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Family brawl over Thanksgiving feast lands Pasco parents in jail

HUDSON — Elizabeth Smith says she cooked the ham the night before and asked her father-in-law to wake her up on Thanksgiving morning so she could cook the rest. But when she woke up at 7 a.m., she said, Donald "Junior" Smith was already stuffing the turkey.

With celery. Elizabeth's husband, Tristan Smith, is allergic to celery. "It makes him sick," she said. She started crying. Junior yelled. Elizabeth's husband shouted at his dad for yelling at his wife.

"You're not going to step in my wife's face," Tristan hollered, according to Elizabeth.

And then it was on.

The brawl moved into the bedroom, where Elizabeth and Tristan's 3-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter still slept. According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Junior, 49, pushed his son. Elizabeth, 21, said Junior and her husband began fighting. A report says Tristan, 21, punched his dad. Elizabeth said she got in the middle of them to stop it.

Then Tristan's mom entered the scene. Joan Ethel Brewster, 54, grabbed Elizabeth by the hair and scratched her, a report says. "My face was bleeding," Elizabeth said. "She ripped my hair out."

Junior told authorities he was upset because no one was helping him cook the Thanksgiving meal. Elizabeth said she wanted to help — but he didn't wake her up. "It's my family," she said. "He knew I wanted to cook for them."

Elizabeth said Joan was the one who called the deputies.

"She called the cops," Elizabeth said. "On herself."

Junior and Joan were arrested. By 10 a.m. Thanksgiving, they were booked into the Land O'Lakes jail. Both were charged with domestic battery and released from jail Friday. They did not return a message for comment.

In 1997, Joan and Tristan were featured in the St. Petersburg Times as a success story, detailing Tristan's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Joan's struggles to control her son. The article said Tristan, then in the third grade, punched holes in the walls and bullied a family puppy. Joan worked with Tristan's teachers and therapists.

"You can't expect your child to change if you won't change," she said in the story.

Elizabeth and Tristan both have been arrested previously on domestic battery charges. Elizabeth said she and her husband and children have been living in Joan's mobile home at 9611 Rex St. in Hudson for a few months. Junior, who is disabled, also lives there. Joan works for Winn-Dixie in New Port Richey. Elizabeth said she and Tristan run a tree trimming company.

After Junior and Joan were taken away, Elizabeth finished cooking. She still hosted a Thanksgiving meal for other relatives a few hours later.

"It still turned out all right," Elizabeth said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Family brawl over Thanksgiving feast lands Pasco parents in jail 11/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 27, 2009 8:15pm]
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