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Former Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Bybee is facing a life sentence for attempted murder and 17 other charges, as his trial continues in Florida. Bybee is accused of trying to kill a 79-year-old woman on January 12 of this year.
Authorities say Bybee first met the woman when she called the Sheriff’s Office for help on October 21, 2016. He took her to a hospital and stayed with her for a bit before leaving, but she claims he didn’t leave her alone after that. According to a police affidavit, Bybee reached out to the woman afterwards and maintained a more “familial” relationship, but in December, she reported Bybee to the Sheriff’s office, saying that he was interfering in her personal life and was trying to control her. Police say he also took her dog, and stole bank checks from her home, depositing tens of thousands of dollars into his own account.
During an investigation, Bybee told authorities that he didn’t intend to keep the dog, and that the money he took was to go towards taking care of it, according to the affidavit. However, police say, Bybee also said he then got rid of the dog, giving it to someone else through Craigslist.
The Sheriff’s office placed Bybee on administrative leave, and days later, he allegedly went to the woman’s home and tried to kill her. She told police that he let himself into her home, and while wearing gloves, forcefully grabbed her face and tried to force medication that she used as a sleep aid down her throat. She said she lost consciousness, and when she woke up, her car was running while parked in the garage, with the door from the kitchen to the garage open, allowing carbon monoxide to spread through her home.
Bybee was arrested on January 23 and fired on January 31. Besides attempted murder, his charges include burglary, theft, exploitation of the elderly, and kidnapping.
The alleged victim, Marcia Sohl, continued her testimony on Thursday. Also taking the stand was Sohl’s neighbor Sheila Stiles, who said Sohl came to her for help the morning after the alleged attack. Stiles said Sohl’s face was bruised and she had blood on her nightgown. Officers who responded to the scene also testified, including Sgt. Jonathan Allen. Sgt. Allen said he believed that Sohl suffered from mental health issues, and thought the crime scene had been staged.
On Friday several witnesses took the stand including , Dr. Brad Lerner, Sohl’s doctor, who told jurors about a previous suicide threat that his patient made prior to meeting Bybee. He also testified that Sohl suffered from depression, and often seemed confused. On cross examination, he told jurors that she was not permitted at two area nursing homes because of her behavior. Sarasota County Sheriff’s Detective Eric Wedin testified how he examined emails allegedly sent by Deputy Bybee from Sohl’s account, including an expletive laced email to her doctor saying she was going to commit suicide. Dr. Lerner testified he moved to get Sohl committed upon receiving the email.
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Ronn Blitzer contributed heavily to this report.