Dave Aronberg’s Office Mishandles Insanity Defense

Tilus Lebrun mugshot from PBSO

The State Attorney’s office for Palm Beach County, run by Dave Aronberg, botched the murder prosecution of Tilus Lebrun, who killed West Boca’s Jimmy Karaloukas at the victim’s Jimmy the Greek restaurant.

Lebrun was just found not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday on all charges including subsequent incidents of felony battery on law enforcement officers.

The insanity defense is governed by Florida Statute 775.027

Insanity is established when:
(a) The defendant had a mental infirmity, disease, or defect; and
(b) Because of this condition, the defendant:
1. Did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences; or
2. Although the defendant knew what he or she was doing and its consequences, the defendant did not know that what he or she was doing was wrong.
Mental infirmity, disease, or defect does not constitute a defense of insanity except as provided in this subsection.

(2) BURDEN OF PROOF.—The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by clear and convincing evidence.

West Boca News obtained a copy of the psychologist’s report that was prepared for the prosecution. The report starts off with the question asked by the prosecution:

“Whether Mr. Lebrun was legally sane at the time of the offense.”

If you read the statute, that is not the correct question. It is overly simplistic. The psychologist should have been asked to address the language of the statute.

It seems clear that the psychologist would have answered yes to part (a) of the statute – that Lebrun had a mental disease. But the bigger issues are in part (b). Did Lebrun know what he was doing? If so, did he know that what he was doing was wrong?

Those two questions are not addressed in the prosecution psychologist’s report. But the evidence shows Lebrun knew what he was doing. The probable cause affidavit reflects a statement he made right after he was arrested:

The unanswered question is whether Lebrun knew that what he was doing was wrong. For that we know under Florida law that it was his burden (or his lawyer’s) to prove that by clear and convincing evidence. This is a high standard to meet for the defense.

There’s a recent example of this in a case out of Orlando, Rodriguez v. State. In that case Rodriguez had the same diagnosis as Lebrun (paranoid schizophrenia) and the insanity defense was similarly based on hallucinations and delusions. The jury found Rodriguez guilty* even though seven defense expert witnesses testified he was insane and the prosecution did not offer an expert witness.

The appeals court noted in Rodriguez that:

the jurors were free to consider Rodriguez’s hallucinations and delusions as evidence of whether he suffered from a mental infirmity, disease, or defect, [but] they were only permitted to consider whether this condition caused Rodriguez at the time of the offenses to not know what he was doing or the consequences of his actions, or whether he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

Due to blunders by Aronberg’s office the victims and their families were deprived of a fair hearing on this important issue. An Orlando jury faced with similar facts denied the insanity defense. Lebrun’s insanity defense should have been determined by a Palm Beach County jury.

*Although the Rodriguez case was reversed on appeal (on a technical legal issue related to jury instructions), Rodriguez pled guilty before the second trial. He was sentenced to 30 years and later committed suicide in prison.

Illegal Curfew Order Starts at 3 PM


Verdenia Baker, the County Administrator for Palm Beach County, issued an illegal curfew order on Friday morning. The curfew is set to take effect at 3 pm today (Saturday). Sheriff Bradshaw made an unclear statement about the order saying that the curfew applies to anyone who is not out for “legitimate purposes” without explaining what might be legitimate. County prosecutor Dave Aronberg indicated that people will be arrested for violating the curfew.
Under state law the county has no authority to issue such a curfew. Section 252.36 of the Florida Statutes, specifically subsection 5, authorizes the Governor (not the county) to take a variety of actions in an emergency. This includes ordering evacuations and in rather vague terms: “Take measures concerning the conduct of civilians, the movement and cessation of movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.” It does also authorize the Governor to delegate emergency responsibilities to local officials.
The Governor’s Executive Order does not indicate any curfews and does not delegate curfew authority to local officials.
One of the biggest problems with this curfew order is that many people may be unaware of the curfew and in particular they likely will not know what constitutes a “legitimate purpose” – the term used by the Sheriff whose deputies will enforce this curfew in West Boca and other unincorporated areas of the county.
The curfew order itself does define what purposes are allowed:

