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Court no-show has good excuse

By THOMAS LAKE
Published February 8, 2007


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NEW PORT RICHEY - James Wood was expected in court Jan. 25 to discuss a DUI charge from October. When he failed to appear, the judge ordered law enforcement to track him down and take him to jail.

One problem.

Wood was already in jail.

And the agency that arrested him had also prevented him from showing up.

It was an innocent mistake, apparently, and not without precedent.

Here's how it happened:

Wood, a 37-year-old laborer from Moon Lake, went free on bail after the DUI arrest. In the meantime he was arrested again.

Authorities said that Jan. 21, he fired a shotgun into a house, giving a woman inside numerous cuts and scrapes.

Wood went back to the Land O'Lakes jail on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and shooting into an occupied dwelling.

According to sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin, deputies there get a daily list of inmates called to court.

Wood had a pretrial conference scheduled for Jan. 25 before County Judge Candy VanDercar.

But when deputies looked at a list of his charges, they must have overlooked the DUI case, Tobin said.

Attorneys from both sides were unconcerned.

Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis said the state would drop the failure-to-appear charge.

Public Defender Bob Dillinger said the situation would work itself out.

Deputies are asked to transport nearly 1,100 inmates to court each month, and Tobin said more than 99 percent arrive as scheduled.

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.

[Last modified February 7, 2007, 23:23:25]


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