Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Behavior after arrest, including spitting on Pasco deputy, adds years to man's sentence

NEW PORT RICHEY — Even before Tuesday, William Melendez wasn't going to walk free anytime soon.

He went to trial last year charged with sexually molesting a woman while he held her down and she begged him to stop. Guilty of sexual battery, a jury decided. Prison for 13 years, a judge said.

But the justice Melendez realized in that case pales in comparison to what he may yet face.

He hadn't even arrived at jail before he brought more trouble on himself. According to prosecutors, that day in June 2009 Melendez, 51, was thrashing and cursing about being arrested. He insisted it was all a mistake. He asked the deputy to let him go.

But sheriff's Deputy Eric Biddle didn't let him go, and Melendez cursed and thrashed some more. Then he leaned his face into the cage partition in the patrol car and spat at Biddle, who caught the wet mess in his right ear.

Charge: battery on a law enforcement officer.

In December 2009, after six months of being cooped up in a jail cell, Melendez acted out again, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"Get ready for hell today," he told a jail deputy who came to do a routine search of his cell.

Deputy Jonathan Krisher ordered Melendez to stick his arms through an opening in the cell door used to slide in food trays so Krisher could remove his handcuffs.

But Melendez grabbed Krisher's arms and held on, the Sheriff's Office said. Krisher sprayed his pepper spray, but Melendez managed to grab it.

Krisher called for backup, and deputies armed with Tasers rushed in and tried to subdue Melendez, who used his mattress as a shield and broke the fire sprinkler, sending water pouring into the cell.

A Spanish-speaking deputy finally calmed Melendez.

Krisher suffered cuts and bruises on his arms and a broken finger.

Charges: battery on a law enforcement officer, times five.

Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, times four.

Depriving an officer of protection, preventing the extinguishing of a fire and aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.

Altogether, the post-arrest charges add up to a potential sentence of 75 years in prison, prosecutors say.

This week, Melendez, who had been a laborer in Hudson, went to trial on just one of them — the spitting incident in the patrol car.

The trial was short.

"This defendant spit on Deputy Eric Biddle," prosecutor Joe Lawhorne told jurors Tuesday. "It really is that simple."

Defense attorney Dennis Watson prodded at the question of intent. Wasn't it more likely that Biddle got some spit on him accidentally as Melendez was yelling and cursing?

The jury thought not. Guilty as charged.

And Melendez, who called the trial a farce and a violation of his constitutional rights but otherwise kept his cool, went back to jail with four more years tacked on to his sentence, courtesy of Circuit Judge Michael Andrews.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Behavior after arrest, including spitting on Pasco deputy, adds years to man's sentence 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 8:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa-based makeup artist disqualified from contest over pro-Trump post

    News

    WICHITA, Kan. — A makeup artist who splits her time between Tampa and Kansas says she won a national contest sponsored by Kat Von D Beauty but was later disqualified because of an Instagram post supporting Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.

    Gypsy Freeman won the contest with this image posted to Instagram. [@facesofgypsy on Instagram]
  2. Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills Florida man who thought he just had blisters from a hike

    Health

    Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire - a 10-mile round trip - and blisters were no surprise.

    Wayne Atkins thought his blisters were from hiking, but the flesh eating bacteria nearly killed him. [YouTube]
  3. Yes, again: Rays blow late two-run lead, get swept by Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As weekends go, this was a bad one for the Rays. In a word: brutal.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger, foreground, reacts after giving up a home run to Texas Rangers' Carlos Gomez during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) FLMC116
  4. White House offers muddled message on Russia sanctions legislation

    National

    WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the Trump administration supports new legislation to punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its aggression toward Ukraine.

    President Donald Trump at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford  at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, July 22, 2017. [New York Times]
  5. 'Stranger Things' is coming back; here's the first trailer

    Blogs

    The nostalgia-heavy, small-screen blockbuster Stranger Things returns to Netflix with a new season on Oct. 27 - just in time for a pre-Halloween weekend binge session.

    A scene from the Stranger Things Season 2 trailer.