Mistrial declared for ice cream man accused of revenge murders

February 21, 2020

BY COURT TV STAFF

UPDATED 2/21/20: After 7 hours of deliberations, the judge declared a mistrial when the jury said they were hopelessly deadlocked. Michael Keetley will be retried this May.

 

ORIGINAL STORY 2/5/20:

An ice cream truck owner is facing a life sentence for alleged revenge murders nearly 10 years ago that claimed the lives of two innocent men.

Michael Keetley, 48,  is accused of fatally shooting brothers Juan and Sergio Guitron on Nov. 25, 2010, in Ruskin, Fla. He is also accused of the attempted murder of three others in the Thanksgiving Day shooting rampage.

Prosecutors say Keetley planned the crime spree after he was robbed and shot 10 months earlier. The incident left Keetley permanently disabled and unable to work. Evidence reportedly found in the defendant’s home shows Keetley’s obsession with finding the people who attacked him, focusing on a Hispanic person named “Creep.”

The four witnesses who survived the attack told authorities Keetley pulled up in front a Ocean Mist Court home around 2 a.m in a minivan. Keetley, who was wearing a shirt that read “sheriff,” asked them if they know “Creep” and ordered the seven men to get on the ground at gunpoint. He then allegedly shot them one by one, according to The Associated Press.

It was later determined all seven men had nothing to do with the initial attack on Keetley.

In a photo array, one victim reportedly identified Keetley as the gunman. However, Keetley’s defense team is arguing he was wrongfully accused due to a “tainted” group text between the survivors that contained his photo.

Keetley’s trial has since been tied up in the Florida legal system while his defense team underwent multiple changes and prosecutors pushed for the death penalty. Now, the state is no longer seeking capital punishment, pushing Keetley’s trial to start with opening statements Feb. 5, 2020.

TIMELINE:

2010:

Jan. 23: While driving his ice cream truck, Keetley is shot multiple times in an armed robbery.

Jan.24: Keetley undergoes surgery to repair fractured fingers on his left hand and humerus fracture to right arm.

March 2: Keetley undergoes bone graft surgery on left hand; bullet removed from his back.

June 1: Keetley undergoes surgery on left hand to release scar that formed from bone graft surgery.

Nov. 1: Last electrical test before shooting shows right radial neuropathy unchanged from previous study three months earlier.

Nov. 25: A gunman shoots six people at 604 Ocean Mist Court, killing brothers Sergio and Juan Guitron and injuring four others.

  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office makes contact with inactive confidential informant Esteban Rivera.
  • Jose Rodriguez does not positively identify Keetley in photo array.

Nov. 26: Jose Rodriguez calls police and says he recognizes Keetley as the gunman from a different picture that his friend showed him.

Nov. 27: While in hospital, survivor Daniel Beltran does not positively identify Keetley in photo array.

  • HCSO searches Keetley’s parents’ property.
  • HCSO pulls over Keetley in a traffic stop for speeding and brings him in for questioning.

Dec. 1: Survivor Gonzalo Guevara positively identifies Keetley in photo array.

Dec. 2: Keetley is arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.

2011:

Feb. 4: State Attorney Mark Ober files notice of intent to seek death penalty against Keetley.

April: Keetley’s parents exhaust their retirement savings – nearly $200,000 — on private attorneys Paul Carr and Lyann Goudie.

2014:

Nov.: Keetley is declared indigent.

2015:

Oct. 5: Defense files two motions in limine:

  • Motion to exclude or limit state’s proposed ballistic expert testimony relating to comparison of spent cartridge casings and projectiles.
  • Motion to exclude or limit State’s proposed … expert testimony relating [to] handwriting analysis.

 2016:

May 13: Defense attorney Paul Carr tells Keetley he can no longer represent him due to personal and medical reasons.

Nov.: Andrew Warren, Hillsborough County’s newly elected State’s Attorney, reviews capital cases he inherited from his predecessor.

2017:

June: Warren waives the death penalty on five of 24 cases, but not Keetley’s.

2018:

Jan.: Lyann Goudie files a motion to withdraw from Keetley’s case.

April 1: Former Keetley lawyer Paul Carr dies.

2019:

Feb.: Warren’s office grants request from Public Defenders Julianne Holt and Jennifer Spardley to waive death penalty for Keetley.

June: Goudie and the State Attorney Office request a continuance so they can reassess evidence light of Florida Supreme Court ruling that changed the standard for admissibility of expert testimony.

Sept. 5: The Florida Supreme Court dismisses appeal for the Public Defender’s Office to withdraw from Keetley’s case.

Nov. 15: Daubert hearing held on defense motion related to handwriting analysis.

2020:

Jan. 23: Court denies defense motion to limit of exclude limit state’s proposed handwriting expert testimony.

Jan.29-30: Hearing held on defense motion regarding state’s proposed ballistic expert testimony relating to the comparison of spent cartridge casings and projectiles.

Feb. 4: Court denies defense request to limit or exclude ballistics comparison.

