Fruitland Park

Man Accused of Killing Daughter’s Boyfriend Wednesday Held on No Bond

LEESBURG, Florida—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of the man killed in Leesburg Wednesday afternoon.

Austin Graham, 26, was shot in the head by James Carlton, 57, of Fruitland Park. Graham was Carlton’s daughter’s boyfriend, LCSO Lt. Fred Jones told Inside Lake.

Shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, Graham and a witness were driving down Whitney Road near State Road 44, when the victim recognized Carlton’s vehicle. The two vehicles stopped, and Graham got out to greet Carlton and had a short conversation with him, the witness told LCSO.

After the brief conversation, Carlton shot Graham and fled the scene; Graham was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where he was pronounced dead, Jones said. Carlton was found at a bar in Marion County and multiple law enforcement agencies responded and took him into custody without incident, Jones said.

Carlton was arrested for first degree murder and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he is being held no bond.

Jones said detectives are still investigating the case and have not released a motive.

Man Shot in the Head in the Middle of the Road by a Man he Stopped to Greet; Suspect Flees and is Arrested at Marion County Bar

LEESBURG, Florida—A man was shot in the head and left on the side of the road in unincorporated Leesburg Wednesday, and the suspect fled to a Marion County bar, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Fred Jones.

At 2:50 p.m., the 26-year-old victim and a witness were driving down Whitney Road near State Road 44, when the victim recognized James Carlton’s vehicle. The two vehicles stopped, and the victim got out to greet Carlton and had a short conversation with him, the witness told LCSO. Inside Lake

After the brief conversation, Carlton 57, shot the victim and fled the scene. The victim was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where he was pronounced dead, Jones said in a press release.  Carlton was found at a bar in Marion County and multiple law enforcement agencies responded and took him into custody without incident.

Carlton, of Fruitland Park, was arrested for murder and transported to the Marion County Jail. His booking information and mugshot were not available at press time.

LCSO has not released a motive for the shooting or the relationship between the victim and Carlton.

No Tag Light Leads to Trafficking Arrest, Woman Held on $82K Bond

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A woman who was at a known drug house and driving around with no taillights was arrested for a variety of drug offenses early Tuesday, including two trafficking charges, according to an arrest affidavit.

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy was patrolling the area of Palm Street in Fruitland Park early Tuesday morning when he spotted a red car in the driveway of a “known narcotics house,” around 1:30 a.m. “Due to my familiarity with the residence being heavily involved with narcotics users, I remained in the area even after the red car left the residence,” the deputy stated in the affidavit.

About 30 minutes later LCSO spotted the same red car nearby and noticed it did not have a working tag light. The deputy attempted to catch up to the car and it quickly pulled into a driveway on Eagles Nest Road, according to the affidavit.

The deputy lit the car up with a spotlight and saw a female in the driver’s seat, a male in the passenger seat and a large dog in the backseat. Both the male and female reclined their seats and attempted to conceal themselves, the deputy noted in the affidavit.

The female, identified as Stephanie Shannon Kilby, 36, got out the car, followed by the male who quickly walked away from the scene. Inside Lake is not naming the man because he was not charged with a crime. Kilby told the deputy she was visiting her friend at the home, but when another deputy spoke to the homeowner, he said he was asleep, not expecting any guests and did not know Kilby, according to the affidavit.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Kilby was found to have a suspended license and taken into custody; as the deputy approached the car, he saw a blue glasses case on the floorboard with a “bubble protruding from the case,” he stated in the affidavit. A “bubble” is a pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamines. LCSO requested Kilby contact the man who left the scene earlier to come retrieve the large dog from the backseat and after numerous calls, he finally answered and returned to the scene for the dog, according to the affidavit.

LCSO searched the car and found a black zippered case that contained approximately 50 grams of methamphetamine, nearly four grams of heroin, along with seven Xanax pills and two Adderall pills. Four cell phones were found in the glove compartment, according to the affidavit.

Kilby, who is listed as homeless, was arrested for trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug equipment and driving while license suspended. She was transported to the Lake County Jail, where she is being held on $82,000 bond.

An earlier version of this story stated Kilby was pulled over for inoperable taillights. Kilby was pulled over for an inoperable tag light.

Third Annual Back the Blue Walk Scheduled for Saturday

TAVARES, Florida—Hundreds of people are expected to attend the third annual Lake County Backs the Blue Walk scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Tavares’ Wooton Park.

In its third year, the walk began in 2019 to show support for law enforcement during a time when the “defund the police” movement was making its way across the country, event organizer Shannon Cook told Inside Lake. Representatives from several law enforcement agencies and numerous public officials are expected to be in attendance.

