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A mistrial was granted Wednesday morning in the trial of Devonte Tremaine Ocasio, 20, in the Williston Crab Fest shootings after information received late in the case about Ocasio's arrest came to the attention of his attorneys.
Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge Stan Griffis III granted the defense motion for a mistrial after defense attorneys also waived their prior motion demanding a speedy trial on chages of homicide, aggravated assault and aggravated battery.
Assistant State Attorney Bill Ezell told witnesses and one victim's family after the ruling that "This is the right thing to do." He assured them the case will be brought again. granted motion for mistrial. "It's the right thing on the part of all parties. Any time parties go to trial, more information is better."
The late information was related to ations during Ocasio's arrest in Marion County. He was arrested just days after the shooting.
Michael Bryant, Ocasio's lead defense attorney, said, "A legal issue came up that rsulted in a need to start the trial over." He said the new information could lead to a change in strategy for the defense.
"There was inform that the state came into possession of late and it brought up a legal issue and a possible change in trial strategy."
Bryant said it presented the opportunity to start the case over.
"You have to understand that in demanding a speedy trial it doesn't stop information from coming in," Bryant said. "The proper remedy in this situation is to terminate this trial and retry the case."
It was the third day of the trial and the state was expected to wrap up its case.
Ocasio is accused of opening fire with a Targus Millenium .45 caliber handgun and killing Barry Barney, 36, and wounding five others during the April 27 Williston Crab Fest, an annual event that is not formally organized, but is attended by several thousand people from other cities and states.
Assistant State Attorney Darla K. Whistler said in her opening statement that Ocasio was angry with Daryl Rehm because a handgun he gave Rehm to keep was instead sold.
EARLIER STORY FROM
CHIEFLAND CITIZEN PRINT EDITION (Oct. 31)
The trial of Devonte Tremaine Ocasio, 20, in the shooting death of Barry Barney, 36, and the wounding of four others at the Williston Crab Fest on April 27 is underway in Levy County criminal court.
The jury and two alternates were chosen late Monday afternoon with eight women and six men hearing the case. Over 300 Levy County residents were called to serve on this and two other criminal juries this week, but 76 residents chose not to exercise their right to serve by not showing up.
He faces 10-years to life on six charges in the case, including first degree homicide, attempted first degree murder, three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Ocasio is accused of using a Targus Millenium .45 caliber handgun to settle a dispute with Daryl Rehm, Assistant State Attorney Darla K. Whistler said in her opening statement. The two went to school together and had a falling out three weeks prior to Crab Fest because Rehm sold another gun Ocasio had given him to keep. Rehm was wounded in the shooting.
Ocasio's lead atorney Michael Bryant did not give an opening statement on Monday, preferring to do so after the state presents its case and he begins his defense.
Whistler, using a PowerPoint, outlined what the jury could expect to see in testimony and evidence this week. She included photos of the shooting victim's scars, but did not show any photos of Barney.
She said witness Joyce Gullatte, who was at the scene of the shooting would testify “she saw Ocasio shooting.” She said Gullatte also saw another person, “Cedric Dallas shooting into the air” right after.
Dallas, Whistler said, “is a juvenile who exercised extremely poor judgment and took his dad's .38 caliber” to the festival. “
Deflecting a possible defense argument that someone else shot the victims because Ocasio cannot be tied to the handgun by fingerprints, Whistler said law enforcement officers will testify they heard two different caliber of gunshots and that forensics matched bullets from the victims to the Targus found with Ocasio at the time of his arrest in Marion County. She said technicians even matched the DNA on one bullet extracted from a victim to Ocasio.
She said Rehm was at the festival and he saw Ocasio several times. “He doesn't think much of it, but he is keeping an eye out for Ocasi.” Rehm's brother, Keller Dukes, also spotted Ocasio and warned his brother. In the end, Rehm did not see Ocasio when he was shot. “His brother saw him be shot in the ankle, knee and elbow,” Whistler said.
“He (Dukes) heard and felt gunshots fired,” Whistler said, and like most people he was running away from the scene. “He turned and Ocasio was pointing the gun at him (his brother),” Whistler said. Dukes, she said, “turned back to help his brother.”
She said another witness, Kris Brumfield, was with Barney and he is expected to testify that Barney, although shot in the back, “got back up but fell behind.” Brumfield, who was shot in the foot, “actually ran out of his shoe.”
Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Narayan, who headed to the scene when he heard gunshots and a second volley of shots from a lower caliber gun, Whistler said, “transported Barry Barney to the triage site.”
“When he took Barney out of his vehicle, a bullet fell out of Barry Barney's body and he (Narayan) took possession of it,” Whistler said. Barmey later died at the hospital and the medical examiner is expected to testify the cause was multiple gunshot wounds.
Also wounded was:
• Ariana Brown “who doesn't know these people, ran and hid behind a car, (and was) hit in left wrist.”
• Nikeria Solomon, who heard shots fired, did not see the shooter but was hit in the right arm. “She will have lasting scarring,” Whistler said.
Crime scene technicians recovered four bullets from the shooting and sent three to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing, Whistler said. She said a technician will connect them to the Targus ? which had been reported stolen in Marion County before Ocasio was arrested.
In closing her statement, Whistler referred to text messages between Ocasio and Rehm which carried threats of violence and this final one from Ocasio to Rehm: "You just put a lot of innocent people in danger."