Articles Posted in Manslaughter

David Muringer appears to live a charmed life.

The Boynton Beach man was acquitted last month of misdemeanor battery and felony false imprisonment charges just short of a year and a half after he virtually walked away from manslaughter charges that could have cost him fifteen years in prison.

In this latest case against him his girlfriend, Robin Green, 26, told police that Muringer began to strangle her after the two of them had an argument and she tried to leave his apartment. She was able to get away from him and called 911. In this new case if convicted of both charges he would have faced to up to six years behind bars.

Although Muringer’s records show him to be a habitual offender based on Florida criminal records with over 80 arrests and eighteen felony convictions since the late twentieth century, the jury returned not guilty verdicts for both new charges after just a few hours of deliberations.

In October of 2010, patrons of a Delray Beach mall called police when they noticed a car parked behind a pizzeria leaking fluids and emanating an exceedingly bad odor. When police arrived at the scene they found the body of a woman crammed in a cardboard barrel in the back seat of the vehicle. Upon searching the car, a sales receipt for the purchase of a cell phone was found that was traced back to Muringer.

Muringer who worked as a carpenter was picked up by police and when questioned by them changed his story on a variety of occasions during his interviews regarding his girlfriend Doris Lopez who was the woman identified as the deceased.

He first told investigators that a man named Chile gave his girlfriend a half kilo of cocaine that the two of them were going to process and sell. He went on to tell them that the processed drugs were eventually determined to be of unsaleable quality causing Ms. Lopez to dump it. He supposedly remembered that later that week an unidentified man stopped by their apartment asking for her car keys.

However, investigators had little regard for his account and ultimately found the story to be false. He later admitted that the story he told them was indeed fictitious.

During further course of the investigation, Muringer then told detectives that Lopez went on a four-day bender, ingesting booze, coke and prescription drugs. After leaving her at the apartment and returning after approximately an hour he found her dead. He then told the investigators that he panicked because of all the drugs present in the apartment. He went on to tell them that after leaving her in bed for two days he placed her in the cardboard barrel and dumped her remains in Delray Beach, taking a bus back home after the deed was done.
As the investigation continued, detectives debunked his latest tale as well, and Muringer came up with a final alternative scenario, telling them that she was killed during an episode of rough sex.

This time he admitted to choking her during a sexual episode until she was out cold. He went on to say that he then went out for a while, only to return to find her lifeless body. He maintained that the part of his previous tale, when he told them that he left her in her bed for two days was true; before moving the body to where it was found by police.

But during the week-long trial, testifying on his own behalf Muringer said that it was another man that was responsible for his girlfriend’s death. He admitted to disposing of and the removal of the body but blamed the actual killing on a man named Thomas Byrd who he said was a friend of his.

During closing arguments, Muringer’s court appointed assistant public defender pointed suspicion on Byrd, who testified that his friend originally asked him to dispose of Lopez’s body. The defense lawyer also said the discovery of Lopez’s body alone wasn’t enough for them to convict his client of manslaughter. He was quoted as saying “To convict a man of manslaughter, you have got to bring more than this. Because this is how innocent people get convicted.”

After deliberations were concluded the jury told Circuit Judge Charles Burton that they were divided on the prosecution’s appeal for a conviction for manslaughter. But they did find Muringer guilty of the two misdemeanor counts of unlawful disposal of human remains as well as the charge of culpable negligence. Those convictions are punishable by up to sixty days in jail which literally let him walk out of court a free man as he spent more than that amount of time in jail awaiting trial. As previously pointed out, a conviction for manslaughter carries a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison as a second-degree felony.

The two prosecutors in the case told the judge that Muringer could still possibly face other charges before his release but the judge let Muringer know that if the prosecution does not bring forth any other charges deputies would be setting him free shortly with his only punishment being time served.

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In Staten Island, the Arlington Terrace apartment complex in the Mariners Harbor section of the borough has a long history of violent events associated with its past. On July 1, 2012, Genard Droughn, a resident of North Carolina kept the housing development’s reputation intact. Droughn was originally from the neighborhood but moved away in 2010. However, he often made trips back to visit members of his family.

