Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Towing employee testifies her boss pushed her to safety

TAMPA — Lorraine Whitehead saw the headlights bearing down on her and thought she was going to die, but her boss, towing company owner Donald Montanez, pushed her to safety, she testified Tuesday.

With his right hand, Montanez shoved her to the right. He jumped left. And as Whitehead fell to the ground, she testified, she heard a gunshot.

Whitehead, 26, took the stand for three hours Tuesday, concluding a week of testimony in the case. A verdict could come as early as today.

On the stand, Whitehead said that when she heard the shot, she didn't know the driver, Glen Rich, had been hit. She would learn of that later.

Montanez is accused of manslaughter in Rich's death on Jan. 8, 2006.

His attorneys say Montanez was simply defending himself as Rich — a man set on getting his car back — barreled toward him. Prosecutors say Montanez shot into the side window of the car as it passed.

Whitehead's testimony aligned with much of what other towing company employees testified in court Monday:

A group of aggressive men, including Rich, confronted employee Cory Crites as he tried to load Rich's Chrysler Sebring onto his truck near a Tampa club called the Sugar Shack. Montanez showed up a few minutes later. Then Rich took off in his car.

But Whitehead's testimony included one statement not previously broached by any defense witnesses:

She says Montanez had pulled his gun from his holster before Rich got in his car.

"Drawn but not pointing at anybody," she testified during cross-examination.

"And at that time, the car was no threat to anybody because it wasn't occupied?" Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner asked.

The judge had Pruner rephrase the question. "There was no one in the car?"

She nodded.

Whitehead is close friends with Montanez, who still employs her, she acknowledged during cross-examination.

She was paid $800 a week by him in 2007, she testified, and he helped her pay a deposit on an Apollo Beach apartment.

Attorneys for both the defense and prosecution plan to present their closing arguments this morning. The jury will likely start deliberating by afternoon.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

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Dunedin City Commission punts decision on paid parking

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Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

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BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Y...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Hernando Government Meetings for Dec. 15

Here is a listing of public meetings scheduled for this week:MondayBrooksville City Council, 7 p.m., council chambers, City Hall, 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville.TuesdayBrooksville Housing Authority Board Meeting, 5 p.m. council chambers, City Hall, 201...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff to announce findings of excessive force investigation

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Updated: 20 minutes ago

Hernando briefs for Dec. 15

COUNTYWIDEDriver safety programAARP Driver Safety Program classes are available at various locations. The cost for each six-hour course is $15 for AARP members (bring membership card) and $20 for non-members. These classes are scheduled in January:• ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago

St. Petersburg police make several arrests in death of woman, 22, found in alley

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have made a series of arrests in connection to the death investigation of a 22-year-old woman whose body was found in alley last December.Investigators said over the course of the last year they learned that the woman, Taylor ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago

Hernando Bloodmobile for Dec. 15

LifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.Dec. 15: 7:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m., Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St., south of Brooksville; 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Her...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

Hernando Business Digest for Dec. 15

EventsDISCOUNT OFFERED TO THOSE WHO DONATE TO HELP HOMELESS: In advance of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, BonWorth clothing store, 12987 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill, will offer a 10 percent discount on purchases to those who donate unwanted c...
Updated: 1 hour ago