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. Companies, governments assess damage from latest malware attack


    PARIS — Companies and governments around the world on Wednesday counted the cost of a software epidemic that has disrupted ports, hospitals and banks. Ukraine, which was hardest hit and where the attack likely originated, said it had secured critical state assets — though everyday life remained affected, …

  2. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque


    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November


    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  4. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  5. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system


    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]