Drug trafficker’s plea on eve of trial nets 15-year sentence

A Springfield man set for trial this week on a drug trafficking charge instead entered a plea and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $100,000, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Marcus Walter Harper, 37, pled no contest to Trafficking in Amphetamine (14 grams or more), Resisting an Officer Without Violence, and Possession of Paraphernalia the morning a jury was set to be selected for his case. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register sentenced the defendant to 15 years in prison, with a 3-year minimum-mandatory under Florida’s drug trafficking laws, and fined him $100,000.

Prosecutor Jeff Moore was prepared to present evidence and witnesses that the defendant was in possession of about 24 grams of methamphetamine Dec. 28 when he fled from police.

JURY: Hunt deserves death penalty in Cove quadruple shooting

SAO NEWS: Welcome new prosecutors Morgan Morrell and Jackson White

The evidence would have shown that Panama City police attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle in which the defendant was a passenger. The vehicle fled and the defendant, a passenger, jumped out and fled on foot carrying a black bag.

Investigators Austin Brock and Raymond McNeil pursued the defendant on foot. Brock saw the defendant, who was captured trying to hide in a wooded area, throw the black bag as he ran. Investigators recovered the bag and found about 24 grams of methamphetamine inside.

Basford thanked Panama City police for their work on the case and the evidence they gathered that helped lead to a plea.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

2 new Assistant State Attorneys sworn

State Attorney Larry Basford announced Morgan Morrell and Jackson White have been sworn in both as members of the Florida Bar and as prosecutors for the 14th Judicial Circuit.

Both said they were drawn to the area by its geography and legal history and are ready to make an impact.

Jackson White obtained his law degree from Florida State University College of Law after graduating from FSU. During his college career he received a Certificate of Distinguished Pro Bono Service and worked for Legal Services of North Florida in numerous capacities.

State Attorney Larry Basford congratulates Morgan Morrell.
State Attorney Larry Basford congratulates Jackson White.

Morgan Morrell attended Texas Tech University and received her law degree from the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina. While working as an Executive Legal Assistant Intern during that time she uncovered a $170,000 embezzlement by an employee and assisted in the criminal investigation that ultimately resulted in most of the funds being recovered.

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White said he grew up in a rural small town in west Georgia, “and was looking for an area that had a southern culture and that wasn’t a big city.” He had lived in Daytona Beach and liked the mixture of southern culture and beaches he saw here.

“I think in our current climate the most important thing an assistant state attorney can do is ensure people are held accountable for their actions,” White said. “It protects the people of our community and keeps them safe. You deter criminals by ensuring people know they’re not going to get away with it.”

County Court Judge Joe Grammer swears in Jackson White.
County Court Judge Shane Vann swears in Morgan Morrell.

Morrell said she enjoyed living by the beach in Charleston, and in studying areas for potential jobs she was drawn by what she described as this circuit’s “pristine” reputation. Initially in college she studied finance and was interested in business law, but when she uncovered a $170,000 embezzlement while working as a legal assistant intern her career plans took a turn.

“Discovering and investigating the embezzlement sparked my passion for wanting to pursue white collar crimes,” Morrell said. “Although those aren’t typically crimes that put others in danger physically, they do great harm financially and emotionally and those criminals deserve to be punished accordingly.”

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Jury recommends death for Hunt in 2019 quadruple shooting in Cove

Danny Scoggins, right in wheelchair, and Jenna Scoggins, far right, listen as it is announced that the jury is recommending the death penalty in their daughter’s murder.

The same jury that took less than an hour to find Michael Harrison Hunt guilty as charged of First-Degree Murder and other charges Wednesday, voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

“When someone attempts to eliminate a victim or a witness, it is an attack on our entire Criminal Justice System,” Basford said Friday after the penalty phase. “We appreciate the jury’s service and attention to detail during this 9-day trial. And we are thankful to Lexi Peck’s family for their patience and faith in our Judicial System during the investigation, preparation, and prosecution of this case.”

