Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Civil trial begins in 2005 death of man outside McDonald's in Land O'Lakes

DADE CITY — Anthony Makowski died on April 24, 2005, after an early-morning brawl in a McDonald's parking lot in Land O'Lakes. The 21-year-old got into an argument with another patron in the drive-through lane and that erupted into a violent blur of body slams and punches.

Now, as Makowski's parents come to court to pursue justice for their son's death, one person is not here: Martin Robles-Taylor, the other man involved in the fatal fight.

Robles-Taylor was investigated by the authorities, who ruled Makowski's death an "excusable homicide." The 25-year-old, they said, had no intent to kill Makowski when he put him in an extended choke hold.

Makowski's parents, never satisfied with that outcome, sued the owners of the McDonald's restaurant and the shopping center where it sits on U.S. 41, alleging negligent security at the 24-hour drive-through.

The wrongful-death suit against McDonald's operator Brickman Management Co. and shopping center owner B&B Cash Grocery Stores Inc. is under way this week.

Cathy and Wayne Makowski are seeking more than $15,000 in damages.

"Despite knowledge of prior criminal acts on or about the premises as well as in the vicinity of the McDonald's, both defendants provided no security services to either deter or prevent criminal acts such as what was experienced by Makowski," the lawsuit states.

But in court Monday morning, an attorney for Bob Brickman, who owns the McDonald's franchise, gave another characterization.

"We're here because Mr. Robles doesn't have money to pay," attorney Bryant Blevins said. "I think everybody knows that.

"The reason (these business owners) are sitting here is because Mr. Robles isn't a millionaire. Their client knows Mr. Robles caused their son's death. Where is he?"

Curt Obront, an attorney for the Makowskis, dismissed those remarks as "empty chair" and "deep pockets" kind of arguments, and called them "egregious."

Impatience in line

The fatal incident, which drew nationwide curiosity for its tragic peculiarity and which was documented on Web sites such as, started with four men waiting in line at the all-night drive-through. According to witnesses, honks were exchanged during the long wait, and so were profanities.

Makowski and friend Rick Hoadley, then 21, sat in a black 2000 Toyota pickup. Ahead of them were Robles-Taylor and Samuel Wenzel Jr., then 21, in a silver Honda SUV.

When Robles-Taylor paid and got his food, he pulled up and parked, documents say. Soon, Makowski and Hoadley pulled up beside them.

A grainy surveillance video of the altercation depicts what came next. Authorities said it shows Makowski, a 6-4, 270-pound former high school football player, charging Robles-Taylor, body-slamming him at least once and battering him on the ground. That's when Robles-Taylor, who had been through basic training in the Army, managed to put Makowski in a choke hold.

While lamenting that no one pulled Robles-Taylor off Makowski, prosecutors decided a couple of years ago that the video evidence didn't support criminal charges.

The civil case is moving at a slow, contentious pace. The two sides argued 57 pretrial motions before Circuit Judge Susan Gardner in a marathon hearing last week.

On Monday morning, they quibbled over tables in the courtroom and which lines from witness depositions to exclude.

Jury selection began Monday afternoon. The trial is expected to last more than a week.

Civil trial begins in 2005 death of man outside McDonald's in Land O'Lakes 06/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. CIA chief: Intel leaks on the rise amid 'worship' of leakers


    WASHINGTON — CIA director Mike Pompeo says he thinks disclosure of America's secret intelligence is on the rise, fueled partly by the "worship" of leakers like Edward Snowden.

    CIA director Mike Pompeo said the U.S. must redouble its efforts to stop information from leaking.
  2. ABC Racing kennel advances three into semifinals


    ST. PETERSBURG — The maiden voyage by Don Burk into the $30,000 St. Petersburg Derby series — his first as the ABC Racing kennel owner — went as easy as ABC.

  3. Why Grenfell tower burned: Regulators put cost before safety


    The doorbell woke Yassin Adam just before 1 a.m. A neighbor was frantically alerting others on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower about a fire in his apartment. "My fridge blew up," the man shouted.

    At least 79 people were killed in the fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment building in London, and the toll is expected to rise.
  4. Bullpen melts down as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jacob Faria allowed his first two big-league home runs and was touched for a career-high three runs Saturday by the Orioles. Other than that, the rookie making his fourth major-league start did okay against the Baltimore bats.

    The bullpen, not so much.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD118
  5. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101