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Closing arguments begin Friday in the trial of former Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Bybee. Each side will get two hours to make their final case to a Florida jury. Did the defendant try to kill 79-year-old woman Marcia Sohl on January 12 of this year? All told, the allegations amount to attempted murder and 17 other charges. Bybee could get a life sentence if convicted.
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.
His attorneys are trying to show that Sohl is unreliable. For example, they brought out a doctor who testified Sohl had delusions, such as the FBI being after her. A neighbor testified that Sohn was “nasty” person, and she claimed that on the morning of the alleged attempted murder, she did not see the bruising and injuries that investigators saw on victim.
The defense rested their case Thursday. In the morning, they brought up Sgt. Chris Felix for cross-examination. They got him to admit that he told deputies to put in a report that there is no evidence the crime actually happened. Earlier in the testimony, Felix said he wasn’t an investigator, however, just a supervisor.
Deputy Christopher Butler followed him to the stand. He was at the scene on Jan. 12. He testified to speaking with other deputies, and Sohl.
Sarasota County paramedic Andrew Waltrip testified next. He was also there at the scene on Jan. 12. He said Sohl claimed that she was attack, but she didn’t want to go to the hospital.
The defense recalled Sheriff’s Office Detective Cassandra Gaeta to the stand again. They rested their case after that, but the state actually recalled her again as their rebuttal witness.
#BybeeTrial – Detective Gaeta says Marcia Sohl was shocked when she showed her the checks made payable to Bybee and she cried.
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