Stuart Prescott Released from Jail
Stuart Prescott, 48, of Suwannee Florida shot and killed Tyler Snellgrove, 18, also of Suwannee. The shooting occurred on 13 September, 2014. Deputies interviewed witnesses and obtained a warrant to search Prescott’s house. Prescott was arrested and placed in Jail on the 14th or 15th of September, 2014. He was charged with 1st degree murder.

The only news at the time stated that Prescott come out onto the porch when he had a confrontation with Snellgrove. He went back inside, got a shotgun, came out and shot the younger man. From wcjb.com:

Sonja Reed says her grandson has known Prescott since he was a little boy.

She believes that Prescott felt her grandson was a threat competitively to him.

Prescott is currently in the Dixie County jail on one count of first degree murder.

As is often the case, the events appear to have been a bit more complicated. Now, nearly two years later, Prescott has been released, and all charges have been dropped, by order of a judge. How does a case like this go on for nearly two years, only to have a judge order the charges dropped? From wcjb.com:

Just days before Snellgrove has robbed, beaten and threatened Prescott life.

Prescott claims he was fearful for his life and after confrontation he shot Snellgrove.

Under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law a judge ruled the shooting was justified and all charges were dropped.

The grandmother of the man who was killed, was given space on the news to speculate that her grandson was killed for romantic reasons. Now we find that he had robbed and beaten Prescott only a few days previously.

Prescott will never get his two years of life in jail back. It will be very difficult for him to recover any reputation.

In addition, The FBI UCR tracks arrests, not final court outcomes.The UCR specifically instructs the police doing the reporting not to rely on court outcomes, but to use only the very restrictive FBI definition of justified homicide.

The FBI UCR counts this as a murder, not a justified homicide. The arrest is likely to follow him every time he is required to have a background check.  They can be hard to remove from the system.  He has been punished by process.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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43 Responses to After 22 Months in Jail, Florida Shooter Released, Charges Dropped

  1. How are his gun rights gone? He wasn’t convicted of anything. Last time I checked, NICS only flagged convictions, not arrests.

    • Bingo. He is not a convicted felon nor convicted of a violent misdemeanor. Further, the judge ruled it was a justifiable homicide under Florida’s laws. Double whammy. He gets his gun back, and his rights should be intact. So, Dean, why do you think he is a prohibited person?

    • Some states (Colorado included) track arrests. Colorado Bureau of Investigation records do not place arrests and disposition together. Therefore, if a vindictive ex-wife were to accuse a man of abuse, a DV arrest will show up on a check, resulting in a denial even if charges were dismissed before trial.
      Colorado has 30 days after appeal of denial to correct the information. However, once that correction has been done, future checks (as for a CHP) are streamlined.

      Or so I heard.

      • In Colorado it is permanently on your record, even if it was dismissed (i know first hand) even after asking for it to be taken off my record it still shows, no how much paper work i file.

    • It’s almost always the defendants attorney who delays the case. Time after time.
      Sure, the prosecution can ask for more time, but I’d lay odds it was his own attorney (s) who delayed it.

      • Correct, you have to waive your ‘right to a speedy trial’ or you’re libel to be convicted within a month. Better to spend 22 months in prison than to try to get a life sentence overturned.

        • You have to look at the jurisdictions and some of the shady things courts/prosecutors do. Sometimes the right to the speedy trial gets defined in a way that it is anything but. For example in New York, it is basically the case that as long as prosecutors assert that they are ready, they can ask for delays and as far as the court is concerned the defendant’s rights were protected. There was a fairly publicized case where a 17 or 18 yr old was arrested on suspicion of stealing a back-pack and spent years in jail because they couldn’t afford bail. Eventually, after large public outcry the new judge who was brought in to get rid of some of the huge backlog of cases told the prosecutor he was not granting any delays and that they must move forward with a trial or release him. At this time the prosecutor admitted they don’t have a case (contrary to years of contrary statements) and the charges were dropped. Unfortunately the man arrested, committed suicide not long after release because of the severe bouts of depression likely caused by the years in jail without a trial.

          Another is that at least it used to be true that the area of Ohio I lived in, if you got a speeding ticket and wanted to fight it one of the forms that they would tell you you had sign was a form stating that you waived that right. Many people don’t realize what it actually said nor do they notice the actual text that does say you don’t have to sign it. (I had a friend who was a lawyer and he always advocated people to make sure they didn’t sign, because it would almost always lead to the case dismissed because they couldn’t schedule the trial in the time limit).

