BROOKSVILLE — A number of last-minute witnesses listed by the defense have delayed the highly anticipated trials of two men accused of brutally beating the man known as "the walker."
Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing agreed Wednesday to postpone the trials indefinitely as prosecutors and defense attorneys continue the legal wrangling. The matters will likely be resolved at a status conference sometime in January.
The delay came the same day jurors were scheduled to start hearing the case against Jamie Lynn Tyson, 18, and Michael Vann, 24, on charges of attempted murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence for their roles in the September 2007 attack against John Kelly.
The 49-year-old Weeki Wachee man walked into the hearts of many county residents who frequently saw him trekking along county roads at all hours of the day.
If convicted of the beating, Tyson faces the possibility of life in prison and Vann faces a mandatory life sentence. A third defendant, Anthony Hawkins, 18, took a plea with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony in the remaining cases.
Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said Tyson's defense attorney listed two new witnesses the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to support the eleventh-hour alibi from Tyson's mother.
In a recent deposition, Becky Tyson claims her son was home eating meatballs and spaghetti the night of the attack.
On Monday, court-appointed defense attorney Frank Bankowitz of Orlando added the name of another man who two other witnesses say wanted to rob Kelly.
Barbee is challenging the admission of this testimony in a court motion. With all the new developments and contradictions in the testimony, Barbee plans to file a motion for the defense to state its alibi in the Tyson case.
John Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6114.