RUSKIN — A man scheduled to stand trial Wednesday in a fatal drug ripoff was arrested Sunday for fleeing the scene after a speeding motorcycle rider crashed into the back of his car, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The collision occurred about 2:45 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 75 near the College Avenue/Sun City Center Boulevard interchange. The crash shut down I-75 traffic between 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Cars were diverted to U.S. 41 and U.S. 301.
The motorcycle rider, a 32-year-old Bethlehem, Pa., man was headed south when he overtook the car and crashed into the back. He was ejected and suffered critical injuries.
The driver of the car, Marquez Davon Roberts, 21, of Ruskin, stopped at first then continued driving south on I-75, the Highway Patrol said. He received minor injuries.
Roberts’ car was located just west of the highway interchange, in the parking lot of a shopping plaza, as it was being hauled away by a tow truck, the Highway Patrol said in a news release.
Roberts, who had called for the tow truck, was found at his home in Ruskin and arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury. Roberts was being held at the jail Sunday without bail.
In a Tweet, troopers said Roberts was “spotted by a sharp-eyed” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputy.
The Highway Patrol did not release the name of the motorcycle rider because of its interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.
Roberts was free on $104,000 bond while awaiting trial on a charge of murder with a firearm in connection with a July 2018 shooting death outside a South Tampa McDonald’s restaurant. The trial is set for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Hillsborough Circuit Court records show.
A number of teenage witnesses, including some in Roberts’ vehicle, said in sworn depositions that both Roberts and codefendant Dontae Hopkins, 19, drew their guns on 20-year-old Nicholas Mortazavi during a marijuana deal.
One of the two defendants fired the fatal shot, police said. Both were arrested months later, in December 2018, and released after posting bail.
In April 2019, court records show, the State Attorney’s Office attempted to persuade Judge Kimberly Fernandez to reverse her decision granting bail and return Roberts to jail. The state’s motion cites videos and photos posted to Roberts’ Instagram account where he and others pose with guns and ammunition. Roberts’ attorney said the images pre-date his client’s arrest and Roberts was allowed to remain free pending trial.
Roberts also faces a charge of uttering a forged instrument in the fatal shooting, stemming from his attempt to buy marijuana from Mortazavi with $700 in counterfeit money, prosecutors said. A fight over the money led to the shooting, prosecutors said.