court. The judge ordered Ricardo Rene Rodriguez to serve the minimum mandatory of 10 years in prison for Robbery with a Deadly Weapon. The co-defendant in this case, Carl Lloyd James, has not yet gone to trial.

Life in Prison for Sexual Battery Conviction

Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca had a big win in Collier County, after a jury came back with a guilty verdict against a man convicted of two counts of Sexual Battery on a Victim Less than 12 Years Old.

It took the jury only a little over an hour to find Jerry Wayne Brown of East Naples guilty. The crimes happened repeatedly to two sisters in the mid 1980’s. They did not come forward to authorities initially out of fear.

Brown was sentenced to two consecutive Life in Prison terms with a minimum/mandatory of 25 years in prison, plus 50 years without parole immediately after the verdict was read. He is already in prison serving a 5-year sentence for exposing himself to a teenager repeatedly.

The victims, who testified against their attacker, were able to read victim impact sentences after the verdict, to confront their attacker about how he had impacted their lives.

Two Convicted Murderers Get Life Sentences 

Tyrone Carter and Eugene Henry were sentenced to Life in Prison for the 2005 murder of a Lehigh Acres resident. Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter tried the case.

Carter also received a minimum/mandatory of 30 years for 2 counts of Attempted Murder. Henry received an additional minimum/mandatory of 20 years on 1 count of Attempted Murder.

Two Life Sentences for Shooting

Assistant State Attorney Dave Scuderi had a big win in Collier County. Willis Foster, Jr. was found guilty as charged of Attempted Second Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery (with a firearm) and Possession of Cocaine. Foster was convicted of driving up and shooting a man on an Immokalee roadway in 2005.

Foster was sentenced pursuant to Florida’s “10-20-Life” statute, to life in prison on the Attempted murder and Aggravated Battery charges. These sentences will run concurrent. He received time served on the cocaine possession charge.

Foster is a documented Career Criminal with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. All of his prior felony convictions occurred in Miami-Dade County.

Two Convicted Murderers Get Life Sentences

Tyrone Carter and Eugene Henry were sentenced to Life in Prison for the 2005 murder of a Lehigh Acres resident. Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter tried the case.

Carter also received a minimum/mandatory of 30 years for 2 counts of Attempted Murder. Henry received an additional minimum/mandatory of 20 years on 1 count of Attempted Murder.

Life in Prison for Sexual Battery Conviction

Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca had a big win in Collier County, after a jury came back with a guilty verdict against a man convicted of two counts of Sexual Battery on a Victim Less than 12 Years Old.

It took the jury only a little over an hour to find Jerry Wayne Brown of East Naples guilty. The crimes happened repeatedly to two sisters in the mid 1980’s. They did not come forward to authorities initially out of fear.

Brown was sentenced to two consecutive Life in Prison terms with a minimum/mandatory of 25 years in prison, plus 50 years without parole immediately after the verdict was read. He is already in prison serving a 5-year sentence for exposing himself to a teenager repeatedly.

The victims, who testified against their attacker, were able to read victim impact sentences after the verdict, to confront their attacker about how he had impacted their lives.

“The bravery of the victims to come forward after so many years, really stands out. Without them, there would not be a case,” said A.S.A. Maresca.

Charlotte Rapist Convicted and Sentenced

A big win in Charlotte County thanks to the work of Assistant State Attorney's Don Mason and Shannon Doolity. Defendant Daniel Zamot was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 rape of a 92-year-old Port Charlotte woman.

Experts testified during the three day trial, saying Zamot's DNA matched samples found under the fingernails of the victim. The 39-year-old was found guilty on all three charges against him, Sexual Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Burglary of a Dwelling and Grand Theft.

The judge sentenced Zamot immediately after the verdict was read by the jury. The Sexual Battery and Burglary of a Dwelling charge both brought life sentences.

Fort Myers Murderer, Jacoby Martin Sentenced

22-year-old Fort Myers resident Jacoby Martin was sentenced February 25th to life in prison for the murder of a 19-year-old back in 2005 during a fight. The victim was shot multiple times. Martin was convicted in January. Assistant State Attorney's Leah Harwood and Sigrid Sprotte tried the case.

Fort Myers Murderer, Alphonso Williams Sentenced

Fort Myers resident Alphonso Williams plead guilty to Second-Degree murder and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the 2005 shooting death of his girlfriend. Williams was also sentenced to five years of probation following his prison term and he must pay all court costs. Because he discharged a firearm during the crime, Williams must serve a minimum of 20 years of his sentence before he could be considered eligible for parole.

 

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