Monroe County prosecutors dropped five driving-under-the-influence and property-damage charges against the son of a Miami-Dade County judge this week, but said in a court document that the teen continuously misled police about the identity of the actual offender who allegedly crashed into three cars in late June and got away.
The 17-year-old is the son of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Brennan. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detectives issued an arrest warrant for the judge in early July on a charge relating to allegedly smashing the window of a pickup truck belonging to a friend of her son’s in Key Largo on June 28, the night after the teen was arrested.
The friend and two other men were reportedly staying at a home Brennan owns in Key Largo. According to Sheriff’s Office reports, Brennan drove down from the mainland on June 28 to deal with her son’s DUI case, became angry her son’s friends were still at her house partying and took out her aggression on the Chevy pickup.
Brennan reportedly paid the man for the damages she caused to truck and the man, Victor Garcia of Homestead, subsequently decided not to pursue charges.
Monroe County State Attorney Catherine Vogel recused herself from the elder Brennan’s case, she said, because the two once worked together as Miami-Dade prosecutors and because a member of Vogel’s current staff once dated Brennan.
Gov. Rick Scott’s office reassigned the case to Lee County prosecutors, who decided Sept. 1 not to pursue the criminal-mischief charge against Brennan after a hearing in front of Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Tim Koenig.
Vogel’s office remained on the younger Brennan’s case and dropped the charges on Sept. 7. But one of Vogel’s prosecutors, Assistant State Attorney Luke Bovill, stated in the “memorandum of no action” that the teen and a female passenger, Savanna Hamilton, 18, tried to deceive police about the unnamed male who was driving the car that June 27 night.
“It requires no stretch of the imagination to see that both the defendant and Ms. Hamilton were purposely leaving out that there was a third person involved in the accident and the fleeing until they were literally confronted with evidence and testimony regarding that person and even then they continued to resist giving any information about that third party that could have aided in the investigation,” Bovill wrote.
The State Attorney’s Office issued a summons Friday for Hamilton on misdemeanor fake ID and obstruction charges. Vogel would not comment when asked if similar charges were filed against the younger Brennan because he is a juvenile.
The driver has not been caught or identified. Original Florida Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Office reports placed the younger Brennan behind the wheel of the BMW that struck a car from behind driving on U.S. 1 around mile marker 92 and then into two parked cars on the side of the highway.
But Bovill states in the Sept. 7 memorandum that three eyewitnesses told police that the other male was driving and the younger Brennan hopped into the driver’s seat after the car became disabled after striking the last parked car.
“Most important to this finding is that there are three eyewitnesses to the incident ... who all state unequivocally that the defendant was not the driver and that defendant jumped into the driver seat after the crash. In addition, the evidence shows that at the time the defendant was observed in the driver seat subsequent to the crash, the car was inoperable.”
According to a June 27 FHP arrest report, Hamilton and the unidentified male fled the crash scene. Police stopped Hamilton, who, according to the report, told police she feared for her life.
But Bovill states in his Sept. 7 memorandum that the younger Brennan and Hamilton were not telling the truth and “there is insufficient evidence to prove the element of operation of the vehicle by the defendant at or prior to the accident in this matter.”
“Even taking into consideration the testimony of the defendant and Ms. Hamilton that the defendant was behind the wheel at the time of the crash,” Bovill wrote, “there is no way for the State to overcome the evidence presented by three, wholly independent eye-witnesses who all testify that the defendant was not the driver.”