Just as a jury was about to be assembled in the murder trial against him, Droughn agreed to a guilty plea of first-degree manslaughter in state Supreme Court, St. George, for the killing of Brian Norwood who was found dead in his car at 55 Holland Ave. Norwood and his girlfriend were apparently sleeping in the gold Nissan Altima, when Droughn shot him three times in the parking lot of the apartment complex. A source close to the investigation said Norwood was visiting the resident of the complex, and she had accidentally locked them out of her apartment. The source also mentioned that it was Norwood’s first time visiting Staten Island. Norwood was the father of three children and also left behind an aggregate of seven brothers and sisters.

The police found the victim’s body at around 7:40 in the morning. He was shot in the chest, back, and left arm, according to the same source. He was later pronounced dead after being taken to West Brighton’s Richmond University Medical Center.

There was no evidence that Droughn and Norwood even knew each other and the motive for the murder still remains a mystery. An unspecified law enforcement official said that they were looking into the possibility that the shooting may have been a circumstance of mistaken identity.

However, Mr. Norwood himself was not a model citizen. According to police sources, Norwood had an extensive rap sheet with at least11 arrests in New Jersey including charges of weapon possession and assault, to shoplifting and being in possession of counterfeit Compact Disks. The same source described him as a productive armed robber in his own hometown. “He’s sort of a drifter now, not really staying in one place,” said a another law enforcement official. He sustained at least three felony convictions according to public records. One of which was for a drug offense in 1999, another for aggravated assault in 1994, and most recently in 2007, a conviction for making terrorist threats as well as aggravated assault.

It took law enforcement less than a week to track down and arrest Droughn who fled to Charlotte, North Carolina where he was apprehended in a townhouse, where he lives with his two children and their mother. He was visiting relatives who lived on Staten Island during the time that he shot and killed Norwood.

A neighbor, Caroline Narducci, who was questioned about the latest incident, said “I’m tired of all this nonsense with the shootings. I didn’t see anything, but all I know is that some mother had to wake up on a Sunday morning and find out her son was killed.” Narducci’s apartment faced the crime scene.

An assortment of factors influenced the offer of the plea deal, primarily that the murder weapon wasn’t found. Ballistics demonstrated that it was a.40-caliber handgun. “The certainty of a verdict when weighed against the evidentiary difficulties and uncertainty of a trial, led to this being the best possible outcome in this case.” stated District Attorney Daniel Donovan. Although when a spokesman from Donovan’s office was questioned on the topic of problems with proof, he declined to comment further.

Droughn’s attorney stated that the negotiated sentence and plea was “a fair disposition considering all of the facts and circumstances of the case.”

Based on the terms of the plea agreement, Droughn will serve thirteen years in prison. At the end of that term he will submit to an additional period of five-years of supervised release. He will be sentenced later this week on Oct. 9.

As previously mentioned, the neighborhood itself has been a focal point of many violent episodes throughout the years. Last September, Samyah Bailey, was shot in the left eye by a fragment of a stray bullet. She was 22 months old at the time of the incident. In September 2010 Jerome Mitchell, 23, suffered gunshot wounds when he was shot in the lobby of the same building where this most recent shooting took place; 55 Holland Ave., and in November 2009 Jermaine Dickerson, 37 was also killed within the confines of the complex; similarly in a parking lot.

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The nuptials were set for this coming Saturday in Pearl River in the same Church where their wedding service was to be held. But instead of exchanging vows, Brian Bond observed as Lindsey Stewart’s dark colored casket was taken off the altar and placed into a waiting hearse after the ceremony at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church just a few weeks before the two were to be wed.

During the service, the Rev. John Havrilla urged the attendees to pray for the families of “two beautiful young people whose lives were filled with hope and dreams, and that has been snuffed away.”

The Rockland County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the accident where a 21-foot Stingray speedboat, out for a night of fun, collided with a construction barge that was secured on the Hudson River carrying construction materials for the $3.9 billion project to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Bond and Stewart were thrown upon impact and their bodies were found on separate days during the search for the two missing passengers. The barge was one of many that were moored for the project. In addition to carrying his 30-yearl old wife-to-be, the boat was also packed with most of their wedding party.

Stewart’s mother, Carol Stewart Kosik, told a crowd of nearly 200 people that “Next Saturday I was supposed to be sitting there and Lindsey was supposed to be up here,” as she mourned the death of her daughter after the ceremony. The July 26 late-night collision also was responsible for the death of Mark Lennon, who was to be the best man.

