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Man charged with DUI manslaughter in September death of motorcyclist

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater man was arrested Thursday morning on charges of DUI manslaughter after a warrant was issued for his involvement in a Sept. 20 crash that killed a motorcyclist.

Simon M. Holmes, 27, was taken into custody more than three months after he tried to turn into his driveway but instead turned into the path of Clearwater resident Mark Nolf, 50, who was riding his 2005 Suzuki motorcycle.

The accident took place at 4:48 a.m. on the 2900 block of State Road 590 in Clearwater.

Clearwater police said the arrest took place so long after the crash because investigators needed to gather additional evidence due to confusion about who was behind the wheel of the 2010 Scion tC — Holmes or the vehicle's owner, Christina M. Gogerty, 28, who police say was in the passenger seat.

"We had to wait for some forensic evidence to come back. There was a question about whether he was actually driving the car. It was registered to the passenger," said Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts.

Watts said the department wanted to have direct evidence, like fingerprints, that put Holmes behind the wheel before charges proceeded.

According to an arrest report, officers suspected Holmes was under the influence of alcohol because of "a mild odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath."

Holmes voluntarily submitted to blood tests about an hour after the crash, police said. The tests revealed his blood alcohol content was greater than 0.16, more than twice the threshold at which Florida law presumes that someone is unable to safely drive a motor vehicle.

Nolf was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition and died shortly after his arrival. He was not wearing a helmet, police said.

Watts said delays in charges in alcohol-involved crashes such as this are relatively common, as tests and forensic evidence take time to process.

"Usually those arrests aren't instantaneous and a lot of information has to be produced to make an arrest, so we can determine probable cause," Watts said.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Man charged with DUI manslaughter in September death of motorcyclist 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:58pm]
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