Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Victim didn't start fight that killed him at Land O'Lakes McDonald's, witnesses say

DADE CITY — What happened the night Anthony Makowski died?

That was the main question Thursday in the second day of a wrongful-death suit against the Land O'Lakes McDonald's franchisee and the owners of the U.S. 41 shopping center where the 21-year-old died in a violent altercation April 2005. Makowski's parents are seeking damages.

Investigators determined Makowski was the aggressor in his fatal brawl with Martin Robles-Taylor, who was ahead of him in the drive-through that night. Their fight ended when Robles-Taylor grabbed Makowski by the throat and held him in a choke hold for several minutes.

But in testimony presented Thursday, witnesses painted Robles-Taylor as the instigator.

In a statement recorded last year, McDonald's employee Theresa Higgins, who was working the night of the fight, said Robles-Taylor appeared drunk when he came through the drive-through around 4 a.m. on April 24, 2005.

"He just didn't seem right to me," she said.

After Robles-Taylor got his food, she said, he approached Makowski's vehicle with a silver flashlight in hand. Makowski pulled his own flashlight out from under the seat, Higgins said, but didn't make any threatening gestures with it or get out of the car.

Suspicious, Higgins said she kept an eye on the two vehicles as she went about her work.

Later, she saw Robles-Taylor and his passenger, Samuel Wenzel Jr., get out of their vehicle and approach Makowski and Rick Hoadley, who were inside Hoadley's truck.

Robles-Taylor pushed Makowski three or four times before Makowski swung at him, she said. Her view of the rest of the fight was blocked.

Hoadley, Makowski's best friend since middle school, told the jury the two men went fishing that day, then later met up at a friend's house to play pool and watch television.

Yes, he drank that night — seven or eight beers over the course of seven or so hours. Anthony was drinking too, but Hoadley told the jury he didn't keep count of how much his friend drank.

"It looked like he was just casually drinking," Hoadley said. Makowski's mood was "happy, goofy" when they left around 4 a.m. for McDonald's.

The drive-through was backed up. After sitting in line for several minutes, Makowski "tooted" the horn, Hoadley said. They were hungry.

Hoadley and Makowski ignored Robles-Taylor when he approached with the flashlight. The men got their food, and as they were driving off, Hoadley said Wenzel and Robles-Taylor threw trash at his truck.

Hoadley stopped to inspect his vehicle, not to fight, he insisted Thursday.

"As I got out, they were right behind us," he said. "(Wenzel) was right in my face when I opened the door."

Hoadley said he was occupied with Wenzel as Robles-Taylor and Makowski wrestled. He didn't see who instigated the fight.

Hoadley tried to intervene, but Wenzel threatened him, he said.

Robles-Taylor asked Hoadley if Makowski would hit him if he let him go. The cops came. Hoadley said he was put in the back of a squad car.

"It didn't even cross my mind that (Makowski) could be in life threatening danger," Hoadley said.

When paramedics arrived, Makowski lay unconscious. He later died at a hospital.

Makowski's parents are suing Bob Brickman and B & B Cash Grocery Stores Inc. Their suit alleges that the 24-hour drive-through should have been staffed with security to keep patrons safe.

The trial is expected to continue through next week.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (813) 435-7312.

Victim didn't start fight that killed him at Land O'Lakes McDonald's, witnesses say 06/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]
  2. What to watch and listen to this week: Halloween offerings, best spooky podcasts


    Halloween is all about scary stories. The holiday itself is based on a compilation of creepy tales from history going back thousands of years.

    The Halloween kids classic The Nightmare Before Christmas airs this week on Freeform.
  3. Fennelly: Would you take Jameis Winston over Cam Newton?


    Factoring out futures, it wouldn't be a short list if I picked NFL quarterbacks I'd take right now over Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play during the first half of Sunday's game. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Man faces charge of abuse after 2-month-old injured


    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 2-month-old child was taken to All Children's Hospital with multiple skull fractures Saturday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and a 24-year-old man has been arrested.

    Jacob Brattain, 24, of Zephyrhills is charged with aggravated child abuse and was arrested Sunday. According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, a 2-month-old child suffered multiple skull fractures under his care.
  5. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters


    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]