Articles Tagged with Homicide

This article is about the case of a Clearwater High School teacher named Cara Ryan who admitted to the shooting death of her ex-husband, John Rush, a retired Sergeant for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

You can find the lead-in to this blog post on my Website by clicking here

Ms. Ryan was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in March, 2015. Investigators didn’t believe that Ryan lured Rush to the apartment with the intent to kill him.

Her bail was originally set at $500,000 but was cut in half by the same Circuit Court Judge a few days later.

The judge stated that although the evidence against Ms. Ryan was “pretty significant,” her family ties in the area made her a low flight risk. She was released on bail the following morning, about a week after her initial arrest.

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If you or someone close to you is accused of any type of the many serious types of charges associated with a homicide it is essential to consult with knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who specializes in these types of cases at the earliest possible time before or after charges are filed.

Although innocent until proven guilty, it is conclusive by his own statements to detectives that Andres Diaz shot and killed Ricky Iglesias during an incident of road rage which occurred on a street in Southwest Miami in the twilight hours late last month. The single gunshot wound to Iglesias’ chest ultimately led to his death.

A conviction for a second degree murder charge tried as a first degree felony can lead to a sentence of up to not less than 25 years in prison. The prosecution may also request a lengthier sentence depending on the circumstances, including life in prison.

It was more than twenty years ago when Lynne Friend went to meet her estranged husband to pick up a check that was due for child support. After that evening, the then thirty-five year old Lynne Friend vanished.

For eighteen of those twenty years, her ex-husband, Clifford Friend lived his life as a free man and continued with his life. He remarried in 1995 and together with his new wife they raised his son Christian the product of his first marriage. He opened a pawn shop and the couple bought a home in Pembroke Pines. Although he was the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, charges against him were never filed.

But in March of 2012, a Grand Jury indicted Friend for the charge of first degree murder in his wife’s death. Over the years, the case had gone before Grand Juries three previous times but it wasn’t until the latest review that an Indictment was returned.

Back then, after making his first appearance before a Miami-Dade judge, the Lighthouse Point man was denied bail. At the time, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office introduced new evidence that apparently made the difference although Lynne’s body was never found.

Investigators asserted that they had new evidence that was gathered during the course of their investigation stating that they had confirmation of Mr. Friend and Alan Gold (one of his former friends) throwing an oversized bundle from Gold’s boat that was drifting off the coast of Miami Beach in the area of Government Cut. The information was provided by U.S. Customs officials who told investigators that they witnessed the act on the last night Lynne Friend was seen, approximately one hour after Friend spoke with his wife about picking up the payment.

The boat was later searched revealing a quantity of light gauge rope and two cement blocks. However, in spite of a considerable search of the area, no human remains or evidence of a large package or container of any type was ever found in the water or neighboring area.

The prosecution’s case hinged on Gold’s testimony who until recently remained silent. He was offered immunity in the case in exchange for becoming a witness against his former friend. He stated that he promised Mr. Friend that he would never reveal the episode that transpired that night and had no intentions of doing so. But his fear of being prosecuted as an accessory to the crime caused him to accept the immunity deal. At trial, in his own words when he was asked why he decided to testify he told the prosecutor: “Only because you put me in a box and I don’t have any choice.”

Prior to making that statement, during questioning the prosecutor asked Gold if he helped Friend on the night in question by throwing a parcel off a boat into the water. His answer was in the affirmative. The prosecutor’s then asked if he suspected what was in the bag that was thrown overboard to which he responded definitively and without hesitation “His wife, Lynne.”

During further questioning Gold stated that Friend told him that he strangled his ex-wife during a heated argument and he only agreed to help his friend get rid of his ex-wife’s body to keep him from getting arrested and sent to jail leaving their son, Christian without either parent. His son Christian was five years old at the time of his mother’s presumed murder. Gold went on to say “I basically didn’t want to see the kid fatherless.”

Friend had previously lost a long bitter custody battle and his ex-wife was preparing to leave the state with their son. This apparently infuriated Friend.