          It really is sickening…

        • Yes, once you waive your right to a speedy trial some prosecutors will do everything in their power to drag the process out as long as possible. Seems pretty counterproductive to me, but then I don’t work for the government.

        • But the guy was never convicted.

          If there is even a sliver of a possibility that an innocent guy can get convicted when he should not have, on account of no more than a trial being conducted in a reasonably speedy manner; “we”‘ve got bigger problems with the criminal justice system then simple tardiness.

          Until that’s fixed, just shut the whole institution down and let everybody go. Might not be 100% ideal, but absolutely anything beats even the remotest possibility of locking up innocents for years, just to say, uh sovvvy..

      • Tom’s right. You have the right to a speedy trial. Whether or not that’s a good idea, legally speaking, is another matter. Therefore, defense attorneys in high stakes cases will sometimes slow cases down in order to collect more evidence, allow passions to cool, or various other reasons.

        I used to help compile stats for adult and juvenile detention for King County. Even with the long stays for sentences, which at the county level can be up to a year, and long pre-trial and trial detentions, which can go on even longer like in this case, the average length of stay was about ten days. If I remember correctly, most trials in King County are less than a week long, with a lot of them being a day or two.

        Cases that make the news are unusual. There’s something about them that distinguish them from the mass of ordinary day in day out proceedings. Often, those are the cases that take a long time to try.

        • Prosecutors also delay cases, especially ones that are hard to prosecute, in order to try to force the defendant to take a plea deal. Happens all the time.

          On a stupid parking accident, I spent a year going to court 1-2 times a month as the prosecutor pressured me to take a guilty verdict.

          Jury took 20 minutes to go to the bathroom, 2 minutes to stop laughing and find me innocent of all charges.

        • In a case like this, a delay can be a smart play not only to let jury passions cool, but to greatly decrease the likelihood a prosecutor can successfully withhold exculpatory evidence…as has been the case in many if not nearly most of the “black lives matter” bullshit cases we’ve seen since Trayvon Obama.

    • Where the hell is his right to a speedy trial?

      In the new Constitution (howsoever that comes about), our rights are going to have to be spelled out in even greater detail, but also come with explicit individual and institutional, civil and criminal penalties for violations.

      • He has that right. For this to have gone on for this long he almost certainly waived it voluntarily. And the delay may have made the difference between a quick conviction and his eventually walking free.

    • That’s what I was thinking. That seems like cruel and unusual, and lacking in the speedy trial dept. I smell a civil rights case.

    • No rule of law, constitution set on fire, felon running for the white hut, terrorists killing people while other felons blame gunsc and oh the nra is the devil… No kidding what country is this? Balkan states of tyranica?

  2. The justice system was broken as soon as the quality of defense and prosecution was dependent on the income and connections of the prosecution and defendants.

  3. “Just days before Snellgrove has robbed, beaten and threatened Prescott life.”

    I realize that’s quoted directly from the WCJB story. Dean you need to throw a [sic] in there. Or three. What a confusing pile of illiterate jibberish.

    I remember when “journalists” needed to have at least a third grade education.

    As for this story, well, there is more to it. Lots of details we aren’t being told. Probably because the prosecutor is too embarrassed.

    • When I was in J-school in the mid-70s, in Beginning Newswriting, students had to write an obit on some living local public figure for every style, spelling, punctuation error, etc. I only wrote two before I wised up. The professor of this course, who was an old newspaper warhorse and not an academic, actually “fired” two students at midterms in front of the class, God and everybody because their backlog of obits had become hopeless. After these two guys picked their jaws up off the table, they gathered up their stuff and left, never to be seen again. Come to think of it, the whole faculty was from the business. That “j-school” is now a full “college” staffed by academics. I rather doubt students are getting the same education in fundamentals.
      Furthermore, I never heard a word of political indoctrination from those worthies. People who tried to opine instead of reporting just the facts were slapped down pretty fast. I also doubt that is the case today.
      Now I just hope I didn’t make any bonehead mistakes in this post. Whenever I have to work in one of these boxes I completely forget how to type.

    • They still need a third grade education. Basic subject verb agreement is beyond the modern third grader.

