November 16th, 2010

In the early morning hours of November 16, 2010, a burglary occurred at the Checkers restaurant located in Dania Beach, Florida. The burglars made off with the Checker’s safe.  Later that same day, officers from the Broward Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in the Dania Beach community, where a tipster mentioned they would find a safe.  Once at the scene, officers reported seeing smoke emanating from the home and people scrambling out of the house at the sight of the police.  Ronnie Funchess was one of the occupants found fleeing from the home.  It was discovered that Ronnie arrived at the home with a concrete saw and cut a hole in the bottom of the safe.

I took over the case in January of 2012, and although the case was over a year old, the bulk of witnesses had not yet been deposed, and the previous defense attorney had not attended any of the depositions that had been taken. The Judge refused to grant a continuance and set a trial date 45 days away.  Ronnie was charged with 3rd degree grand theft, and because of his extensive prior criminal history, scored out to a minimum of 33 months in Florida state prison.

At trial, I established, through the witnesses, that Ronnie came to the house at the request of the homeowner to do a job for which he would be paid $35.  That job was to open a safe.  Ronnie never took any money from the safe and only requested the $35 he was promised for his day’s work.  I convinced the jury that to the extent that there were no markings or indications on the safe that would show that the safe belonged to anyone other than the home owner, Ronnie was unaware of the illegal nature of the safe.  My arguments were convincing, and the jury acquitted Ronnie.

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