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet comforts survivor and father of the murder victim after the guilty verdict is returned.

Alexandra “Lexie” Elise Peck, 19, was one of four people shot in an Allen Avenue home April 4, 2019, in what evidence and testimony proved was a targeted attack on a fifth person who was accusing the defendant of sexual battery. That person escaped injury and prosecutors Mark Graham and Peter Overstreet showed Peck’s death was a result of mistaken identity.

Hunt was charged with First-Degree Murder in her death, and three additional counts of Attempted First-Degree Murder in the shootings of Danny Scoggins (Peck’s stepdad), and two friends of Scoggins’ stepson. Hunt also was charged with Armed Burglary.

Scoggins, who speaks through his trachea and was the first witness, has endured about 60 surgeries since the 2019 shootings and has ongoing medical and health issues. He told jurors his family had taken in a teenager who was a victim of rape by Hunt and on April 4, 2019, there was a knock at the door. The person there claimed to be delivering a pizza and then forced his way in.

Scoggins said he recognized Hunt, who he had met and who had been in the home before, after his hoodie slid up when he pulled out a pistol and told him to shut up. Within seconds, Scoggins said, Hunt shot him at point-blank range in the throat and he fell to the floor, choking on his own blood. He also heard the voice of a man he did not recognize but who headed for the back of the house where his daughter and the other victims were.

And he heard his daughter crying for help.

“She said, ‘Dad, help me’ and she said. ‘Please don’t kill me.’” Scoggins testified. “Then I heard shots. I knew at that point I had to get out of the house because I knew if I didn’t die there, he was going to shoot me again on the way out.”

Scoggins managed to crawl and stagger next door, where a neighbor called 911.

Danny Scoggins, speaking through his trachea, testifies during the penalty phase with prosecutor Mark Graham in the foreground.

Testimony showed that after Scoggins was shot, a gunman headed to a back bedroom where he found Peck, who had red hair like the intended target. Two teenagers in the room testified Peck ran in, and was followed by a man who put a gun to her temple and pulled the trigger without speaking. The gunman shot Peck again, then shot both of the other teens in the room twice each before leaving.

“He went in that house that night with one thing on his mind,” Overstreet told jurors. “To get rid of the witness against him in the other case and kill anyone who got in the way or who could be a witness. Unfortunately for him, Danny Scoggins did not die.”

Hunt had been in court three days earlier for a hearing on an unrelated charge when it was announced there was a new warrant against him for Sexual Battery of a person under the age of 18. Hunt was asked to take a seat as other court proceedings continued and the warrant could be found, confirmed and entered into the system.

Instead, Hunt fled the courthouse and was a fugitive. Three days later he committed the murder and other crimes attempting to kill the victim in the new sexual battery who was staying at the Allen Avenue home. He was detained the following day, April 5, as he drove southbound on U.S. 231.

“I will submit to you that the evidence is crystal clear, James Scoggins is crystal clear (Hunt) did this, and the only person who had a motive was the defendant,” Graham told jurors during closing arguments. “Use your common sense and I submit that each and ever one of you, when you consider the evidence, will come back with the only true and just verdict in this case: That this defendant is guilty as charged.”

The defendant is fingerprinted after a jury voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty.

The jury deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday before agreeing and reaching guilty verdicts on all counts. The penalty phase began at 9 a.m. Friday and ended around 3 p.m. Jurors needed only about 40 minutes to recommend death.

“The success of this prosecution is the result of the tireless efforts and thorough investigation by the detectives and officers of the Panama City Police Department, the assistance of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators and criminal analysts, the entire Major Crimes Division of the State Attorney’s Office, and the skill and professionalism of Assistant State Attorneys Mark Graham and Peter Overstreet,” Basford said of the verdicts.

“This was truly a team effort,” he continued. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep our community safe. This type of violence cannot and will not be tolerated in our community.”

Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay set sentencing for Nov. 7.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Fentanyl, heroin and meth dealer sentenced to 25 years in prison

A Panama City man avoided a trial with a last-minute plea to multiple drug trafficking charges this week and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Joseph Duane Rogers Jr., 32, was set for trial on multiple drug-related charges but pled no contest to Trafficking in Fentanyl (more than 28 grams), Trafficking in Heroin (more than 28 grams), Trafficking in Methamphetamine (more than 200 grams), Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device, and Tampering with Evidence. Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark accepted the plea and sentenced the defendant to a minimum-mandatory 25 years in prison per Florida’s enhanced drug trafficking penalties.

Prosecutor Frank Sullivan was prepared to present evidence and witnesses proving that a Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigation resulted in the seizure of a total of about 6.7 pounds of methamphetamine and 1.5 pounds of a heroin/fentanyl mixture belonging to the defendant.

“This is a major seizure of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine for our area, drugs that never made it out of the dealer’s hands and into a place where they posed a danger to our community,” Sullivan said. “Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and the largest contributor to overdoses in our country, state and the 14th Judicial Circuit, and this defendant is where he needs to be.”

The 6.7 pounds of methamphetamine equals 107 ounces, or 3,033 grams. That is about 15,000 doses, or hits, of the drug. The 1.5 pound mixture of heroin and fentanyl is equal to about 24 ounces, or 680 grams.

The heroin/fentanyl mix exposes the danger of fentanyl, Sullivan said, because fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and the potency of the mix is different every time. Even seasoned addicts overdose because the potency is so inconsistent. The Drug Enforcement Administration has noted that fentanyl is so strong in such small doses that even one batch mixed with another drug can produce “hits” of varying potency depending on how thoroughly it was blended.

“All of the drugs seized by the Sheriff’s Office in this case are deadly, but people using fentanyl and these fentanyl mixes are playing a deadly guessing game,” Sullivan said. “We appreciate the Sheriff’s Office’s hard work in making sure people didn’t have that choice this time.”

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Sullivan was prepared to show that Sheriff’s Office Inv. Phillip Hill headed an investigation that led to a search warrant being served on the defendant’s residence May 7, 2021. It turned up more than 14 grams of methamphetamine and other drugs.

While the defendant was in jail, he made contact with someone about more drugs hidden in the air vents of his home that needed to be moved. Hill and investigators were able to discover that location and seized the large amount of methamphetamine and heroin/fentanyl mixture.

Basford thanked the Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case and the follow-up investigation that led to the larger seizure, as well as Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysts who detected the fentanyl.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Angela Dantzler guilty of murder, sentenced to Life

A Bay County jury of 12 took less than 2 hours to find Angela Riggins Dantzler guilty of First-Degree Murder for the 2021 shooting death of her husband in their home, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Friday evening, Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay sentenced the defendant, now 58, to Life in prison for the July, 2021, shooting death of her husband, Lorenzo Dantzler, then 61, inside their Kings Harbour Road home.

Prosecutor Peter Overstreet questions the defendant on the stand.







“Angela Dantzler murdered Lorenzo Dantzler in premeditated, cold blood,” Prosecutor Peter Overstreet told jurors, noting the final shot to the victim was a contact wound to the head while he was sprawled on the floor. “When all the evidence, the photographs, the testimony, the videos are examined, the cloak of presumed innocence is removed and she is exposed for all time and for all to see who and what she is: a murderer, in cold blood, of her husband.”

Overstreet called numerous witnesses during the weeklong trial, including family members who were concerned about the victim, friends who tried to help him, Panama City police who responded to the home and investigated the scene, and state crime lab and crime scene analysts.

The testimony and evidence proved to jurors that the victim’s wife of more than 35 years had passed away in April, 2019. He met the defendant online not long after that and the two were married in August, 2019.

