Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Towing employee testifies her boss pushed her to safety

Lorraine Whitehead becomes emotional while testifying Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of towing company owner Donald Montanez. She was there when Glen Rich was shot and killed.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Lorraine Whitehead becomes emotional while testifying Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of towing company owner Donald Montanez. She was there when Glen Rich was shot and killed.

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 jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Towing employee testifies her boss pushed her to safety 02/28/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  2. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts

    Business

    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]
  3. Putin visits France, hopes to mend strained ties with West

    World

    VERSAILLES, France — On a visit likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles on Monday for what the newly-elected French leader said would be "demanding" talks on Syria, the Ukrainian crisis and other …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russia were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks. [AP photo]
  4. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside

    Outdoors

    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)
  5. Clearwater man dies after diving from boat into shallow waters

    Public Safety

    A 49-year-old man died after he jumped off a pontoon boat into shallow waters Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico.