Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tow truck company owner contends he shot man in self-defense

TAMPA — A towing company owner will not invoke Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as his justification for fatally shooting a man who tried to take his car back. At the opening of Donald Montanez's second-degree murder trial Tuesday, his lawyers conceded he may have had no legal right to be where he was when he opened fire.

But defense lawyers told a jury that the towing was irrelevant anyway. The important issue, they said, was that Montanez feared for his life as a 3,000-pound car driven by Glen Rich, 30, hurtled toward him on Jan. 8, 2006.

Montanez "had 2.8 seconds" to guess whether he would be hit, defense attorney Jay Hebert said, pounding his hand three times on his lectern. Hebert said the jury would be taken to the scene later in the week.

The evidence being heard is virtually the same as presented in 2009 and 2010 when a Hills­borough circuit judge and an appeals court refused to throw out the murder charge based on the Stand Your Ground law.

The death was the tragic end to a joyous weekend reunion of three brothers that involved a celebration at a Tampa after-hours club called the Sugar Shack, then an attempt to liberate their towed car before it could be transferred to an impound lot.

On Tuesday, Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner said Montanez was essentially stealing Glen Rich's Chrysler Sebring when he towed it from a public right of way on Bonacker Drive near Hillsborough Avenue.

Montanez had a towing contract with Builders Hardware and other nearby businesses. An overflow of cars from the Sugar Shack had parked along the roadway.

The trouble between Rich and Montanez, owner of Private Property Commercial Impound Co., started after Rich tracked his car to a nearby lot where towed cars were being put on a flatbed truck.

Pruner said Montanez had no permission to use the lot and was trespassing. It was 5 a.m.

James Murray, 30, testified Tuesday that he was with his friend Rich and Rich's two brothers when Montanez pulled out his gun and told them all to get back.

"I saw the red beam (from the laser sight) on my chest," Murray said. He threw his hands up. "I said, 'Please don't shoot.' "

Behind him, he heard the car start and rev up, then a gunshot. He saw the car speed out of the lot. Rich had been shot in the right armpit. He made it to a nearby gas station, where he stopped and collapsed.

Defense lawyer Hebert said he would bring in special electronic equipment that would show differences in sound waves at critical moments.

"With smoke and debris flying at 5 in the morning, he made a life-or-death decision."

Tow truck company owner contends he shot man in self-defense 02/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FWC investigates viral video of shark getting dragged behind speeding boat (w/video)

    Wildlife

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating a viral video that shows a shark being dragged behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating a viral video that shows a shark being dragged behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  2. Cheers, whoops for McCain's return, then impassioned speech

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — In high drama at the Capitol, Sen. John McCain on Tuesday delivered a crucial vote in the Republican drive to dismantle the health care law, a win for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders, and then leveled a broadside at how the GOP got there.

    In this image from video provided by C-SPAN2, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. is embraced by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y. as he arrives of the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. [C-SPAN2 via AP]
  3. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

    Blogs

    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  4. Pence breaks tie as Senate votes to begin debating 'Obamacare' repeal

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly voted Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the health care law, taking a pivotal step forward after the dramatic return of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cast a crucial vote despite his diagnosis of brain cancer.

    Vice President Mike Pence (R) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus arrive on Capitol Hill, Tuesday in Washington, D.C. [Getty Images]
  5. Rubio helps GOP secure votes to proceed on health care debate

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans secured enough votes to proceed to debate on health care proposals, with Marco Rubio of Floirda joining in.