Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Witness in robbery trial faints; sneaker fails to revive her

NEW PORT RICHEY — Falguni Patel was just a little ways into her testimony Wednesday when it all became too much.

The prosecutor showed Patel the knife used by the masked robber who held up her convenience store in 2009. Patel, already shaking and on the verge of tears, flopped back in the witness chair, unconscious.

Circuit Judge Michael Andrews had the jury taken out of the room. A bailiff called for an ambulance.

Then everyone waited. It was the defendant who finally spoke up, wondering aloud if Patel was breathing.

She was. She had fainted.

Another bailiff brought in a family member, who in an apparent attempt to revive Patel, removed a sneaker and held it up to her face, perhaps like smelling salts. The woman told bailiffs that Patel is prone to fainting and she frequently uses this technique to revive her.

Patel didn't wake up.

After paramedics arrived, Patel was wheeled out on a stretcher and reported to be resting at home in the afternoon. She is expected to take the stand again today.

This all happened during day two of the trial of 32-year-old Morgan Armstrong, charged with armed robbery in the October 2009 holdup at Beverages Plus on State Road 52 in Hudson.

Against the advice of the judge and attorneys, Armstrong is representing himself. He went to trial earlier this year in another convenience store robbery, represented by a lawyer who won him a not guilty verdict.

But in time Armstrong came to believe the lawyer was working against him with prosecutors, and now insists on going it alone.

He was no less suspicious of those in the courtroom Wednesday.

"I'm absolutely positive you people have done nothing but violate my due process," Armstrong declared before reading a long missive on the topic.

When Assistant State Attorney Ryan McGee called a deputy to testify about searching with his police dog for the robber around the convenience store, Armstrong asked just one question.

"Did you find anybody?" Armstrong asked.

The answer was no.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or on Twitter at @mollymoorhead.

Witness in robbery trial faints; sneaker fails to revive her 09/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 6:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: A proud moment for civic involvement in Hillsborough County


    It took private citizens less than 24 hours to do what their elected leaders in Hillsborough County could not for the past three months: Find the moral fortitude and the money to move a century-old Confederate war memorial from outside the county courthouse. Thursday's achievement was a lesson in leadership to county …

    The Hillsborough County Commission dithered for three months over moving the Memoria in Aeterna monument from the old county courthouse.
  2. Fort Myers woman arrested for doing cocaine off iPhone in parent pick-up line

    Bizarre News

    A Fort Myers woman was arrested Tuesday after police saw her snorting cocaine off her iPhone while in the parent pick-up line at a Lee County middle school.

    Christina Hester, 39, faces two different drug-related charges, according to police records. [Lee County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic


    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  4. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law


    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  5. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system


    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.