Bollea's hearing pushed to April

Preplea and presentencing reviews are ordered.

By Jose Cardenas, Times Staff Writer
Published February 20, 2008

The judge hearing Nick Bollea's reckless driving case has ordered a preplea, presentence investigation, but attorneys say that doesn't mean a plea is in the works.

"We are not considering a plea agreement," Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said Tuesday, though he added prosecutors are anticipating that Bollea might change his plea of not guilty at a hearing in mid-April.

Defense attorney Kevin Hayslett said he did not ask for the presentence investigation and is not seeking to make a plea on his client's behalf, but he added, "I consider anything, anytime."

Presentence investigations like the one ordered by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger are routinely requested in cases involving young defendants or first-time offenders, Hayslett said.

"She didn't tell me why she wanted it, but I assume she wanted it because it's typical," Hayslett said.

The investigation, which the judge would use to help determine an appropriate sentence, considers such factors as the accused's family history, education and prior record. Other than some traffic infractions, Hayslett said his client has no previous criminal record.

Bollea was scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Tuesday, but neither he, his attorney nor prosecutors were there when the case was called. Helinger continued the hearing until April 14 and said a presentence investigation would be done.

Bollea, 17, is charged with reckless driving with serious bodily injury in an Aug. 26 crash in Clearwater that left his friend and passenger John Graziano with brain damage.

If Bollea entered a plea, Rosenwasser said, prosecutors would proceed as usual: Rosenwasser would present the facts and circumstances of the case, and the victim's family would speak.

"We are going to leave everything up to the court," Rosenwasser said.