“Her jealous, controlling nature was a shock for a man married for 38 years to a woman he loved, and when she passed away and he needed companionship he made that fatal decision,” Overstreet said. “People deal with grief in many different ways and Lorenzo was no different. After losing his wife, he didn’t know what to do with himself.”

The evidence showed tension in the marriage as the defendant began to believe people were out to get her and that she was being watched. She also became jealous. About a month before the murder during a trip to Tennessee she was accused of assaulting her husband and admitted taking his ID and credit cards and leaving him stranded there.

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The day of the murder, Overstreet said the evidence showed that the defendant had disabled, unplugged and/or damaged the Ring cameras in the home. She approached her husband, who was unarmed and sitting in a chair, from a hallway and fired multiple shots from a 9mm pistol. The victim was struck.

“Imagine the horror Lonnie must have been going through at that time, with his wife shooting at him four times in his own home,” Overstreet said.

After the gun misfired, left the room. When she returned with a .38-caliber revolver, the victim had crawled a short distance away in a laundry room. “He was trying to get away, but his legs were not working, he was helpless,” Overstreet said.

It was then that the defendant again fired shots, including the contact wound to the victim’s head as she stood over him.

The defendant covered the body with towels and other clothing and linens and left it there. She also spread scented dryer sheets over the body and bloody areas where the shooting started. Evidence showed she sent a text message from the victim’s phone to his office saying he would not be in to work because the defendant’s father had a heart attack – which was not true. Additionally, she sent a text from her phone cancelling a cleaning service, saying she was out of town, which also was not true.

The defendant was still in the house with the body July 14 when concerned family members who could not reach the victim and could not get into the house called Panama City police for a welfare check. Police made entry, found the body, and finally found the defendant laying in the bed with a sheet over here.

She ignored officers’ commands and when they pulled the bedding off her, she reached for two guns she had on the bed. An officer tazed her and she was taken into custody. Officers also found her phone and the victim’s phone on the bed. She was treated at the hospital because of the numerous Tylenol she took in an overdose attempt before officers entered her room.

Basford thanked the Panama City Police Department not just for their work in processing the scene, but for the professionalism they showed in first entering the house and in taking the defendant into custody without harm when she reached for a gun. He also thanked the family for their assistance and patience during the prosecution of this case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

14-minute verdict, 30-year sentence for meth trafficker

Prosecutor Dustin Miller, left, examines evidence with BCSO Sgt. Steve Cook, right. In the foreground is Prosecutor Morgan McAfee.

Six jurors needed only 14 minutes Tuesday to find a man guilty of Trafficking in Methamphetamine (200 or more grams) and three other charges, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Prosecutor Dustin Miller called only three witnesses – the two Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst to prove the case against 53-year-old Ronnie Michael Taylor. He was found guilty of the trafficking charge, and Possession of a Controlled Substance, Fleeing and Attempting to Elude police, and Tampering with Evidence.

Prosecutor Dustin Miller addresses jurors during closing arguments. Left, the defendant and a baggie with 360 grams of methamphetamine.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register sentenced the defendant to 30 years in prison. Under Florida’s enhanced drug trafficking Statutes, the defendant faced at least a 15-year minimum-mandatory sentence and was also fined $250,000.

“The defendant was caught red-handed with nearly 400 grams of methamphetamine while he was on felony probation,” Miller said. “He threw 360 grams out of the vehicle as he fled from law enforcement. The jury held the defendant accountable for his actions.”

BCSO Inv. Phillip Hill attempted to stop the defendant’s vehicle near Florida Avenue and 11th Street for an expired tag on March 3, 2022. The defendant kept gesturing out the window as if he was going to stop but kept driving. They went through a parking lot before hitting Florida Avenue, where Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Steve Cook, who had been nearby, joined in.


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The defendant turned into an apartment complex, followed by Cook, while Hill sped around to the other end of complex where the parking lot emptied onto 11th Street. The two sandwiched the defendant’s vehicle and he stopped. They found about 36 grams of methamphetamine in the car. The defendant ultimately told them he had thrown out a larger bag during the pursuit and pointed out where it was. Deputies recovered about 360 grams of methamphetamine from that baggie.

