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Legally incompetent man arrested in Sarasota cold case

As a criminal case grows cold, pressure on police can intensify to find someone -- anyone -- to charge. This is particularly true in instances of shocking, violent crimes. The public fear that a violent individual is out on the loose can sometimes, unfortunately, turn into a rush to convict. This fear is understandable, but cannot be used as an excuse to neglect a defendant's rights in court.

Recently, Sarasota County officials announced an arrest in a 2011 murder in which a woman was stabbed to death in her home. A year after that incident, a local man was arrested for allegedly trying to kill a deputy during an eviction. Police also suspected him in two burglaries, one near the victim's home in the murder from the year before.

The man faced burglary as well as murder charges. However, he was found to be incompetent by a judge during the legal proceedings. He was placed in an institution.

Recently, police have allegedly determined that shoe prints from the 2011 crime scenes matched this individual's shoes. They also claim that his DNA has been found in the murder victim's car, along with surveillance video purportedly showing him driving and parking the car in the lot of Westfield Sarasota Square Mall. He has since been arrested, incarcerated and held without bail.

It is of vital important to uncover the truth in an unsolved violent crime, but that does not mean simply convicting the only suspect available. Defendants accused of such crimes have the right to their day in court, where a legal professional can help challenge any evidence collected by police and highlight any procedural errors or even legal violations that occurred in the haste to close an unsolved violent crime.

Source: WTSP.com, "Man arrested in 2011 Sarasota murder," Dec. 20, 2017

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