Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Weeki Wachee man headed to prison on battery charge

BROOKSVILLE — A Weeki Wachee man who avoided charges after killing a woman with his motorcycle in 2011 is headed to prison on an unrelated charge.

James Paul Conaty, 33, was sentenced Monday to 16 months after pleading no contest in Hernando Circuit Court to one count of felony battery. He received credit for 341 days time served in county jail.

Prosecutors say Conaty walked uninvited into his mother's Spring Hill home on Jan. 22 and demanded money. When his mother picked up her cellphone to call 911, Conaty snatched the phone, grabbed her by the arm and pushed her to the ground, prosecutors say.

The arrest came about a year after prosecutors decided not to charge Conaty in the July 2011 crash that resulted in the death of 73-year-old Josefa Rodriguez of Spring Hill.

Witnesses told investigators that Conaty appeared to be going much faster than the posted speed limit of 55 mph on Spring Hill Drive and was weaving in and out of lanes just before he entered the intersection at Aerial Way and struck Rodriguez in the crosswalk.

Investigators found a prescription bottle of alprazolam in one of Conaty's pockets. Sold under the brand name Xanax, the drug is in the class of benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety disorders.

Toxicology results for blood drawn from Conaty while he was in the hospital showed the presence of another benzodiazepine called midazolam. Investigators learned that paramedics had administered the same drug at the scene, so there was no way to confirm whether Conaty had a benzodiazepine in his system at the time of the crash and, if he did, whether it was enough to impair him.

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