Appeals Court backs decision to toss verdict
An appeals court has upheld a decision last year by Circuit Judge Susan Gardner throwing out the verdict in a wrongful death case brought by the parents of a man who died in a McDonald's parking lot brawl. A jury last year awarded Wayne and Cathy Makowski $1 million, finding that the franchise owner of the Land O'Lakes McDonald's and the shopping center where it sits on U.S. 41 were negligent in allowing an unsafe environment at the 24-hour drive-through. But in granting a new trial, the judge said the evidence supported the defendants, who contended that the death was the result of grown men drinking alcohol and making bad decisions. Anthony Makowski, 21, died April 24, 2005, after getting into an argument with another patron, Martin Robles-Taylor. The argument turned into a brawl, and Makowski was suffocated in a choke hold. Gardner said she erred in deciding before the trial that Robles-Taylor would not be listed on the verdict form as one of the parties jurors could blame for the death.
Purse thief forces way into home
Authorities were searching Wednesday for a man who pushed his way into an 82-year-old woman's home and stole her purse before fleeing. The man, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and a white cloth over his face, knocked on the door of the woman's mobile home on Costa Drive shortly after 3 p.m., said Kevin Doll, a spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. The man forced his way inside, and the woman ran out the back door, screaming for help, Doll said. The woman was not injured. Anyone with information may call the Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711. Anonymous tips can be left toll-free at 1-800-706-2488.
After arrest, drug charges dropped
Prosecutors have dropped drug charges against a man who was found with six guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 3 grams of marijuana and $12,000 worth of painkillers in his Zephyrhills home in June. Assistant State Attorney Michelle Lavender said many of the pills, which were locked up in a safe, had been legally prescribed to Jason Rialmo's girlfriend and to his mother. Rialmo of 3109 Bohannon Road still faces charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. He remains in the Pasco County jail with no bail on those charges, plus probation violation.
A detailed list of obituaries is published in Section B.