“The Sheriff’s Office takes these trafficking cases seriously and so do we,” Miller said. “Working together, those drugs never made it into the hands of users and this defendant won’t be peddling anything in our community in the foreseeable future.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for another case of proactive work that intercepted a large quantity of drugs.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Habitual offender status brings 8-year sentence for man guilty of child abuse

A man found guilty of child abuse, usually punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison, was sentenced to 8 years Tuesday because his lengthy criminal history qualified him as a Habitual Felony Offender, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

And because Kevin Daniel Fortier, 41, had only been out of prison about 2 years, he will have to serve the first 5 years of this sentence day-for-day as a Prison Release Reoffender.

“The defendant has a documented history of violence and, despite having gone to prison three times, continues to exhibit violent behavior,” Prosecutor Josh James said. “He is a danger to the public and Bay County is made safer with his incarceration.”

A jury found Fortier guilty of Child Abuse July 6 after hearing witnesses and evidence proving that Fortier slapped a child hard enough during an argument in 2021 to knock her off-balance and cause swelling and bruising to her eye.

Fortier, who had previously been to prison three times, got out of prison in 2019 for Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Felony Fleeing and Attempting to Elude.

Based on those previous convictions, James successfully argued that the defendant should be sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender, meaning he faced a maximum of 10 years in prison instead of 5. He also successfully argued that because he had been released from prison two years earlier, he should have to serve the first 5 years of his sentence day-for-day as a Prison Release Reoffender.

Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark agreed, ordering the 8-year sentence and enhanced penalties.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center for their work on the case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

LA drug trafficker headed to Florida prison

A 21-year-old facing three drug trafficking charges – for Fentanyl, Methamphetamine and Heroin – pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

State Attorney Larry Basford announced Oscar Leiva-Casas, 21, of Los Angeles, Calif., will have to serve a minimum-mandatory 15 years of that sentence under Florida’s drug trafficking laws. The defendant was headed for trial before entering an open plea of no contest to the trafficking charges before Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register. An open plea means the defendant no longer contests the charges and is leaving the sentencing decision up to the judge.

Oscar Leiva-Cases was charged with trafficking in this Fentanyl and Heroin (Heroin is dark substance) along with 12 pounds of Methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Nichole Pieper was prepared to present evidence and witnesses proving the defendant was in possession of 12 pounds of Methamphetamine, and 120 grams each of Fentanyl and Heroin, when the vehicle he was in was stopped by authorities Aug. 5, 2021, for a traffic violation.

Sheriff’s Office Inv. Steven Cook was leading an investigation into the importation of drugs into Bay County and developed information that Leiva-Casas was involved in resupplying local dealers. Following a traffic stop by Panama City Beach police, a Sheriff’s Office drug K-9 alerted on the vehicle, indicating it held drugs.

A search turned up 1 pound of Methamphetamine, the Fentanyl, and the Heroin in a backpack the defendant had carried to the vehicle. Another 11 pounds of Methamphetamine were found wrapped individually in a box in the cargo area.

Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic that, because of its strength of tiny doses, is causing overdose deaths across the nation. The 120 grams of Fentanyl seized with this arrest could have caused about 60,000 overdoses, Pieper said.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for again working to make arrests and seize drugs before they have a chance to leave the dealers’ hands and reach the streets, and Panama City Beach Police for their assistance.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Woman admits shooting boyfriend in head, is sentenced to 40 years

A woman who initially claimed her boyfriend shot himself in the head before admitting she pulled the trigger, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Friday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Nicole Marie Harris

Nicole Marie Harris, 38, pled guilty as charged Friday to Second-Degree Murder with a Firearm in the Jan. 20 shooting death of her 31-year-old boyfriend, Vivian George Smith, in his Panama City Beach home.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register accepted Harris’ sentence of 40 years in prison, the first 25 of which are minimum-mandatory under Florida’s 10-20-Life law involving the use of a firearm in a crime.

