Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

No prison just yet for Cortnee Brantley, judge decides

TAMPA — Cortnee Brantley will remain free on bond while she appeals her conviction on an obscure federal charge spawned by the 2010 deaths of two Tampa police officers, a judge decided Tuesday.

Without that liberty, she could serve her entire sentence while awaiting results of an appeal that might go her way, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. noted.

In June, Moody sentenced Brantley, 25, to a year and a day in prison after concluding that a jury's verdict was plausible "by the thinnest of legal threads."

"Reasonable jurists could disagree with the conclusion reached by this Court," his new ruling states. "If so, the Court's Order upholding the jury verdict would be reversed and the Defendant either acquitted or granted a new trial."

Brantley was convicted of misprision of a felony for failing to warn authorities that her boyfriend, Dontae Morris, was a felon with a loaded gun. Morris faces a trial in November on charges that he killed Officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis.

Brantley's prison sentence had not yet begun, but her attorney said last week her reporting date was "fast approaching."

The bail order for Brantley came in response to a post-sentencing motion from defense attorney Grady Irvin, who also launched an appeal.

Courts have laid out criteria for attaining bail on appeal. Brantley would face a multipronged test: She couldn't be a flight risk or danger to the community. Her appeal couldn't simply be a delay tactic. It would have to raise a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal or a new trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Preston took issue with Irvin's contention that the appeal would raise a substantial legal question.

Both attorneys drew from Judge Moody's 12-page Feb. 6 order upholding the verdict.

"No closer analysis of the government's case could be applied," Preston wrote.

In that order, Moody said the jury may have decided that Brantley took affirmative steps to conceal herself and Morris from law enforcement by hiding her car after she left the scene of the roadside police shootings.

Such an affirmative step was necessary to support the verdict. Mere silence about Morris' weapon was not enough.

Preston revived Moody's "thinnest of legal threads" quote.

But while he dwelled on the existence of a thread — a verdict supported by evidence — Irvin dwelled on its thinness.

He quoted Moody's use of the word "problem" to characterize the jury's wording on a verdict form. Jurors did not explicitly describe an affirmative act.

Moody ultimately sided with Irvin, saying the case against Brantley involved "unusual facts and a very close question of law."

Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

Comments
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Tampa bicyclist, 52, dies after being rear-ended by vehicle; no charges

TAMPA — A 52-year-old man riding a bicycle was killed early Friday when he was struck from behind by a car in Seminole Heights, according to Tampa police.The incident took place at about 12:15 a.m. Wayne Kersh, 52, was riding his bicycle in the eastb...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Pinellas jury: Clearwater man representing himself is guilty of killing his mother

Pinellas jury: Clearwater man representing himself is guilty of killing his mother

LARGO — A jury found Daniel Richards guilty of second-degree murder on Friday for the fatal beating of his 83-year-old mother.Richards, a 61-year-old who represented himself during his trial, was sentenced to life in prison.On the night of July 17, 2...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

HomeTeam Hot Shots: Male nominations for Dec. 9-15

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male Hot Shots from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Dec. 9-Friday, Dec. 15. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched the stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

HomeTeam Hot Shots: Female nominations for Dec. 9-15

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate female Hot Shots from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Dec. 9-Friday, Dec. 15. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monda...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A..That’s the messa...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago