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Alcohol expert discusses police calls to Land O'Lakes McDonald's in wrongful death trial

DADE CITY — Testimony continued Friday in a civil trial involving a 21-year-old man who died in brawl with another man in a McDonald's parking lot in Land O'Lakes.

Attorneys for the parents of Anthony Makowski contend that the McDonald's had become a late-night gathering spot for people who had been out drinking, and that the restaurant and the shopping center owner should have provided better security. Such security, they argue, might have prevented their son's death.

Attorneys for both sides spent much of the day questioning Donald Schultz, an alcohol expert with a background in law enforcement, about 757 calls for service that deputies have made to the McDonald's restaurant from 2001 to 2005.

Paul McKenna, one of the attorneys for the family, argued about 250 of those calls were alcohol-related. About 40 calls concerned potentially violent situations.

Schultz also testified about his "escalation theory," about how a minor incident can become a more dangerous one.

"There are incidents that could escalate to a more serious type of crime," Schultz said. "A good percentage of carjackings are because someone interferes with grand theft. If they never went out to see why the car was being stolen, it wouldn't have escalated to carjacking or murder."

Jurors also heard testimony from Dr. Edward Willey, a pathologist who described the injuries to Makowski's spleen from the fight, and Detective Jennifer Morton of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, who talked about the level of safety in the area where the McDonald's is.

Makowski was killed April 24, 2005, after getting into a fight with another man. According to investigators, Makowski body-slammed Martin Robles-Taylor, who then put Makowski in a choke hold that killed him.

Authorities ruled Makowski's death an "excusable homicide." They determined Robles-Taylor, then 25, had no intent to kill Makowski when he put him in an extended choke hold.

Makowski's parents are suing McDonald's franchisee Bob Brickman and B & B Cash Grocery Stores Inc., which owns the shopping center where the restaurant is. Their suit says that the 24-hour drive-through should have been staffed with security to keep patrons safe.

Cathy and Wayne Makowski are seeking more than $15,000 in damages. The trial resumes Monday.

Alcohol expert discusses police calls to Land O'Lakes McDonald's in wrongful death trial 06/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2009 8:41pm]
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