Dennis Ward, State’s Attorney for Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.
There have been some developments in the Brewer case, where a strip mall owner shot and killed a 21-year-old who was urinating on the side of the building, a few months ago.
Ward said, “The defense has filed a motion to recuse Judge Wilson from the case, alleging that he has contacts with the State Attorney’s Office because his wife works for us. She is in our administrative section. So that’s a motion that’s coming up that will be heard, and we’ll see how that plays out. As you know, Mr. Brewer is still in jail. There was some talk about filing stand your ground motion. We haven’t seen that. There was a talk about asking for some type of bond reduction. I don’t think that’s working out too well, either. We’re trying to move it forward. We’re ready to go to trial. The defense as you know, I’ve had some problems with various attorneys representing the defendant, but I think they’re settled in now. I don’t know what their goals are here to pursue this case in court, but ours is to make sure that we get this in front of a judge and a jury as soon as possible so we can get justice served for the Hughes family.”
The county had an audit of the TDC recently that showed up in the news.
Ward said, “I went through it and there are some, I guess, concerns that some of these violations may be criminal in nature. We’d certainly have to take a look at it and see if in fact, they are. I’m certain there’s going to have to be a little bit more of an investigation done. I don’t think the clerk’s office are finished quite yet. They talked about pursuing the public relations individual that was noticed in the report having a second business that’s not registered with the state. Some people think it’s a double dipping issue, if in fact, that’s the case. It’s also very concerning about the lack of oversight and management that’s noted in the report, as far as purchasing contracts and various contracts going out to people. I think there’s some laws that need to be followed as far as offering those type of jobs to people in general, companies in general, to have a bidding process. So there’s a lot there that we have to look at. I’ve sent copies of the audit to my senior staff and told them to be prepared to meet next week. So we can sit down and see what we want to do with that. It certainly could end up before the grand jury, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Two teens – a boy and his young sister – have had violence perpetrated on them by three other teens recently. The names have not been published because of their ages.
Ward said, “That’s very troubling. Certainly it’s going to be an interesting case, down the road here, especially because of the age of the kids. Some people have asked me if I’m going to charge these kids as adults or just as juveniles. We don’t have all the reports and yet, but it’s very, very troubling some of the things that were done to the brother in this case and even the sister. It’s troubling in the sense of, where do they get these ideas? People call me and say, well, why are these people still in school? Well, that’s not my call. That’s the school district and the school board’s call. I would hope that they’re looking into it and doing whatever investigation they need to do. These kids are innocent until proven guilty. But generally speaking, when something of this nature happens, those students are usually suspended from school, pending the review. So we’ll see what happens. We’re going to pursue whatever information we get and we’ll present our case to either a juvenile court judge or to a circuit court judge. When you start getting into threats of schools and threats to other people, those are serious issues that we deal with. The sheriff and I work together to keep our schools safe. If we even hear of a threat, there’s certainly an investigation started immediately, and we track it down pretty good. People that make those threats have generally, whether they’re juveniles or adults, are charged with serious crime. So we’ll continue to do that. Our main goal is to make sure that our schools are safe.”
There was a theft of guns recently in Marathon.
Ward said, “A couple of juveniles made it known that they had some guns that they wanted to sell on the street, and fortunately, it got to some of Sheriff Ramsey’s detectives, and they set up a sting and they bought the guns from a couple of juveniles. I think they got a long gun and a shotgun and a handgun. After arresting those juveniles, and we’re going to charge them as adults just because of the whole gun thing. Juveniles and guns don’t fare well when they come across my desk. So one of the brothers came to the substation and started threatening the officers and wanted to fight them, take your gun off, made some threats to the Monroe County Sheriff’s personnel and they were promptly arrested and they were charged. Then the next day we find out that the kids stole the gun from their uncle. So they broke into the house and were there for a party or something and they stole the gun. So now they armed themselves in a house, basically a burglary, which is an armed burglary which is punishable by life. So right now, the uncle is cooperating, but when he hears the penalty involved in this case, I’m sure we’ll hear from him and he’ll have some input, as victims always do. We listen to victims all the time. They have rights as well, but we make the final decision in the State Attorney’s Office in cases like this.”
A bottle was used in a stabbing causing serious harm recently.
Ward said, “Apparently there was a scuffle on Roosevelt between two or three people and somebody had a busted bottle and stabbed a couple of the people involved in the altercation. I think one got choppered out and the other one got sewed up and glued up.”
Fantasy Fest had someone dancing on a Monroe County Sheriff’s Department car.
Ward said, “I think that was a guy from out of town and certainly, he’s going to have to answer to that. We’ll see what the damage is to the sheriff’s vehicle, that’ll be part of the restitution. That individual will have to pay.”
What’s been going on with the possible judicial consolidation between Monroe County and Miami-Dade County?
Ward said, “The Judicial Circuit Advisory Committee has a meeting tomorrow, I think at 10 o’clock, and it’s open to the public, the public can access the meeting. They were going to do closed meetings leading up to their presentation of their findings to the chief judge, the chief judge has to have it to the Speaker of the House by December 1st so we’re getting into critical time here. It should be an interesting hearing tomorrow morning, hear what they want to say and where they want to go. But I think that, from what I’m hearing, that there’s a lot of people on the committee that aren’t in favor of consolidation, especially when it comes to the Keys and Miami. There was some talk about Jacksonville or North Daytona or something consolidation a couple of times in that thing, but I’m hoping that they don’t do anything because I think the system was working pretty good. You hear this 100 times, we’re just saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We want to make sure that we keep our own circuits down here. It’s important for us to be able to handle them down here in Monroe County. We’re taking a stronger stance than they would on some of these crimes up in Dade County. I mean, the sheer numbers up there generally prevents them from doing that. So we’ll see how that plays out here tomorrow. Whether or not (the speaker) puts that on the agenda for the upcoming legislative session remains to be seen. It’s something that you have to stay on top of throughout the whole process, throughout the whole legislative session, because it’s not above these guys to sneak something in on another bill and then next thing you know, here we go. We’re in we’re in the middle of consolidation.”
A Veterans Day ceremony will be held at the Murray Government Center on November 11.
Ward said, “After that, the American Legion Post Islamorada, and the Elks Lodge and the VFW will be sponsoring a barbecue afterwards, outside. If the weather’s bad, it’s raining then we’ll move inside, but we’re still going to have to cook outside. I think it starts at 11 o’clock. So it’ll be a great event. The night before I’ll be part of the Marine Corps birthday celebration November 10 is the Marine Corps birthday at the American Legion Post 333 in Key Largo. So a couple of big days coming up here.”