Accused Fort Lauderdale airport shooter denied bond

Fort Lauderdale airport shooter Esteban Santiago Ruiz was denied bond during a brief hearing on Tuesday where new details emerged about his mental state that prompted the Jan. 6 rampage that left five dead and six injured.

FULL COVERAGE OF THE FORT LAUDERDALE SHOOTING

Santiago, 26, an Iraq veteran who lived in Anchorage, Alaska, didn’t request bond. Even if he had, U.S. Magistrate Lurana Snow indicated she would not grant it.

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Esteban Santiago Ruiz (Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

“There’s no choice. Much of the danger to the community is on camera,” she said, referring to airport video that shows Santiago methodically gunning down travelers near the baggage claim area in Terminal 2 of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Further, facing the death penalty or at least life in prison, Santiago has no reason to stay and stand trial, she said.

RELATED: Two more Fort Lauderdale shooting victims out of hospital

While news outlets have reported that Santiago went to the Anchorage FBI office in November to report that he was hearing voices and believed his mind was controlled by the CIA, Special FBI Agent Michael Ferlazzo testified that the former U.S. Army reservist wasn’t prescribed any psychotropic medicine when he was committed to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute for evaluation.

“He was released with no medical prescriptions,” he testified. While in the hospital Santiago was treated with anti-anxiety drugs. “He was deemed stable,” he said of Santiago’s hospital discharge papers. A gun he turned over to Alaskan authorities – the same one used in the airport shooting – was returned to him, the agent said.

Photo gallery: Exclusive images of Lauderdale Airport Shooting

While Santiago initially told Broward County sheriff’s deputies that voices told him to kill, when he was interviewed by the FBI hours later, talk  turned to his interest in ISIL, Ferlazzo said. “We were discussing jihadist chat rooms he visited” on the “dark web,” the agent said.

During interviews, Santiago said he was in contact online with those affiliated with the Islamic terrorist organization – “like-minded individuals who were all planning attacks,” Ferlazzo said. No foreign group has accepted responsibility for the shooting rampage and Ferlazzo didn’t say whether Santiago’s claims had been verified. He did say that Santiago’s computer and those of his family, who live in Naples and Puerto Rico, had been seized.

Assistant Public Defender Robert Berube interviewed Ferlazzo  at length while Santiago sat at a table dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, indicating he is considered high risk. The only time Santiago spoke was when the magistrate asked him if he agreed to a delay in a preliminary hearing. “Yes,” he answered, giving permission for the hearing to be delayed until Jan. 30.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ricardo Del Toro said Santiago confessed to planning the killing spree. In October, Santiago bought the gun and practiced at an Anchorage area shooting range. Then, he bought a one-way ticket on a Delta flight to Fort Lauderdale. It left Anchorage with one stop in Minneapolis. His only luggage was a gun case that contained a Walther 9-millimeter handgun.

Once Santiago retrieved the gun from airline officials, he went into a bathroom near the baggage claim area, loaded it and stuck it in the waistband of his pants, Del Toro said. “He pulled the gun out of his waistband and fired 15 rounds, aiming at victims heads,” Del Toro said. The five who died ranged in age from 57 to 84 years old. The injured were 40 to 70 years old.

“There’s no conditions or combination of conditions that can secure the safety of the community,” he said.

Kimberly Lucas gets January trial date for 2014 drowning of 2-year-old

Kimberly Lucas sits in court Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 during a hearing to check on the status of her 1st degree murder trial. Lucas is accused of drowning her 2-year-old daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason, along with the attempted murder of her son, Ethan, then 10. At the time of the killing Lucas was estranged from Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother and her former partner. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Kimberly Lucas sits in court Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 during a hearing to check on the status of her 1st degree murder trial. Lucas is accused of drowning her 2-year-old daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason, along with the attempted murder of her son, Ethan, then 10. At the time of the killing Lucas was estranged from Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother and her former partner. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A January trial date has been set for a Jupiter woman who will likely argue she was legally insane more than two years ago  when she drowned the two-year-old girl she shared with her estranged partner and tried to kill their 10-year-old son.

Kimberly Lucas’ Jan. 26 trial date was set in a hearing before Circuit Judge Charles Burton on Monday, a day after Lucas turned 43 years old while behind bars at the Palm each County Jail.

She’s been there since May 2014, after the drowning death of 2-year-old Elliana Lucas-Jamason and attempted murder of Ethan Lucas-Jamason.

Lucas and Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother, had been together for more than 20 years and joined together in a 2001 civil union, but were estranged at the time of the killing. Jamason has said that Lucas suffered from complications from gastric bypass surgery and had subsequently developed a prescription drug problem that contributed to their split.

Lucas first announced that she would be pursuing an insanity defense more than a year ago, after her family hired private defense attorneys Heidi Perlet and Marc Shiner. Now represented by the public defender’s office, her defense at next year’s trial will still be that she suffers from dissociative identity disorder and one of her alters killed Elliana.

Lucas’ case has also been caught in the legal morass surrounding Florida’s death penalty laws.

Luis Rijo DeLos Santos gets plea, 15 years in cross-dresser murder

062615_santos_7Just days before what would have been his second trial in the death of Tyrell Jackson, Luis Rijo De Los Santos accepted a 15-year prison sentence as part of a last minute plea deal.

The sentence, which Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley imposed Wednesday, ends the case where he once faced a possible death sentence for killing the cross-dresser he haid he thought was a woman when he picked him and another man up in 2012.

“I loved my grandson. He would’ve never hurt anyone,” Dorothy Jackson told Rijo De Los Santos before the judge sentenced him. “But you chased him down, you shot him, and you left him to die.”

