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Was wrong woman arrested?

A Clearwater woman involved in a fender bender is arrested after a deputy finds two outstanding warrants for a woman with her name.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published May 24, 2006


DUNEDIN - Between sobs, Kim Ann Larsen told the sheriff's deputy he had the wrong woman. There couldn't possibly be an arrest warrant in her name from 1995, she recalled saying.

Her last name didn't even become Larsen until she got married in 1996.

"You have the wrong person!" the 34-year-old Clearwater woman pleaded from the roadside, where she was involved in a fender bender.

The deputy didn't buy it.

Larsen, a stay-at-home mom with no prior arrests, was taken to jail.

That was May 4. Since then, she has hired an attorney and tracked down evidence that she says proves she was caught in a case of mistaken identity.

"I want my name cleared," she said.

On Tuesday, the Sheriff's Office could not confirm whether Larsen was wrongly arrested.

However, if true, it would not be the first time deputies arrested the wrong person in a case of mistaken identity.

In 1999, deputies arrested and charged a man with selling marijuana near a school, then discovered they had confused him with a drug dealer with a similar name.

The following year, a woman was jailed for 17 hours after deputies mistook her for a burglary suspect from Arizona. She won a $50,000 settlement.

In 2003, a man spent six days in maximum security when he was mistakenly arrested on a 33-year-old warrant out of Miami-Dade County.

Larsen's attorney, John Trevena, is seeking monetary damages in addition to having her arrest record expunged.

"You shouldn't be arresting someone on an 11-year-old traffic warrant because the officer thinks it's the right person," Trevena said.

According to Larsen and Sheriff's Office reports, the day of her arrest went like this:

She was stopped at a traffic light when a woman rear-ended her car. Larsen called the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Joseph Minor cited the other driver for following too closely. He took down Larsen's information, then said, "The bad news is you have two outstanding warrants."

Larsen thought he was joking.

He wasn't. Minor said there were warrants for failing to appear in court on charges of driving with a suspended license and improper tags.

She spent six hours in jail before her husband posted $1,200 bail.

The warrant is for Kimberly Ann Larsen, with the same date of birth. But the woman was listed 4 inches taller and 70 pounds heavier. The woman had signed under her maiden name, Martin. Her whereabouts are unknown.

[Last modified May 24, 2006, 04:35:49]


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