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Prosecutor Peter Overstreet was prepared to prove at trial that the defendant shot the victim once in the head on Jan. 20 as they sat on his couch. The defendant initially told Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators that the victim shot himself. Eventually she admitted that she and the victim had been arguing and she fired the shot after the victim had fallen asleep.

At sentencing, Overstreet read a prepared statement from the vicim’s son, who wrote that because of the defendant’s actions he lost a part of himself when his father died.

“Because of you, I cry myself to sleep every night and I have become a very sad and depressed child,” he said in his statement. “I hurt so bad and nothing can ever make that pain go away.”

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for their work in determining what happened that night.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.

Drunk driver who sent 6 to hospital given 30 years


PANAMA CITY – A woman who hit a multi-passenger golf cart with her truck, ejecting all seven occupants and leaving some hospitalized for months, received the maximum sentence Wednesday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Courtney Spears, 28, whose Blood-Alcohol Level (BAL) was more than three times the legal limit at the time of the 2020 crash, was charged with six counts of DUI With Serious Bodily Injury, and one count of DUI (Enhanced) because of her high BAL. She entered an Open Plea of guilty to the charges, meaning Circuit Judge Shonna Young Gay would decide her sentence after hearing testimony.

Defendant Courtney Spears is fingerprinted after being sentencing to 30 years in prison.

Prosecutor Barbara Beasley, after testimony from some of the victims and their families about the severity of their injuries that will last a lifetime, asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

“As we grow up and age, we are taught there are consequences for everything we do,” Beasley said. “And her Blood-Alcohol Level was .25 – three times the legal limit. She made a terrible decision that day that will affect the victims for the rest of their lives.”

Hailey Welch, who nearly died the night of the wreck and suffered numerous critical injuries that required a 21-day induced coma, testifies at sentencing with Prosecutor Barbara Beasley sitting to her left.

Beasley asked for a sentence of 5 years on each of the first six counts, with each sentence to run consecutively, or one after another. Judge Gay agreed. The defendant was given time served on the seventh charge.

Beasley was prepared to prove that on the night of March 16, 2020, the defendant was driving a large pickup truck south on Lakeview Circle on Panama City Beach. The victims were driving west on Front Beach Road in a “Low Speed Vehicle,” or street-legal golf-cart type vehicle.

The evidence showed the defendant turned left into the path of the LSV, hitting it almost head-on and ejecting all of its occupants. Blood was drawn from her at the scene and it showed a BAL of .25.

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All the victims suffered injuries. Several were hospitalized for lengthy periods of time and will require lifelong care. Two of the most critically injured spoke during sentencing.

Hailey Welch of North Carolina was 18 at the time of the wreck and does not remember it, she said. She spent 21 days in a medically induced coma following the wreck. She suffered a fractured pelvis (now held together with a plate that will have to be replaced), compound fractures of her fibula and tibula, a fractured femur, a blow to the head that left her with lifelong brain trauma. She faces a hip replacement and other surgeries in the future.

“I am changed by you, your selfish decision,” Welch testified. “I don’t know what it’s like to not be in pain. My future does not look good. Pain will always be a part of my life.”

The defendant’s husband testifies while victims of the wreck and family members watch via Zoom.

Welch said she was on so much pain medication that she began hallucinating, so she gave up the pills and is learning to live with the pain.

”Not only was her body shattered,” Welch’s mother, Cathy, added. “So were her dreams.”

Speaking to the defendant, Cathy Welch said, “When you decided to drink like that and drive, the accountability is on you. There is only one person to blame, and that is yourself.”

Basford thanked the Panama City Beach Police Department for its handling of a chaotic scene and investigative work, as well as the paramedics who were credited by two victims with saving their lives.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.