Kelley in June 2015 declared a mistrial on the first degree murder charge and two counts of attempted murder in the shootings that killed Jackson and injured Michael Hunter and Terence Chatman after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict on those charges.

The charges the jurors acquitted him on are the ones that pertain to Chatman. Assistant State Attorneys Lauren Godden and Teri Skiles reached the plea agreement with defense attorney Marc Shiner rather than take the case to trial, where several witnesses involved in the case have gotten in trouble with the law themselves since the last trial.

The three victims, who sometimes worked as prostitutes, were all dressed as women on March 24, 2012, when their two separate encounters with Rijo De Los Santos ended in gunfire.

Rijo De Los Santos was the star witness in his own defense during the month long trial last year, telling jurors that he shot Jackson and Hunter in Riviera Beach because they’d tried to rob him after he’d given them a ride to a convenience store.

According to Rijo De Los Santos, Chatman was with Hunter and Jackson when he initially encountered them in the 4400 block of Broadway and he, thinking they were women, offered Hunter and Jackson a ride.

Rijo De Los Santos said after the first shooting, he drove back to West Palm Beach, where he encountered Chatman and tried to tell him that his friends had tried to rob him, only to have Chatman also pull a knife on him.

Kimberly Lucas lawyers fight death penalty in daughter’s death

The case of a Jupiter woman charged with drowning the 2-year-old daughter she shared with her estranged partner continued on Thursday to twist through the legal tangles surrounding Florida’s death penalty.

In a hearing for Kimberly Lucas, Circuit Judge Charles Burton granted a request from Lucas’ lawyers to throw out paperwork prosecutors filed earlier this year announcing their intent to seek the death penalty against her.

Burton will allow prosecutors to refile a notice of their intent to seek sertain aggravating factors as a basis for their death penalty quest and give Lucas’ defense a chance to respond before deciding whether to keep a possible death sentence in play. This all comes ahead of Lucas’ expected January trial in the murder of Elliana Lucas-Jamason and the attempted murder of the former couple’s 10-year-old son, Ethan.

Kimberly Lucas sits in court Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 during a hearing to check on the status of her 1st degree murder trial. Lucas is accused of drowning her 2-year-old daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason, along with the attempted murder of her son, Ethan, then 10. At the time of the killing Lucas was estranged from Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother and her former partner. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Kimberly Lucas sits in court Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 during a hearing to check on the status of her 1st degree murder trial. Lucas is accused of drowning her 2-year-old daughter Elliana Lucas-Jamason, along with the attempted murder of her son, Ethan, then 10. At the time of the killing Lucas was estranged from Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s biological mother and her former partner. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The legal wrangling is all tied to a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year declaring Florida’s death penalty system unconstitutional because it limited a jury’s power in requiring a simple majority to make a recommendation to a judge for a life or death sentence.

Florida lawmakers in March rewrote the law to require juries to agree unanimously on aggravating factors prosecutors must prove to get a death sentence and also required at least a 10-2 jury vote for death in order for a defendant to receive the penalty.

That too has been contested and is before Florida’s Supreme Court, which recessed for the summer without issuing an opinion on the matter.

Jacquelyn Jamason, the children’s mother and the woman who was Lucas’ longtime partner, has in the past said that she is neither for or against the death penalty.

Jamason has, however, consistently expressed disappointment with the slow path that the May 2014 case hs taken through the system.

“It’s frustrating. She would like to see the case get to trial,” Jamason said Thursday through her attorney, Jim Eisenberg.

State to seek death sentence in 1990 Lake Worth murder

Jefer Negron
Jefer Negron

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the 49-year-old man charged with suffocating a Lake Worth woman 25 years ago while her 18-month old son was in the next room.

Jefer Negron was extradited from North Carolina last month after a grand jury indicted him in the 1990 slaying of Minerva Cantu.

Investigators say Negron entered Minerva Cantu’s home on the 400 block of North F Street  on Nov 27, 1990 and suffocated her in the living room. Her husband returned home from work and found her dead and their 18-month-old son unharmed in his crib.

Minerva Cantu
Minerva Cantu

Although Negron was initially a suspect, Lake Worth Police never arrested and the case went cold. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s cold case unit reopened the investigation in June 2014 and, according to court records, analyzed DNA samples and talked to witnesses who linked Negron to the murder.

Court records show prosecutors filed a notice that they were seeking the death penalty on July 7. Lasst week, Negron’s attorney, Seth Lawrence LaVay, asked Circuit Judge Dina Keever to set the case for a bond hearing.

The next hearing in the case is set for Aug. 9.

Death penalty trial stalled for sex offender in 1987 cold case

Rodney Clark
Rodney Clark

Jury selection has been postponed in Palm Beach County in a 1987 cold case where a convicted sex offender is accused of raping and killing a 27year-old mother of three.

Jury selection was set to begin Thursday morning in the first degree murder case of Rodney Clark, accused in the death of Dana Fader. But legal arguments stopped that process, and the case is now set for a status check Friday.

Fader, of Lake Worth, was found strangled to death, the tan dress she’d borrowed from her sister hiked up to her waist, in the back seat of her car shortly after relatives reported her missing.

The case went cold until several years ago, when investigators linked DNA from semen found at the scene to Clark. By then, Clark was living in Mississippi.

Authorities arrested Clark in 2013. His case marks the first death penalty case to go to trial locally since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the way Florida courts decide death penalty cases was unconstitutional.

On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill changing the state’s death penalty trial process. The new law requires a minimum 10-2 majority recommendation for judges to impose a death sentence.

Previously, judges could impose a death sentence based on a simple majority vote from a jury, and the judge could base his or her ruling on independent findings.