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Woman faces 20 years in strip club melee case

NEW PORT RICHEY — In the wee hours of June 27, 2009, a brawl broke out in the parking lot of Calendar Girls strip club in Hudson. Men punching women. People being kicked on the ground.

The details of what started it, who was involved and the sequence of events are muddied by witnesses' conflicting memories.

But in a trial Thursday, every state witness agreed on this: Nicole Moore was driving a car that plowed into two people during the melee and then sped off.

Moore, 27, of Spring Hill, was charged with aggravated battery, leaving the scene of an accident involving injury and DUI. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say she was with two other men at the strip bar when it closed. When three dancers walked outside, words were exchanged and Moore threw a beer bottle at them. Then fists started flying.

As more people joined in the brawl, Moore got in her car and circled through the parking lot. She struck one of her own friends, rolling over his leg with her car, prosecutors said. She also hit Grover Cross, a man she didn't know who had been at the club that night, authorities said.

"This case is about a woman who couldn't control her drinking. She lost control of her temper and used her car as a weapon," Assistant State Attorney Chris Sprowls said in his opening statement.

Angela Wright, Moore's attorney, agreed there was a fight that night and even acknowledged that Moore was impaired.

"I'm not convinced at all that you're going to believe that Nicole Moore hit or intentionally hit anyone," Wright told jurors.

Prosecutors called a parade of witnesses who were at the strip club on U.S. 19 that night. Some said the two people were struck at the same time. Some said they saw Cross fly up on the hood of the car, others said he just rolled to the ground.

"Somebody screamed, 'she's going to kill us' and everybody started screaming," Gilmara Barreras testified about seeing the car approaching. Barreras used to be a dancer at the club and is now a stay-at-home mom.

Cross, 46, who suffered knee and hip injuries that night said he zeroed in on Moore's face just before she struck him. He identified her in court as the driver.

Wright tried to show that Cross was impaired that night, refused medical treatment and even initially denied being at the bar.

Gary Sweet, 43, the other man who was hit, did not cooperate with the investigation. Anjelica Harrell, another former dancer, said Sweet appeared dead.

"Her friends picked him up. They threw him in the car and left," Harrell said.

Law enforcement officers soon found Moore at a convenience store about a half-mile away. She was impaired, they testified, slurring her words, crying and refusing to perform most field sobriety tests.

A blood test later revealed her blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the threshold for a DUI, an analyst testified.

Moore initially told investigators she had been the victim of a robbery. But in a meeting later with a detective, she recanted.

"I'm not going to lie," she said then. "I'm not a victim."

The trial is expected to wrap up today.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Woman faces 20 years in strip club melee case 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:04pm]
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