Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sterner is ruled competent for trial

TAMPA — The quadriplegic man dumped from his wheelchair at the Hillsborough County jail is mentally competent to face charges in a criminal case, a judge ruled at a Monday hearing.

Three doctors have examined Brian Sterner, 32, of Riverview and all found him competent, reports his attorney, Michael Maddux.

Sterner said he also had been examined for any physical injuries from the wheelchair incident.

"I've seen one medical doctor," he said. "It seems like my left shoulder might be shot."

The competency issue surfaced as part of the criminal traffic charges against Sterner that first led to his arrest.

He was originally represented by Largo attorney John Trevena, who raised concerns that Sterner was not mentally competent to face the charges.

As evidence, Trevena filed a time line compiled by Sterner's parents, which showed he had been hospitalized four times since September for mental health problems.

Trevena also shared his own observations. He said Sterner refused to be examined by any doctor in Florida because he felt all of them were incompetent. During a meeting with prosecutors, Sterner demanded cash and a helicopter ride to a treatment center.

Sterner declined to comment on the specific allegations Monday, other than to say that he wasn't the one who wrote the time line.

At Monday's hearing, Dr. Walter Afield told the judge he had examined Sterner and found him competent to proceed with the criminal case, but he added that Sterner may need further care.

Sterner was arrested Jan. 29, accused of fleeing and eluding police during a traffic stop, jail records show.

After his arrest, Sterner was brought into the Orient Road Jail's Central Booking area. A video shows Detention Deputy Charlette Marshall-Jones tipping Sterner out of his wheelchair onto the floor of the booking area.

The incident drew national attention and prompted a public apology from Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee. Marshall-Jones resigned. She was arrested on a charge of abuse of a disabled adult. No hearing has been set in her case, according to her attorney, Norman Cannella.

The release of the video sparked others to come forward, alleging abuse by jail employees. An independent commission was set up to review policies at the jail and to recommend improvements. The commission's next meeting is Friday.

The next hearing in Sterner's fleeing and eluding case is May 13.

Abbie VanSickle can be reached at or 813-226-3373.

Sterner is ruled competent for trial 03/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 3:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  2. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  3. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look


    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  5. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.