Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blood sample thrown out in TV anchor Russell Rhodes' DUI case

TAMPA — A Hillsborough judge has thrown out the blood evidence in the driving-under-the-influence case against WTVT-Ch. 13 morning anchor Russell Rhodes.

That evidence showed that Rhodes had a blood-alcohol level of 0.179 and 0.178 — more than twice the limit at which Florida considers a driver to be impaired — after he was arrested at Channelside in January.

The state will now have a difficult time proving Rhodes, 50, was impaired. Rhodes was not given a breath test.

"This is the only evidence they have of the DUI," said Jeff Brown, Rhodes' attorney. "There's no case here."

Rhodes, who lives in Tampa, was arrested Jan. 16 after an off-duty deputy stopped him in the public parking garage at Channelside on suspicion that he was driving under the influence. The deputy said the morning news anchor tried to walk away twice after being ordered to stay put and surrender his car keys.

When Rhodes tried to run out of the garage, authorities said, the deputy took him to the ground and arrested him on a charge of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence.

His face bruised and bloodied from the incident, Rhodes was taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. That's where he signed a consent form to have his blood drawn as part of a DUI investigation.

But Brown argued in court Tuesday that Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Shawn Morrey neglected to tell Rhodes that he was not required to sign the form. Rhodes gave consent under duress, Brown said.

At the hearing, Morrey said he had informed Rhodes of his options. However, that testimony was at odds with statements the deputy made under oath in March, Brown said.

County Judge Cheryl Thomas granted Rhodes' motion to suppress the blood sample because his consent was not voluntary.

The judge previously denied Rhodes' request to toss out his arrest on the obstruction charge.

The case is set to go to trial on Monday.

Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Blood sample thrown out in TV anchor Russell Rhodes' DUI case 06/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Aquarium curator Carol Audette touches noses with Snooty the manatee in 2001 at the South Florida Museum. Snooty was 53 then. [Times 2001]
  2. Florida Congressmen to attend White House ceremony honoring officers who responded to baseball shooting


    WASHINGTON - Florida Reps. Dennis Ross and Ron DeSantis will be at the White House today as President Trump awards the Public Safety Medal of Valor to officers who responded to the baseball field shooting last month.

  3. Justice Department says civil rights law does not protect gay people

    Working Life

    The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation in a case now being considered by a New York appeals court.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions boards his plane at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday. Sessions is traveling to El Salvador to meet with local leaders and discuss their efforts to fight gangs like MS-13. [Pablo Martinez Monsivais | Associated Press]
  4. St. Pete City Council plans to discuss plastic bag ban

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A City Council committee will start considering a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags at Thursday afternoon's meeting. If it were to adopt such a measure, it would be the second city to do so in Florida.

  5. Ramsberger chosen for Chief Justice Award


    The Florida Supreme Court's Chief Justice presented Pinellas Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger the 2017 Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence.

    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Peter R. Ramsberger was presented the Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.