State Attorney Stalls on Hit-and-Run

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Dave Aronberg (above left), the State Attorney for Palm Beach County is stalling on a hit-and-run case involving alleged driver Brett Knowles (right, 30) of Boca Isles North. We spoke with Natalie Cruz and Mike Edmonson from Aronberg’s office. So far they have refused to provide any documents or answer any substantive questions about the case.
Back in September there was a serious car accident on 441 in front of West Boca Medical Center (across from Target) where three pedestrians were hit by a driver who then fled the scene. We reported on the accident at the time and followed up in October regarding the fact that the alleged driver had not been charged yet.
After 60 days the Sheriff sent us a copy of the crash report, which is at the bottom of this article. One brief excerpt from it is below:
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The Sheriff also provided a narrative from one of deputies or investigators. The full narrative is at bottom, but here are some key excerpts:

Upon arrival to XXXXX Preserve Drive. I observed a Brown Nissan Murano with major front end damage baring FL tag XXXXXX to be properly parked in the driveway of the above listed residence. The vehicle damage appeared to be consistent with injuries sustained by the victims. The hood had sustained major damage in the center and had a direct impact point crack in the windshield that was consistent with the size of the victims head …
While at the residence, Brett began to make excited utterance statements to me stating that “he was going to come back, and he just wanted to tell his parents what he did.” He then made another statement to me stating that “he was driving the vehicle and he wants to know if everyone is alive and ok.” These statements were all made without any questions being asked. …
Based on the aforementioned to include the utterance and unprovoked admissions made by Brett Knowles, witness statements, severity of injuries and evidence left at the scene of the crash, probable cause exists that Knowles was the driver … at the time of the crash. Knowles is therefore being charged with three counts of leaving the scene of a traffic crash with injuries …. It should be noted that two of the pedestrians … had sustained serious bodily injuries each as a result of the collision. Knowles is also being charged with one count for driving with a suspended license with knowledge ….
This case will be forwarded to the Palm Beach County State’s Attorneys Office for further review.

In short it appears that the Sheriff provided sufficient evidence for the State Attorney to go forward with prosecution. But no charges have been filed yet well over two months later.
We previously pointed out that Mr. Knowles has a substantial history in the courts with over 40 cases including multiple charges for driving with a suspended license. The State Attorney and Sheriff have allowed his repeat offenses to be filed as first offenses, reducing the consequences Mr. Knowles would have faced. Aronberg’s spokesman, Edmonson, refused to comment on that.
Edmonson and Cruz refused to provide us with any documents from the case claiming that it’s “an active investigation”, which is an exception to Florida’s Sunshine Laws. This struck us as odd since it appears PBSO completed its investigation well over a month before our conversation, but they stood by that refusal.
We also previously covered Mr. Knowles joking about “leaving the scene” on Facebook:
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That is something prosecutors could potentially use as a further admission.
Shortly after making that joke, Mr. Knowles was yet again ticketed on October 23rd for driving with a suspended license. Yet again it was not treated as a repeat offense. And as we see so frequently, the prosecutors dropped the charges.
It should be apparent to our readers that Mr. Knowles likely continues to drive on our roads. State Attorney Aronberg appears unconcerned about the threat that poses to the residents of West Boca and the rest of the county and South Florida.
We contacted the State Attorney again today to see if they have any further comment. So far we have received no response.


