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Oldsmar man must stay in jail

The resident accused of terrorizing his neighbors wants to be released to a mental health facility, but a judge denies his request.

By NICOLE JOHNSON
Published April 27, 2005


David P. Vice, who is accused of using fake bomb threats to terrorize Oldsmar for 32 hours in January, went before a judge Tuesday in an attempt to get out of jail and into a mental health treatment facility.

But he will need to see another judge before he gets an answer.

Vice, 41, is being held on charges of knowingly manufacturing hoax weapons of mass destruction. He faces at least 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Vice is accused of leaving letters with white powder in neighbors' mailboxes and at a rental car company and putting a fake hand grenade at a post office and a suspicious package at the Holiday Inn Express in Oldsmar.

The chain of incidents that began Jan. 22 prompted Pinellas County sheriff's deputies to patrol the entrance of Vice's Oldsmar neighborhood, the Preserve at Cypress Lakes and drew a media circus to the otherwise sleepy suburb.

Vice was arrested the night of Jan. 23 and has remained in the Pinellas County Jail since then with bail set at $75,000. He faces four different charges. A psychological evaluation was ordered for Vice on Feb. 22, according to court records.

During that evaluation, doctors diagnosed Vice as bipolar and schizophrenic, said his attorney, Joseph Hobson of Staack, Simms & Hernandez. Hobson said that since the diagnosis, Vice has been placed on medication, but should be in a mental institution.

"I'm trying to get my client the treatment he needs," Hobson said outside the courtroom Tuesday.

Hobson said he has made arrangements to place Vice in the Windmoor Healthcare facility in Clearwater, which among other things provides inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care.

But Circuit Judge Dee Anna Farnell denied that request, saying Vice would have to go before the judge who first heard the case to be released before his trial. Vice's trial is set for early June. Hobson said he will go before Judge Lauren Laughlin on May 2 to request Vice be allowed to enter the mental facility.

Although Vice's case is assigned to Laughlin, Hobson said he asked to go before Farnell Tuesday because she could hear his request soonest.

Vice's recent charges put him in violation of probation that dates from another incident last year, authorities said.

On Sept. 11, 2004, Vice crashed his car into a gate at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Authorities found ammunition and antigovernment leaflets in his car. Vice was charged with fleeing and eluding the police and spent about 30 days in jail. After pleading no contest, he was given two years' probation.

Tuesday, Vice casually walked out of the courtroom holding area in dark blue scrubs and said, "I love you, dear," to his wife, Lisa, who sat in the back of the courtroom with their four sons. His hair, a full head of dark curls with a gray patch down the middle, contrasted starkly with the partially shaved head he sported when arrested in January.

Oldsmar Mayor Jerry Beverland and Vice's neighbors, Derrick Cain and Patricia Julian, sat in the front of the courtroom.

"We were here today to say he needs to stay in," said Cain, who received a letter with white powder but did not testify during the hearing. "We understand he needs help, but it needs to be a secured facility."

Nicole Johnson can be reached at njohnson@sptimes.com or 727 771-4303.

[Last modified April 27, 2005, 00:48:18]


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