DADE CITY — Luis Martinez awoke about 4 a.m. to find himself in a stranger's front yard, disoriented and inebriated. A fence had been plowed over. A trailer had been rammed so hard that it was pushed back 3 feet.
And there was Martinez's Ford Ranger.
Martinez, 19, told deputies he didn't know where he was or how he had gotten there. Nor did he recognize the man they had in handcuffs.
Turns out Martinez was just along for the ride.
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A few weeks ago, a man named Joseph Elliot did some carpentry work for an older couple in the impoverished east Pasco County community of Tommytown. Some tools went missing. The couple believed that Elliot had taken them. Elliot, 60, insisted he hadn't.
Early Sunday morning, the couple's 18-year-old grandson, Jorge Zamora, saw Elliot on the street and began hounding him for the tools, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report. "Without warning," the report said, Zamora punched Elliot in the face several times.
Elliot ran home, and as he unlocked the gate, Zamora caught up with him, the report said. The two scuffled before Elliot went into his trailer — a silver Airstream camper at 15128 Dade Ave. — and crawled into bed.
He awoke 45 minutes later to the sound of screeching tires and a crashing fence and the thud of his home being hit.
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Zamora was behind the wheel, deputies said. But it wasn't his truck.
After he had scuffled with Elliot, Zamora walked by a parked truck with a drunk man sleeping inside, he told deputies. Zamora "climbed in and drove it" to Elliot's house, snoozing passenger and all, the report said.
Zamora rammed into Elliot's trailer twice, damaging the walls and the pipes before fleeing on foot, the report said. A deputy caught up with him a block away and arrested Zamora on a charge of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.
"He knows he did the wrong thing and that he should have called the police if he thought (Elliot) stole items from his family," the deputy wrote in his report.
And this is where Luis Martinez, the man who'd been sleeping in the truck, awoke amid the wreckage in a stranger's yard.
Once he had sobered up a few hours later, Martinez told deputies he had been out drinking the previous night at a club called La Onda. He said he didn't know Zamora, and he wasn't interested in pressing any charges over his truck being stolen and crashed.
Martinez just wanted the truck back, the report said, so that he could go to work.