Among the thousands of criminal cases that wind their way through the local court system each year, a handful typically generate intense public interest. Although these cases can take years, they reach a trial, plea or another resolution in time.
With that in mind, here are five high-profile local court cases likely to make news in 2020.
The deadly Bayshore crash
Few court cases have captivated Tampa like the tragedy of a young mother and her child stuck by a car on Bayshore Boulevard.
Cameron Herrin, 20, and John Barrineau, 19, are accused of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia. Police said the teens were racing cars on Tampa’s iconic waterside boulevard when the Ford Mustang driven by Herrin struck Reisinger-Raubenolt as she pushed the girl in a stroller.
It has been more than 18 months since their deaths. In court last week, family members of the mother and daughter asked a judge to bring an end to the case.
“As a victim of crime of this nature, it is very difficult to move forward without criminal justice being served,” said Bob Reisinger, Jessica’s father.
A trial date is set for June.
The case of Curtis Reeves, the retired Tampa police captain accused in a 2014 shooting inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater, was at a standstill for more than a year amid uncertainty about whether he is entitled to a new immunity hearing. Last week, a long-awaited ruling from the Florida Supreme Court said the answer is no.
Reeves, 77, is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 13, 2014, shooting of Chad Oulson, 43, inside the Cobb Grove 16 cinemas. Witnesses said the shooting occurred as the two men argued over Oulson’s use of a cell phone during movie previews. Reeves claimed the shooting was self-defense, invoking Florida’s stand your ground law to argue that he was afraid Oulson was about to harm him.
A judge rejected Reeves’ claim after a two-week hearing. But the question of whether a new hearing was necessary arose after the state Legislature changed the law, shifting the burden of proof in stand your ground cases. The high court clarified that the change was not retroactive, clearing the way for the Reeves case to proceed toward trial.
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A trial date has yet to be set.
Goodson, 20, is charged with manslaughter in the 2017 death of Katie Golden, 17. Golden died from a heroin overdose. The state says there is evidence that Goodson provided her the lethal drugs, and that he did not give her proper care after she went into medical distress.
The case is unusual and challenging for prosecutors. In November, Goodson’s attorney unsuccessfully sought to have the charge dismissed, saying that the case “is one that hangs on a shoestring.” The state countered that there is clear circumstantial evidence that Goodson gave Golden the heroin that caused her to die.
Goodson’s trial is scheduled for March.
Lorenzo, 60, is accused of murdering two men, Jason Galehouse and Michael Wahholtz, on back-to-back nights in December 2003. Both men were last seen at a local gay nightclub. Prosecutors say Lorenzo and another man, Scott Schweickert, lured the victims to Lorenzo’s home in Seminole Heights, where they were drugged, sexually tortured and killed.
Lorenzo and Schweickert were both convicted in federal court of drug-related charges and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. But it took years for the state to build enough evidence to bring murder charges. In 2016, Schweickert agreed to testify against Lorenzo in exchange for a life sentence. Lorenzo was charged with the murders shortly thereafter.
Since returning to state court, Lorenzo has refused to let lawyers represent him, opting instead to handle his defense himself. Much of his pretrial work has consisted of what are characterized as sovereign citizen tactics.
His trial is set for April. If convicted, Lorenzo faces the death penalty.
No current defendant in Hillsborough County has been jailed awaiting trial longer than Michael Keetley.
In 2010, the then-ice cream man was accused in the early-morning shootings of several men who were gathered on the front porch of a Ruskin home. Brothers Juan and Sergio Guitron were killed.
Witnesses told investigators Keetley had been trying to identify the people who had shot him and robbed his ice cream truck months earlier. Investigators theorized that he mistakenly targeted the Ruskin group.
Keetley, 49, has lingered in jail for nearly 10 years while his case has been dogged by complicated legal problems. In 2018, defense attorney Lyann Goudie persuaded a judge to grant bail after highlighting several apparent weaknesses in the state’s case. But with bail set at $900,000, Keetley has remained incarcerated.
Further delays in the case came after the Florida Supreme Court this year changed rules about expert testimony. Much of the Keetley case hinges on testimony from experts in firearms and handwriting analysis.
Keetley’s trial is now set for February. If convicted, he faces life in prison.