Feb. 5: Jury seated: 12 jurors: 9 women and three men, 3 female alternates

Feb. 6: Opening statements

Feb 7: Day 2 – Testimony

  • Four witnesses describe how in months leading up to fatal shootings, Keetley used his ice cream truck to search for leads and suspects on January 23, 2010, armed robbery that left him severely injured, even offering a $25,000 reward at one point
  • The witnesses said Keetley was looking for a suspect named Creeper. This matters because the shooting survivors told law enforcement that the gunman asked for Creeper and asked to see their identifications before opening fire on them
  • Prosecutors introduce crime scene photos showing .45 caliber projectiles and casings
  • Keetley’s friend testifies that Keetley kept a .45 caliber Glock in his ice cream truck and that he saw Keetley shoot it
  • Medical examiner testifies that Sergio and Juan Guitron were fatally shot from behind
  • Retired body shop owners testify that the day after the shooting, he two-toned the defendant’s blue minivan at his request with gold paint

Feb 10: Day 3 – Testimony

  • Daniel Beltran [BEL-TRAHN] shares account of witnessing the shootings of his friends and surviving gunshots to the chest, hip and head before throwing himself over a fence and calling his ex for help.
  • Beltran and fellow shooting survivor Jose Rodriguez describe hearing gunman rack firearm in between shots but provide different descriptions of the gun, further complicating the question of what kind of firearm was used and how it connects Keetley to the shooting.
  • Beltran does not identify Keetley as the shooter. But he provides details about the shooter that resemble what other witnesses said Keetley told them he would do, such as pose as law enforcement and exact revenge on “Creeper,” the person he believed was responsible for an armed robbery that left him severely injured.
  • “He said he wanted revenge,” says Kari Radcliff
  • Speaking of Creeper, the jury meets Omar Bailon [BYE-LON] of 507 Ocean Mist Court.
  • Balion testifies he had the nickname “Kreeper” in 2010. But neither the state nor the defense asks him if he was involved in the January 23, 2010, armed robbery of Keetley
  • Investigators found a notebook in Keetley’s home with the last name Bailon and the 507 Ocean Mist Court address written in one of its pages.

Feb 11: Day 4 – Testimony

  • Sergio Guitron’s mother shares a Facebook post pledging to fight for justice on what would have been her son’s 32nd birthday
  • Judge Christopher Sabella denies defense request for a mistrial based on Wesley Smith’s testimony about general availability of kits that can be used to modify guns
  • Jurors hear Keetley’s police interview two days after shooting in which he denies knowledge of Creeper and laughs while telling the detective that his friend asked if he was involved
  • Wesley Smith’s wife Carmen Smith describes collecting shell casings from Keetlety’s makeshift target shooting range in a Victoria’s Secret bag and stashing them in their shed
  • Sabella questions each juror individually after alternate expresses concern that her name will be aired on Court TV after defense lawyer spoke it last week; jurors say the experience will not bias them against the defendant
  • Yet another person says Keetley asked him if he knew a person named Creeper

Feb 12: Day 5 – Testimony

  • Two more shooting survivors testify Wednesday, but neither identifies Keetley as the gunman
  • Crime scene investigator identifies photos of at least six firearms found in Keetley home, none of which are believed to the murder weapons
  • Prosecution attaches drum magazine to the long gun (both found in Keetley’s room) and shows it to jury
  • Forensic document examiner confirms that Keetley “probably” wrote Omar “Kreep” Bailon’s last name and address in a notebook, a fact the defense never disputed (see my email from 3:09p)
  • Jurors see photos of projectiles and casings collected from van Keetley used for target practice, laying the groundwork for ballistics expert who’s expected to testify that they match casings and projectiles found at the crime scene

Feb 13: Day 6 – Testimony

  • Jurors hear from crime scene investigator who photographed and collected shell casings from the Keetley family property, laying the groundwork for firearms expert who is expected to testify that they match ballistics from the crime scene AND that they were fired from same gun
  • FDLE data recovery specialist testifies that the term “Ocean Mist” – the street where the fatal shooting occurred — appeared 92 times on Keetley’s hard drive, including – but not all — from internet searches
  • On cross, defense points to internet history records from Keetley’s laptop that suggests someone may have downloaded information from the internet after it was seized by law enforcement

Feb 14: Day 7 – Testimony

  • Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement data recovery specialist Connie Bell
  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jose Lugo.

Feb 17: Day 8 – Testimony

  • Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement forensic scientist says .45 caliber projectiles and shell casings collected from shooting scene were fired from the same gun as casings found on property where the defendant lived with his parents
  • Det. Jose Lugo says Gonzalo Guevara started shaking and grew teary-eyed and the hospital equipment he was hooked up to started beeping when Lugo showed him Keetley’s photo in a photo lineup
  • The defense attempts to cast doubt on the reliability of Guevara’s identification by drawing attention to Lugo’s handling of a photo lineup

Feb 18: Day 9 – Defense Testimony

  • Dr. David Halpern: Surgeon who treated the defendant after January 23, 2010, armed robbery that state says was the motive for the fatal shootings. See attached affidavit or anchor memo for details:
  • Jennifer Dysart: Eyewitness identification expert; associate professor, John Jay College

Feb 19: Day 10

  • Defense rests after calling 7 witnesses over two days
  • Defendant declines to testify
  • Outside the jury’s presence at end of the day, Lyann Goudie gets riled up after state announces intention to introduce video from June 2017 of naked defendant trying to smash a lightbulb in a jail cell; threatens to call witnesses to testify to Keetley’s slow and hard-fought recovery in jail over nine years
  • Outside the jury’s presence, Assistant State Attorney Michelle Doherty suggests Keetley has been exaggerating injuries in his right arm to elicit pity from the jury and build corroborate the defense claim that he was unable to fire a gun on the day of the shootings and remains unable to do so today
  • The surgeon who operated on Keetley after armed robbery says it’s “extremely unlikely” that he would have been able to lift, hold or fire a gun with his right hand on November 25, 2010; concedes on cross it could have been possible for Keetley to learn how to fire a gun with his left hand
  • Eyewitness identification expert delineates factors that could have rendered Gonzalo Guevara’s photo lineup identification of Keetley as unreliable and inaccurate; concedes on cross she doesn’t know if any of those factors actually affected identification in the case

Feb 21:

  • After 7 hours of deliberations, the judge declared a mistrial when the jury said they were hopelessly deadlocked. Michael Keetley will be retried this May.
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