    • There are many unanswered questions in this case. I am working on a somewhat similar story in Yuma. Successful local businessman, a retired vet, shoots a much younger man near a local bar in a decent part of town. In the booking picture, you can see he sustained some relatively minor injuries to his head and face. He cooperated with police, but enforced his rights. Three grand juries later, the prosecutor agrees to a pre-trial preliminary hearing in front of a judge. The judge throws everything out, says that there is no probably cause to charge this guy with anything. That is two years later.

      The prosecutor refuses to make any comments to reporters. The defense attorney says this case should never have been brought to court. Looks like the defenese attorney is correct.

      They tried to prosecute him for aggravated assault with a weapon, but we had passed the defensive display law here in Arizona.

      The original bond was $500,000 cash. It was gradually reduced. I have been trying to get court documents. No luck yet. Haven’t been able to make contact with the shooter. It appears that he and his wife are looking to leave the area. He imported a lawyer from Phoenix, 180 miles away, to win the case. The civil case is still in process. The guy he shot survived.

      • “The original bond was $500,000 cash. It was gradually reduced.”

        That bites, but it sounds like he had the resources for it.

        The bikers who were caught up in the Waco bar shoot-out got popped for a million in bail *each*, I wonder how many are eating the $100,000 bail bond fee just so they could go to work to pay that off.

        Are there any of those folks suing Waco over that?

    • I firmly believe that most journalists no longer write their stories; instead they supply keywords from their notes to a program that compiles them into paragraphs. Hence the weird, Yoda-like structure with about six different interpretations that results from splicing multiple independent line items from the reporter notes into a single sentence.

  4. Cops often arrest people at the drop of the hat. They don’t care if you did it or not, they will err on the side of making an arrest. No matter how innocent you are, your life is now ruined forever.

    • To be fair it’s not the cops’ job to decide whether or not you’re prosecuted. They’ll haul you away, interrogate you, collect evidence and hand it off to the DA’s office. It’s the DA that’s the prick here, not the cops.

      • “To be fair”
        Quotas, policing as a method of revenue, career advancement, federal inducements for specific types of arrest, civil forfeiture, willful and expected disregard of Constitutional rights, carve outs in the law, police militarization, immunity, the blue line, identifying non police as civilians, etc.

        A person in this occupation can ruin your life by simply making a baseless or erroneous arrest. The officer and their leadership will not suffer any repercussions for the ongoing legal, social and personal harm they have caused their victims. Accountability must be measured to the same standard as any “civilian” without special considerations.

        I hope none of us are subject to this “fairness”. Maybe all of us and our loved ones should experience that up close and personal. Maybe that would be a catalyst for change.

        • To be fair I was referring to a case like this one where someone shot and killed someone in self defense. Yes, there are some bad cops. Lazy cops. Cops that don’t give a shit about arresting the wrong guy. I’ve personally seen cops do some pretty shitty things. But they’re not responsible for this guy spending 22 months in jail. You need to understand when your biases apply and when they don’t.

  5. I would point out that while they are maintained by the same agency the UCR and NICS are not the same.

    • I’m reading this too and thinking that Dean doesn’t know the difference between NICS and UCR. The UCR tracks all kinds of crimes many of which are never cleared. The UCR is a public database for crime statistics. NICS tracks the criminal history of individuals.

  6. If he had an altercation (or argument), went inside, then went back outside and just shot the guy (as it sounds from the description above), that sounds like second degree (?) murder to me.
    I’m hoping there are details missing, like maybe the guy stepped back outside with his gun (still a stupid idea, but not criminal), and the decedent tried to take it while screaming “I’m going to kill you!”

    • Depends. Who initiated the violence is still a primary factor. Just getting the gun isn’t in and of itself a violent act. If you have a guy standing outside your door threatening you, being armed isn’t the worst idea in the world.

      I’d probably lock my door, get my gun, let him know I’m armed, call the cops, and let him know I’ve called the cops, in that order. If he tries to break down the door, he’s getting shot. If he’s still outside when the cops show up, they deal with him.

  7. Uh yeah this whole thing stinks like a 2 week old dead fish. But I don’t know enough . What was grandma referring to as “romantic” reasons? Gay lovers?!? Having a straight rival who’s 18 when I’m way over 40 sounds “odd” to say the least…

  8. Dean, any info on the went inside and came back out part? I’m curious how that was explained away and didn’t hurt him.

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