Posted: Feb 19, 2008 7:45 am
That article has caused a total uproar around here; pretty perfect. The "socialite" who obviously used her connects at the paper to get the story rolling has some serious, literal skeletons in her family closet. She and her husband were reportedly wasted (drunk and on coke) while boating and apparently killed four teenagers. The husband was driving and got off. See article below:
Awaiting the verdict in the trial of Dr. William LaTorre, victims' families were tailgating Tuesday in the courthouse parking lot. The trial ended before they could light the charcoal.
After adjourning the court, the judge stepped down to congratulate both sides, then climbed back onto the bench. She had forgotten to formally find LaTorre innocent.
Jurors acquitted LaTorre of four charges of vessel homicide. Then some joined him in a lunchtime champagne celebration.
At the end of a highly publicized trial, the bizarre and electic mix of emotion involved in such a grueling criminal case was no better illustrated than by the judge, jurors and families for whom the courtroom had become the focus of their lives.
The families of the victims had waited a year and seven months for the man accused in the deaths of their four teen-aged children to come to trial. Then they sat through nearly six weeks of testimony.
Preparing to wait, the family and friends of the victims met outside a large motor home in the Pinellas County Courthouse parking lot and relaxed in lawn chairs.
The families returned to the middle-front bench where they had spent the past few weeks waiting and watching LaTorre.
When the innocent verdict was read, the packed courtroom erupted with sound and emotion.
LaTorre cried and embraced his attorneys. His wife, Wendy, clutched her stepchildren.
In the excitement, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer left the bench too soon. She had to return because she forgot to formally enter a judgment of innocence for LaTorre.
But the families of the victims responded to the bedlam with silence. They left the courtroom, retreating to the motor home.
They had no criticism for the judge or jury, and they weren't surprised by the verdict.
From the beginning, said Mary Kuhn, whose son, Todd, died in the accident, she knew what the verdict would be.
"Because of the money. When you have money, you can buy anything," Mrs. Kuhn said.
After the accident, some family members of the victims accused LaTorre of using his wealth to beat the charges against him.
They said also said they resented LaTorre's attitude.
"We were upset that he never made an attempt to show any compassion in this case," said Betty Weeks, whose son, Rick, died in the accident.
William and Mary Kuhn said they thought LaTorre should have jumped in the water in an attempt to save the teen-agers.
"Had he given some assistance at the time that it happened we wouldn't feel the way we do" about LaTorre, Mrs. Kuhn said.
LaTorre's attorney Barry Cohen said his client wanted to visit the parents of the victims soon after the accident, but he would not let him because of potential legal problems.
"He understands how they (the parents) feel. I explained to Bill they came here for revenge," Cohen said.
If LaTorre came to the Kuhns today with an apology, Mrs. Kuhn said she wouldn't accept it.
"If he came here I would spit on him," she said.
While the victims' families packed up the motor home, some jurors visited LaTorre for a celebration at Pepe's restaurant on Ulmerton Road.
There, the LaTorres and their attorney repeatedly thanked the jurors and, toward the end of the party they all posed for a group picture.
"Say "victory,' " Mrs. LaTorre said as the shots clicked off.
Later in the evening, LaTorre stood atop the spiral staircase at the home of a close friend and raised a club soda toast to jurors.
"I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart," he said.