The two week long first-degree murder trial that concluded in July resulted with the jury deliberating for five hours before returning a verdict of guilty of the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Before the sentence of life in prison was announced last month, Friend’s current wife Janet told the judge that her husband was a good man. “His smile, his guidance and his presence as a father will be missed. I’m requesting you to consider that he had no criminal history and was an outstanding citizen, phenomenal father and wonderful husband.” The couple had been married for nineteen years.

His son Christian, now twenty-five also stood by his father saying that his father was innocent of the crime. “He raised us to know the difference between right and wrong. I know he loved me. He loved too much to hurt me by taking my mother from me. After sitting here for weeks, I have never been more sure of his innocence.”

But Lynn Friend’s former fiancé, Ed O’Dell had a completely opposite viewpoint. After the sentence was imposed he told reporters that he though Friend should have received the death penalty.

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Cesar Limas made his living by selling cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Yet he became the prosecutor’s key witness in a first degree murder trial that led to fourteen months of jail time for Carlos Hiracheta Perez, 29, of Dade City pending trial.

Limas told police that he and another man wrestled a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol away from Perez outside an abandoned house in Dade City after two shots were fired inside the house.

Within the residence lay the motionless body of Arturo Escamilla. Limas told Sheriff’s deputies that after he grabbed the gun away from Perez, the suspect ran from the scene. Perez was apprehended afterward, and detained by Dade City police officers. He was later charged with attempted first degree murder and held without bail at the Pasco County Jail. The charges were elevated to first degree murder when Escamilla died the following day at Bayonet Point Hospital as a result of his injuries that took place in mid-May of last year.

Based on the arrest affidavit, Perez got into an argument with Escamilla inside the house leading prosecutors to contend that Perez was the person who gravely injured Escamilla when he shot him twice in the head.

However, at trial, the advocate for Perez placed doubt on Mr. Limas’s testimony pointing out contradictions in his original statement to police, as well as a lack of any evidence directly attributing Perez to being the shooter.

The assistant public defender argued that at the time of the shooting there were five men inside the abandoned house including Perez and Limas. Perez maintained that he was sleeping on a couch and ran when two gunshots rang out, believing he was running for his life. After Perez sprinted out of the house first, four more men followed and hopped into a vehicle and raced away. This was corroborated by neighbors who witnessed the events unfold. This contradicted Limas’s original statement to police that he and another man disarmed Perez.

A photograph of Limas was also revealed in possession of a .45-caliber handgun that was taken a few days prior to the shooting which more than likely could have been the gun that killed Escamilla. Additionally, members of Escamilla’s family stated that he never had any problems with Perez, but often had battles and heated disagreements with all of the other men in the group who all rushed out of the previously vacated dwelling after the shots were fired, including the prosecution’s central witness.

Perez’s court appointed attorney described to jurors that based on the presentation of the prosecution’s case it appeared they had more evidence against their star witness than they did against his client, and placed doubt in their minds by establishing that any of the other four men could have been the actual trigger-man.
The jury’s deliberations took a little more than an hour when they returned to their seats with a unanimous verdict. Judge Pat Siracusa cautioned Perez and his family to remain passive and quiet regardless of what the results were prior to the reading of the verdict. And they did as instructed, because the silence was deafening when it was revealed that the finding of all jury members was not guilty.

When the outcome of the verdict became apparent to Perez’s mother, with the speaker of her cellphone activated she was overheard excitedly repeating the word “libre”. Translated from Spanish, the word libre simply means “free”.

She next saw her son walking down the corridor that led out of the courthouse, exiting through the sliding glass doors into the lobby where she, his sister and niece came together around him in a mutual hug ending Carlos’s fourteen month ordeal this past July.

In Pasco County, a not guilty outcome in a first degree murder case is uncommon. It had been almost four years since it previously occurred when Anthony Harris was exonerated for the first degree murder charge of killing a drug dealer in 2010.<!–

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