Broward County

The state attorney wants to keep him off the road by keeping him behind bars

The mugshot of Joel Hamlar, whom the state would like to keep in jail until his trial on charges from a fatal Mar. 7 crash
The mugshot of Joel Hamlar, whom the state would like to keep in jail until his trial on charges from a fatal Mar. 7 crash

Taking away Pompano Beach resident Joel Hamlar’s driver’s license hasn’t stopped him from getting behind the wheel, according to police. In a recent example, Hamlar drove the SUV involved in the March 7 crash that killed pedestrian Deborah Etienne and cost her 14-year-old son Jameson his left leg, according to police. The state attorney’s office is asking that Hamlar be restricted from driving by being restricted to jail.

A hearing will be held Friday on whether Hamlar will remain in Broward County Main Jail until his trial on the 29 charges stemming from the tragic crash: six felony counts (one count each of vehicular homicide; DUI causing death to a person; DUI with serious bodily injury; driving while license suspended, causing death or injury; reckless driving causing serious bodily injury; possession of a controlled substance); and 23 misdemeanor counts (10 counts of DUI with damage to property or person of another; 10 counts of reckless driving with damage to person or property; one count of DUI first offense; one count of marijuana possession; one count of drug paraphernalia possession).

The state’s argument resembles the reasoning made for remanding Jessica Crane, who is being held in the Broward County Main Jail while the state prosecutes her on 17 charges connected to a fatal May 7 crash. In each wreck, a SUV hopped onto the sidewalk, hitting a mother walking with her children, causing a fatality. Both cases involved a frightening toxicology report and a documented record of ignoring driving restrictions.

In Hamlar’s case, the toxicology report found amphetamine, methamphetamine, ketamine, norketamine and cannabinoids in his system when his 2008 Buick Enclave struck the Etiennes as they walked on North Dixie Highway in Oakland Park. Broward Sheriff’s officers arrested Hamlar on Aug. 25. BSO claims Hamlar told detectives on the scene he was headed back to his Pompano Beach home from South Beach, exhausted from a three-day weekend.

In filing a motion for pretrial detention, the state noted Hamlar’s pattern of driving without a license. In Michigan, from 2008-12, he racked up two convictions for driving without a license and seven for driving with a license that had been suspended, revoked or canceled. Last year, he was charged in Miami-Dade County with knowingly driving on a suspended license, but the charge wasn’t prosecuted.

“Wherefore, the state respectfully seeks the pretrial detention of the defendant based on his past and present pattern of behavior, which has culminated in the death of one person and serious bodily injury to another on March 7, 2016,” reads the close of the state’s pretrial detention motion.

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