Put simply, we can travel for medical care, work and/or school, and we can facilitate the transport or distribution of essentials. Of course if a deputy doesn’t believe or accept your reason, or is unaware of the details of the order, you might be arrested even if you’re within these exceptions.
Some residents are planning to travel from less secure locations to more secure locations (i.e. from unshuttered homes to shuttered homes), or to pick up vulnerable people and bring them to safer locations. These are not protected under Ms. Baker’s order. In other words, if you drive to Century Village to help a distressed elderly person you are violating the curfew and subject to arrest. Journalism is also not on the list of permitted purposes, a particular concern for us as we are (or were) planning to go out and document the effects of Irma on our community.
Another concern is residents of other counties. Deerfield News questioned what would happen to Broward residents who travel into Boca. They would be even less likely to know about the curfew and its details.
West Boca News recommends that residents stay off the roads after 3 pm today. While the latest hurricane forecasts indicate we are unlikely to face hurricane force winds, anyone outside after 3 pm faces the risk of unlawful arrest by PBSO deputies and prosecution by State Attorney Dave Aronberg. If you’re thinking of suing, they will probably be immune from civil suit.
We did reach out to county commissioners Mary Lou Berger and Steven Abrams, who purportedly represent West Boca, for clarification. Neither responded.

Would Aaron Rajman Still Be Alive If Aronberg Had Done His Job?

State Attorney Dave Aronberg

We have been critical of State Attorney Dave Aronberg in the past. One of the reasons is his office’s failure to aggressively prosecute dangerous criminals, which is the reason for this article.
Aaron Rajman, image from a July post on his Facebook page.

In this case it’s about the death of West Boca’s Aaron Rajman. Rajman was murdered, shot in July in a home in Sandalfoot Cove. One of the men arrested for the murder is Roberto Ortiz. Of course all accused are innocent until proven guilty.
Roberto Ortiz mugshots: Left is his mugshot from a January 2017 arrest for robbery with a firearm. Right is the mugshot from yesterday’s homicide arrest.

Back in January Ortiz was arrested for robbery with a firearm. According to the probable cause affidavit, Ortiz attacked and robbed a student.
Part 1 of the police description from the January Ortiz probable cause affidavit.

He and another man approached three students who were walking home from their school bus stop. The other man had a handgun, and fired it in the general direction of one of the victims. Both of them kicked and punched that victim, and Ortiz allegedly searched his pockets.
Part 2 of the probable cause affidavit.

One of the other victims had video of the incident. Both Ortiz’ high school principal and Ortiz’ mother identified him from the video. Ortiz then admitted he was at the scene and attacked the victim.
In other words, if the probable cause affidavit is accurate Aronberg’s office had compelling evidence that Ortiz had committed a violent crime. Which makes it hard to understand why they dropped the case against Ortiz in less than two weeks.

Our regular readers may remember the case of Brett Knowles, a Boca Isles resident who hit three pedestrians on US-441 near West Boca Medical Center while driving on a suspended license. Aronberg’s office stalled on the prosecution. His office had repeatedly let Knowles off easy on charges of driving while suspended. Their failure to fully prosecute him left a dangerous driver on the road with an attitude and led to serious injuries.
Now we have a case of a violent criminal who participated in a shooting, was released by Aronberg’s office, and then went on to commit murder.
We requested their file on the old Ortiz case and asked for an explanation, though we doubt his office will cooperate (no response in over 24 hours). In the past they’ve told us that they “do not comment on open cases”, but of course Aronberg has already commented on this open case.
E-mail from media relations at “sa15.org” – Dave Aronberg’s office.

It should be noted that somehow West Boca News was not included on the distribution list for Aronberg’s press release. Some people think it’s inappropriate for politicians to play favorites with the media, but we’re used to it.
Other details worth noting from this case:
1. Summer Church was also arrested and charged with murder and robbery. Ms. Church is a 16-year-old student at Olympic Heights High and a former student at Loggers’ Run Middle School. The Post interviewed her mom, who said that she was forced at gunpoint to call Rajman and was let out of the car before they reached the house. The mom also claims that she cooperated extensively with police.
2. Ortiz is or was a student at Quantum High School in Boynton Beach. Quantum is referred to by one media outlet as an “alternative” school. That may mean it’s an alternative to jail for some of its students. The school test scores are some of the worst in the county.
3. Swinton has a reported address in Margate but may live in Boynton Beach. It appears he attended Don Estridge Middle School and may be a Boynton Beach High student. Swinton and Church may have been dating.
Jace Swinton from Facebook