Crash report:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/14121902-Crash-Report.pdf”]
PBSO Narrative:

I responded to the residence of 19424 Preserve Drive in unincorporated Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida in regards an investigation involving a hit and run traffic crash with injuries. I was notified by Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office dispatch that they received a 911 phone call from witness, later identified as XXXXXX stating a Nissan Murano baring Florida tag “941VJN” had hit three pedestrians on the side of the roadway. This incident occurred in the area of 21644 South State Road 7, which is located just south of Glades Road. It was discovered that the vehicle that was seen leaving the crash scene had a registration address of 19424 Preserve Drive. Boca Raton, FL. 33498.
Upon arrival to 19424 Preserve Drive. I observed a Brown Nissan Murano with major front end damage baring FL tag “941VJN” to be properly parked in the driveway of the above listed residence. The vehicle damage appeared to be consistent with injuries sustained by the victims. The hood had sustained major damage in the center and had a direct impact point crack in the windshield that was consistent with the size of the victims head, showing were the victim Victor Carneiro Brito’s head was struck. While outside the residence, I could hear three subjects arguing while walking exiting the front door of the residence. When I walked over to the front door, I observed a white male later identified as Brett Knowles to be wearing a white tee shirt with shorts and no shoes arguing with his mother. Knowles was identified verbally, and was not the registered owner of the vehicle.
While at the residence, Brett began to make excited utterance statements to me stating that “he was going to come back, and he just wanted to tell his parents what he did.” He then made another statement to me stating that “he was driving the vehicle and he wants to know if everyone is alive and ok.” These statements were all made without any questions being asked. I detained Brett by placing him into handcuffs which were checked for proper fitting and double locked. Photographs of the scene were taken by Investigator Robert Stephan (ID 7240) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Vehicle Homicide Investigations Unit. The crash investigation report was conducted by Deputy Sheriff Terry Drake (ID 5310) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
I then read Brett his Miranda warnings which he understood but did not want to talk to me. After conducting my investigation at the residence Brett was taken out of hand cuffs and release on scene.
Sworn written statements were also provided by witnesses to include, XXXXXXXX. XXXXXXX had observed the traffic crash in front of her and observed the Nissan/ Morano leave the scene. XXXXXXXX called 911 and provided PBSO dispatch with pertinent information to include the vehicle make, model and tag. See sworn statement for further.
On September 30, 2014, Investigator Ken Noel (ID 7660) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office DUI Enforcement Unit and I met with Marco Barreto, who was one of three victims from the hit and run traffic crash. While at Marco’s residence, with his mother present, a taped and a written statement were provided about what had happened on the night of September 19, 2014. Marco told me that he was skateboarding to the Shadowood Movie Plaza located at Glades Road and State Road 7 with two other friends Daniel Palmer and Victor Carneiro Brito. He said they were traveling from SW 3rd Street heading north on State Road 7, in unincorporated Boca Raton, Florida. He then said they were just about north of Palmetto Park Road when they decided to walk the rest of the way. Marco told me that while they were walking he heard tires screeching, and when he looked backwards he saw really bright headlights. He then stated that he was then struck by the vehicle and was impacted so hard he went flying in the air and landed on his back in about the middle lane of State Road 7. During the interview, Marco stated that as a result of the crash he had a broken right femur, broken nose, broken right ring finger, and multiple road rash injuries on his entire body. Finally Marco ended the interview by saying that due to this incident his dreams of joining the United States Army have been dismantled. Due to the traumatic injuries he sustained, Marco will no longer be able to join the military. Attempts to interview Brito and Palmer were made on several attempts; however, yielded with negative results.
Based on the aforementioned to include the utterance and unprovoked admissions made by Brett Knowles, witness statements, severity of injuries and evidence left at the scene of the crash, probable cause exists that Knowles was the driver of the Nissan/ Murano at the time of the crash. Knowles is therefore being charged with three counts of leaving the scene of a traffic crash with injuries F.S.S. 316.027(1)(A). It should be noted that two of the pedestrians, Barreto and Brito had sustained serious bodily injuries each as a result of the collision. Knowles is also being charged with one count for driving with a suspended license with knowledge F.S.S. 322.34(2). This case will be forwarded to the Palm Beach County State’s Attorneys Office for further review.

Author: Warren Redlich

Warren Redlich is a real estate agent and an attorney. He focuses on selling homes in West Boca Raton. Find out more at Yes Boca Real Estate.