News Cast for October 12th:
An Okeechobee man will be in prison for the rest of his life following a judge’s decision Friday morning in an Okeechobee County courtroom. 31 year old Derrick Levi Clay was sentenced to life in prison after he chose to plead guilty to second degree murder charges in connection with the stabbing death of 24 year old Tohermain Rosier, also of Okeechobee, last spring. After the plea was entered, Judge Michael Heisey immediately imposed sentence on Clay, who received an additional 55 years prison time for other crimes he committed along with the murder charge, including aggravated battery on his cellmate with a makeshift stabbing weapon, otherwise known as a shank, and possession of contraband when he tried to bring a shank into a courtroom hearing. Okeechobee County Lead Prosecutor Ashley Albright says based on Clay’s behavior, he is a true criminal in the worst sense of the word and his punishment was right on.
Clay’s attorney, James Regan says after talking it over with Clay, he believed that taking responsibility for the crime was the best course of action for his client considering that the state’s case was very strong and the idea of what could’ve been a lengthy trial was just not worth the time for him or the victim’s family.
During the rather emotional hearing, Clay expressed his sorrow and remorse over Rosier’s death, despite the victim’s family not accepting his apology. Meanwhile, the case involving Clay’s accomplice, 25 year old Cheyenne MacKenzie Smith of Okeechobee, has not been heard in court yet. The murder apparently stemmed from a drug deal gone bad between the three.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of Friday morning rose again and unfortunately, the number of fatalities also rose again by two. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,631 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March along with 32 fatalities. 1,627 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to an even one hundred with the median age of the patients being forty. 181 county residents have been hospitalized. Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste. Overall, as of Friday morning, the state has 728,921 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 720,001 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 15,186 with 45,675 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, otherwise please bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations. The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm now every Tuesday thru Saturday. This number, which also doubles as the phone number of the County Library is manned by live personnel and callers can ask about county updates on the Coronavirus and what is being done. The hotline will not address questions about the virus itself or medical questions. The County Library phone number/hotline related to county updates on the Coronavirus is (863) 763-3536. Any questions related to the virus itself, please call the Okeechobee Health Department at (863) 462-5800 or the 24/7 Department of Health hotline at (866) 779-6121. Remember, the key to avoiding the Coronavirus is good personal hygiene. Washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands. Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from someone when greeting them and not shaking any hands. Avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead. Avoid places where there are 10 people or more. If you need further information about the virus and recommendations for preventing it, please log on to the Department of Health at floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.
A Sebring man is being charged with DUI Vehicular Manslaughter following an accident Tuesday evening in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, who is 63 years old, was driving a pickup truck on the outside southbound lane of US Highway 27 near Sachsenmaier Drive in Avon Park shortly before 7:30 when he ran over a 44 year old Lake Wales man who was walking south on US 27. On-scene medics declared the pedestrian dead from his injuries he sustained in the collision. On-scene investigations concluded that the pickup truck driver from Sebring was driving under the influence of alcohol. It remains under investigation. Names of people involved in the accident are not releasable to the public because of Marsy’s Law.
On the arrest report:
20 year old Robert Clayton Harris of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on battery charges. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.
27 year old Brianna Katherine Fulwider of Okeechobee was arrested on several charges of contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for past charges of possession of the controlled substance known as hydromorphone without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. She’s being held without bond.
41 year old Casey Torria Casen of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of disorderly intoxication. He was released after posting a $250.00 dollar bond.
21 year old Ella Diane Meeks of Okeechobee was arrested for public disorderly intoxication. Her bond is set at $250.00 dollars.
29 year old Rudy Mendez Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.
31 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of introducing contraband into a detention facility. He’s being held without bond.
23 year old Lillian Louise Gary of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary with assault and battery. Her bond has not been set.
36 year old Joshua David Roach of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.