TAMPA — Prosecutors tried and failed Wednesday to delay the early termination of Debra Lafave's probation.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman, who ended her probation a week ago, said he already made his decision. "I'm standing by my ruling,'' he said.
The former Greco Middle School teacher pleaded guilty in 2005 to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery for having sex with a 14-year-old student. Facing trial and a potential prison sentence, Lafave agreed to complete her full sentence, three years of house arrest and seven years of probation. Lafave, 31, completed the house arrest, an accomplishment Timmerman called a difficult one that many fail.
Last week, Timmerman ended her probation four years early at her request. But prosecutors argued the full probation was part of a deal agreed upon by Lafave and the victims — a deal now being broken.
Assistant State Attorney Michael Sinacore filed a motion this week asking Timmerman to stay his order granting Lafave early termination, pending the review of an appellate court.
Prosecutors want the 2nd District Court of Appeal to consider Lafave's plea agreement as a contract. Timmerman says he still has the inherent authority to discharge a probationer, no matter what was in the minds of those who entered into the deal.
"It's an important issue," Sinacore said, "not just in the circuit but in the state."
No case law exists that squarely addresses whether parties can contract away the right to have early termination, Sinacore said.
Said Judge Timmerman: "This may be the case that settles it."