A new lawyer has joined Clearwater parking lot shooter Michael Drejka’s defense team as the cast of attorneys in the manslaughter case continue to shift in what has become its own sideshow outside the courtroom.
St. Petersburg lawyer William Flores, who was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2014, signed on Friday to the team that includes veteran defense attorneys John Trevena and Bryant Camareno, according to court records. He said Wednesday he joined the case as a third chair to learn from Trevena, whom he called a mentor, and to gain experience doing criminal defense work.
“To work on a case of this magnitude, it’s a good thing for me,” said Flores, 32, “and it’s a good thing for Mr. Drejka to have another set of eyes.”
Flores said he has mainly worked on personal injury cases. He graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2014 and returned to earn his Master of Laws in Advocacy. Last year, he served as president of the Pinellas County Trial Lawyers Association.
He is also representing Drejka in an eviction case filed by the owner of a home in Clearwater where Drejka lived with his wife at the time of the July shooting. Court documents show the couple owes $900 in rent that was due Dec. 1. It's unclear whether Drejka still lives at 1116 Charles St., which is owned by Jason Kuehn. In September, Drejka's lawyers said their client was moving and asked that his new address be kept secret out of concern for his safety. The judge agreed to do so.
Flores declined to comment on whether Drejka still lives at the Clearwater home. Kuehn could not be reached for comment.
Prosecutors charged Drejka with manslaughter three weeks after he shot and killed 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton during a July 19 argument over a parking space. McGlockton had shoved Drejka to the ground in the moments before the shooting. The case ignited a debate over self-defense as Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that he couldn't arrest Drejka because of Florida's stand your ground law.
The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office filed the manslaughter charge Aug. 13. Since then, Drejka’s defense attorneys have been making headlines on their own.
The day after Drejka's arrest, Lysa Clifton emerged from the Pinellas County jail and told reporters she had signed on to represent him during a cold call visit to the jail. The unusual encounter caught the attention of the Bar, which opened an investigation into possible professional solicitation — generally considered a no-no for lawyers.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida Bar investigating one of stand your ground shooter's lawyers
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: One of Michael Drejka’s three lawyers removes herself from case
In October, Clifton withdrew from the case with a court filing that cited "irreconcilable differences." Less than a month later, Tampa police arrested her on a DUI charge. Clifton said at the time she was eating at the wheel, not drunk. The case is still ongoing, records show.
Flores, replacing Clifton in the third slot, also has a recent DUI arrest. Court records show Pinellas deputies pulled him over Sept. 8 after he left Oz Gentlemen's Club on U.S. 19 near Largo. Security staff at the club tried to flag down police, saying Flores refused a cab and was "hammered drunk."
Flores pleaded no contest and was convicted in December. A judge sentenced him to probation that Flores said Thursday he's since completed.
"My main focus is the defense of Michael Drejka," Flores said, "not anything surrounding anything else."
Last month, Trevena aired his own personal drama in a series of court filings that included claims of theft and drugs at the hands of a woman who was introduced to him by former television news anchor Reginald Roundtree. Ethical questions that arose from a close friendship between Roundtree and Trevena discussed in the documents led to Roundtree's firing last week after almost 30 years working for WTSP-Ch. 10.
Trevena backed off the allegations Wednesday and withdrew the domestic violence injunction requests that contained them.
Adding to the spectacle was the arrest and termination last month of a lead sheriff's detective on the case. George Moffett wrote the arrest warrant for Drejka and interviewed him in the hours after the shooting. Moffett faces a DUI charge after Pinellas deputies said he drove from his Riverview home to a death investigation while impaired on Jan. 3. That case is also still pending.
Trevena and Camareno said Wednesday they both look forward to Flores helping them prepare for the upcoming trial, set to start Aug. 19.
“This is a serious homicide case,” Camareno said. “We need all the help we can get.”
Times staff writer Josh Solomon contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at [email protected] or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.