4. The cases for Church and Ortiz are in the court system, though certain documents are not available yet and it’s not clear what will be in the ones that are in process. Swinton’s case does not show up in the court system yet but his arrest record is in the PBSO blotter.
Jace Swinton mugshot from PBSO

Repeat Offender Recklessly Injures Deputy on 441

Mazariegosorellana
Traffic on US-441 was blocked from Glades to Yamato this morning after a serious accident near Kimberly Road. Hector Mauricio Mazariegos (age 31, Coral Springs) was arrested and charged with several offenses.
According to the Sheriff’s report:

P-1 (the deputy) was working a traffic enforcement operation on State Road 7 just south of Kimberly Blvd with several other deputies. P-1 obtained a speed reading of 97 mph on V-1 (Mazariegos on the motorcycle) in a 45 mph zone.
P-1 stepped into the center lane, faced southbound and was waving V-1 over. According to witnesses the deputy had been out in the roadway for more than enough time for the rider to see him and stop. The deputy was wearing a neon green reflective vest at the time. V-1 slowed and tried to drive around P-1, but at the same time P-1 feared V-1 was going to run him over and moved slightly to his right.
V-1 impacted with the deputy, then made a heavy brake applicated (leaving a lengthy skid mark) and overturned. V-1 slid to final rest at Kimberly Blvd.

Mr. Mazariegos has quite a history in the courts, as explained below the scene photos.

Reader photo of accident scene
Reader photo of accident scene

Reader photo showing what we believe to be the deputy on the ground at the scene.
Reader photo showing what we believe to be the deputy on the ground at the scene.

By our count, Mazariegos has had 9 traffic cases (7 of them criminal) in Broward County dating back to 2007:
mazariegos-broward-1
mazariegos-broward-2
He also was arrested in 2015 in Palm Beach County for driving without a valid license. Despite his lengthy history, that charge was resolved with a fine and “adjudication withheld.”
Similar to a case we reported last year, the prosecutors and courts in Palm Beach and Broward County seem to have a policy of going easy on serious repeat traffic offenders. In the previous incident three young males were badly injured. Now it’s a deputy taking the hit.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg is running unopposed in this year’s election so we can expect another four years of lax enforcement. Mr. Mazariegos has probably run out of luck.
PBSO reports the charges against Mazariegos as:

  • Reckless Driving resulting in serious bodily injury
  • No Driver’s License causing serious bodily injury
  • Driving without a motorcycle endorsement
  • Driving an unregistered vehicle
  • Attaching an unassigned tag to a vehicle

Mazariegos’ Facebook page indicates he works (or worked) for Fit Foodz Cafe, which is on Clint Moore near 441.

Hit-and-Run DUI for Boca Del Mar Resident

Galen Kinsey of Boca Del Mar
Galen Kinsey of Boca Del Mar

PBSO deputies arrested Galen Kinsey (27) Sunday night after a hit-and-run accident. Mr. Kinsey stands accused of several offenses including driving while suspended, DUI, hit and run with property damage, and a probation violation. His reported address is in Boca Del Mar near the Boca Raton Synagogue.
Mr. Kinsey previously appeared in West Boca News in February of 2014 for drug charges, where we detailed some of his criminal history.

Court records for Palm Beach show a 2012 felony that was resolved with pre-trial diversion. Broward records show a few cases including two disposed with probation. One of the previous cases also involved drugs.

Kinsey has managed to add a bit to that since then. In July of last year he was arrested on felony charges of burglary and grand theft dating back to a 2013 incident that may have involved the Apple store at Town Center Mall. The burglary charge was dropped and he was convicted of grand theft. For that he was sentenced to a year of probation, a violation of which has been triggered by the new arrest.
Kinsey also had two other criminal traffic cases in October and December. The October case was for leaving the scene of a property damage accident. He was convicted of that and paid fines but had no other consequences. Then in December he was charged with driving while suspended or revoked. That case is still open. He didn’t show up for court and a warrant was issued for his arrest in January. He’s had driving while suspended charges in Broward as well.
This history of repeated arrests for hit-and-run and for driving while suspended with little or no consequences should remind readers of the Brett Knowles case we’ve been following. State Attorney Aronberg has been persistent and willful in letting these offenders off, sending the wrong message to bad drivers in our community. Kinsey is yet another in a long list of people who have been repeatedly let off light and then continue to break the law putting us all in danger.