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Prosecutors who charged Michael Drejka push back against effort to disqualify them

Assistant State Attorneys Scott Rosenwasser, left, and Fred Schaub confer during a bond hearing for Michael Drejka at the County Justice Center. Drejka is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton. [Times (2018)]
Published Jun. 25

Prosecutors pushed back Monday against a court filing in which Clearwater parking lot shooter Michael Drejka asked a judge to disqualify them from the case.

Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorneys Fred Schaub and Scott Rosenwasser filed a court document calling the defense team's request for a special prosecutor misleading and without legal basis.

"Defendant's motion is, simply stated, grandstanding," they wrote, "and an attempt to place the defendant's inaccurate and self-serving version of events before the court and public without having to be cross-examined and tested for accuracy."

Drejka's lawyers filed the longshot motion Wednesday, the bulk of which said that the State Attorney's Office gave into political pressure when it charged Drejka with manslaughter about three weeks after he shot and killed Markeis McGlockton on July 19.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Parking lot shooter Michael Drejka asks judge to disqualify prosecutors who charged him

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to arrest Drejka, saying his agency was precluded from doing so by Florida's stand-your-ground law. The decision sparked outrage, drawing politicians and civil rights leaders to Clearwater to call for Drejka's arrest.

Prominent civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump signed on to represent McGlockton's girlfriend, bringing with him the publicity he received from his work representing the parents of Trayvon Martin. Martin was killed in 2012 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

RECENT COVERAGE: Michael Drejka's stand-your-ground defense will go to a jury, not a judge

One of Drejka's lawyers, John Trevena, argued that the furor created a national spectacle and painted his client in an unfair light. Trevena said prosecutors were bowing to what the called the "Crump hype machine" when they charged Drejka.

"Mr. Trevena's personal opinion is self-serving, purely speculative and completely devoid of any factual basis," prosecutors wrote.

It's up to Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone to decide whether to grant Drejka's request. The case is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 19.

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.

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