LARGO — Pinellas lawyer John Trevena was arrested on a domestic violence charge Monday following an argument with his ex-wife.
Trevena, a prominent defense attorney with 33 years of experience, is one of three lawyers representing Clearwater parking lot shooter Michael Drejka in a closely watched case that reignited a debate last year about Florida’s stand your ground law.
At about 4 p.m., Trevena went to the Rosery Road apartment of his former wife, Meredith Trevena, to pick up belongings he said were his, a Largo police officer wrote in an arrest report. They had just finalized their divorce Wednesday, according to court records.
As he searched through the apartment, Meredith Trevena recorded him on her cellphone. The video, the officer wrote, shows John Trevena shoving his former wife back as she tried to take back possessions from him that the report said were “clearly hers.”
Meredith Trevena had a nail mark on her right wrist and swelling and redness on her left hand, according to the report. She told the officer she received the injuries while defending herself. She added that her ex-husband had shoved her to the ground, and, as she was trying to get up, kicked her in the groin area.
Trevena was booked into the Pinellas County jail at about 7 p.m. Monday. He was released on his own recognizance following his first appearance on the single misdemeanor charge Tuesday morning.
Later, speaking with reporters, Trevena said he never harmed his wife and assailed Largo police for incompetence, saying they were seeking revenge against a defense attorney with whom they have tangled in the past.
Trevena said he went to his wife’s apartment to retrieve a $50,000 Persian rug that had been left in his Jeep when he allowed her and her boyfriend to use it in moving her things out of Trevena’s home. “I had set her up at an apartment at my expense,” he said. He and his wife argued, Trevena said, after his wife told him she had traded the rug for heroin and refused to identify her dealer so he could get the rug back.
He called his wife a heroin addict and described the encounter as a “verbal altercation ... never any physical violence except her trying to push me down the stairs of her apartment.” Meredith Trevena did not return phone messages Wednesday. She and Trevena were married in Las Vegas in July 2013 and separated last November, according to court records.
Trevena said Largo police refused to listen to his version of the incident Monday because they were eager to throw him in jail.
Asked whether his arrest will have any bearing on the Drejka case, Trevena said, “Why would it have anything to do with his case at all? “This is a private issue between me and my ex-wife and a police department that is seeking vengeance for all the times I’ve sued them in the past.” The Largo Police Department declined to comment on the allegations Wednesday.
Trevena’s arrest is the latest controversy for a legal team mired in it. Drejka, 48, faces a manslaughter charge in the July 19 shooting of Markeis McGlockton.
His first lawyer, Lysa Clifton, signed on to represent him under questionable circumstances, leading to a Florida Bar investigation. She withdrew from the case in October and was arrested on a DUI charge weeks later.
In January, Trevena made headlines after he filed court documents spelling out salacious allegations against Deena Covell, who had been living with and working for him and his ex-wife. Covell was introduced to him by her brother-in-law, former 10News WTSP anchor Reginald Roundtree, Trevena wrote, also referring to Roundtree as his “former best friend.” Trevena later walked back the allegations, but the Florida Bar has since opened an investigation into allegations that Covell forged a check from Trevena's law firm account and stole cash from clients, a Bar spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
The news station fired Roundtree last month after a Tampa Bay Times report raised questions about Roundtree’s ethics. The former anchor enjoyed exclusive access to Drejka, Trevena’s client, including a one-on-one interview at the Pinellas County jail.
Drejka’s other lawyers are Bryant Camareno, based in Tampa, and William Flores, a St. Petersburg attorney who signed on last month to take Clifton’s place. Late Tuesday, Camareno announced that Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy, a former Pinellas public defender, is joining the defense.
“She approached the current defense team because she believes that every accused person deserves the best representation the law can provide,” Camareno said in a statement.
Times staff writers Dennis Joyce, McKenna Oxenden and Josh Solomon contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or [email protected] Follow @kathrynvarn.