One of the friends, 35-year-old Jojo John of Nyack was driving the boat when the collision transpired. Sheriff’s Department Chief William Barbera said that John, of Nyack was charged with vehicular manslaughter and three counts of vehicular assault. The Chief suggested that there was probable cause to believe the driver may have been operating the vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and may face further charges. John was also injured and hospitalized along with the three remaining occupants of the boat. He was arraigned in his Nyack Hospital bed.

All of the victims’ families were quick to submit to investigators that the passengers on the boat “had consumed very little alcohol and considered themselves sober.” Stewart’s and Lennon’s families also said in the statement, “Compounding our agony is the rush, by some, to cast blame on or even malign the victims.”

All of the occupants of the boat have stated to police that there were no lights displayed on the barge and no one saw it before the boat crashed into it. The families of the victims publicly requested that any Hudson River boaters who may have been in the area to submit to authorities any information they may have in regard to the barges in that area, describing if they were properly lit. John’s attorney said he was also conducting an independent investigation and asked boaters and witnesses to contact him at tzbarge@gmail.com, a mailbox that was set up for research regarding this case.

The NY State Thruway Authority and the Coast Guard, has maintained that the barge was properly lit. However, additional lighting was added after the crash.

Unfortunately, Mr. John’s previous record may weigh against him.

According to the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Mr. John has a history of drug arrests and was previously sentenced to community service and probation. He was charged with drug possession in 2009 and drug-related conspiracy in 2010.

But Sheryl Palacio, 35, of Valley Cottage, N.Y., a friend of both John and Brian Bond defended him saying he “would never, ever want to put his friends in danger.” Ms. Palacio assisted in the search effort. She went on to describe John as a “jovial, loving person.”

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An apparent case of road-rage escalated to the shooting of an off-duty federal Customs and Border Protection agent when the agent followed the suspect pulling his car into a post office parking lot. The agent was killed as a result of the shooting.

James Patrick Wonder, 69, a retired Miramar man allegedly shot and killed Donald Pettit after an intense argument as the two men were driving in Pembroke Pines back in 2008.

Court officials returned to the post office crime scene on Monday, located at Pines Boulevard and Dykes Road.

According to the police report, on the morning of Aug. 5, 2008, Wonder and Pettit got into a shouting match, pointing fingers at each other while driving in the vicinity. Pettit, who was 52 at the time and who worked as a polygrapher for the agency, then got out of his car to confront Wonder in the parking lot. It was then, when Petit left his vehicle, that Wonder shot the agent once in the head.

Originally, authorities wanted to charge Wonder with premeditated first degree murder. However he has since been indicted on manslaughter charges by a Florida grand jury. He was then released after posting bond in the amount of $10,000.00. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted
Wonder’s defense lawyers argue that he is immune from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. They have stated that Wonder feared for his life as the larger, younger and stronger man walked quickly toward him, yelling “Who do you think you are, slick?”
Wonder has claimed self-defense since his arrest, and his lawyers have given a low profile of his actions since the shooting occurred. However, records show that Wonder fled the scene and kept a dialysis appointment forty minutes later in Miramar. The next day, he greased his hair, making it appear darker, and then rented a car instead of using his own so he would not be seen in the vehicle described by Pettit’s 12-year-old daughter. Pettit’s daughter witnessed the road rage incident and overheard the shooting.

The prosecution submits that Wonder was angry and not in fear for his life.

Last Tuesday, in opening statements before Broward Circuit Judge Bernard Bober, Assistant State Attorney Michelle Boutros said “the Stand Your Ground defense should not be applied merely because Wonder says he felt threatened. It’s not what Wonder would believe,” she said. “It’s what a reasonable person would believe. Not an angry person.”

Boutros’ comments raised the probability that prosecutors will count on the testimony of nurses at the kidney dialysis center in Davie, where Wonder was arrested the following day. According to the nurses, Wonder confessed to having anger management issues, investigators said.

Wonder’s self-defense claim is relying on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which states that individuals who are following the law have no duty to retreat in the face of a threat, and that those individuals may meet force with force if they believe it is necessary to protect themselves or another, or to prevent a forcible felony.

In a Stand Your Ground case, a judge listens to the evidence without a jury present and decides whether it is likely that the defendant was acting to prevent death or grievous bodily harm to himself or another person in an area he had the right to be. If the defense succeeds, the judge will usually dismiss the case.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law came into the National spotlight when police became the target of anger and protest for initially failing to arrest George Zimmerman after he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

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