“The good ones needed to know they were appreciated,” Cook said.

Cook has always had respect for law enforcement officers and the job they do, she said. She grew up and was close friends with Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester who was killed in the line of duty Feb. 9, 2005. Koester, who was 33 at the time, and two other deputies were ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call. All three deputies were shot, and Koester succumbed to his injuries; the other two deputies recovered. Jason Wheeler was shot and paralyzed during his capture and convicted in Koester’s death.

PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

Cook was also close to Chris Daniels, who was serving as Lake County Sheriff when he was tragically killed in a charity bus race in 2006.

“Almost the entire time my son played baseball; Chris Daniels was his coach.” Cook said.

Cook told Inside Lake it is important the community show its support for all of the good officers and those who were lost in the line of duty. She is hoping for a large turnout Saturday, last year’s efforts were hampered by unusually cold weather and it was held Easter weekend.

Saturday’s walk is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Wooton Park, 100 E. Ruby Street; donuts and coffee are being provided by Ralph Smith of Lake Tire & Auto before the event. Walkers will travel down Ruby Street to LCSO and then onto the Tavares Public Safety Complex before returning to Wooten Park for a hot dog lunch provided by Pamela O’Donnell and Vic Donahey of Vic’s Embers Catering.

Cook suggests participants use street parking in downtown Tavares, or park in the Tavares Parking Garage, 200 North Sinclair Avenue.

Free Sealing and Expungement Clinic Scheduled for Saturday

TAVARES, Florida—Lake County residents with minor criminal histories have a unique opportunity to quickly and efficiently expunge or seal their record Saturday if they qualify, at the first-ever Sealing and Expungement clinic offered here.

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida is teaming up with the Lake County Bar Association and Lake Young Lawyers Division to offer this free 4-hour clinic scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lake County Courthouse, 550 West Main Street, Tavares. Lawyers and representatives from numerous government agencies will be on hand to help participants navigate through the process, which often can be difficult to do on their own or expensive to hire a private attorney, said Taylor Tremel, an attorney who will be available on-site Saturday, to help. Lake County Clerk of Court Gary Cooney is waiving certain fees and providing the space for the clinic, Tremel said.

Tremel, who has served as an assistant state attorney and a public defender, is now in private practice with the firm Bowen & Schroth in Eustis and is enthusiastic about being a part of this program. “We saw that there was a need, and I thought it was a worthwhile thing to take on” he told Inside Lake.

“This brings everybody together under one roof to help and answer questions. It’s not very often all these groups get together to do something like this,” Tremel said.

Many crimes are not eligible to be sealed or expunged, including violent offenses, Tremel said. If a person was adjudicated guilty for a crime, they are not eligible either.

Participants’ criminal case must have occurred in Lake County to partake in the event and are asked to pre-register at Clinic Screening (legalserver.org) and those who do, may qualify for assistance with the $75 Florida Department of Law Enforcement application fee. Tremel said participants should not overstate their income or overrepresent how much money they have in the bank.

Tremel is hoping for a large turnout Saturday, “It’s a really awesome event,” he said. “I think it’s something that can be done annually.”

BREAKING NEWS: Tavares Police Release Body Cam Footage in NFL Player’s Arrest

Publisher’s note: The following video contains explicit language.

TAVARES, Florida—Body cam footage has been released in the arrest of Jacksonville Jaguars’ player Lerentee’ Zavonne McCray, 31.

Tavares Police Department released the footage Wednesday morning in the Jan. 16 arrest of McCray.  The video shows McCray pulling into the parking lot 7-Eleven at the corner of U.S. Highway 441 and Banning Beach Road in Tavares playing very loud music. Officers from TPD were arresting an individual for drug possession following a traffic stop and were being assisted by a sergeant from Astatula Police Department, according to a TPD report.  

In the video, McCray attempts to put gas in a TPD patrol car and says, “I just need you to take care of my son.” An officer tries to stop him, and he struggles with McCray over the gas nozzle. McCray then asks the officer to take him home and says, “I thought I seen something I didn’t see,” and the officer tells him to walk away.

 McCray then went to the back of his truck and removed a child’s bicycle and placed it on the hood of the truck and began “talking in circles.” McCray then laid on the ground as if he wanted to be handcuffed, the officer noted in the report.

Earlier that morning, McCray, 31, fled from Fruitland Park Police Department when an officer attempted to pull him over for speeding, according to an arrest affidavit. An officer spotted a white Dodge Ram traveling on County Road 25 at a “high rate of speed” and utilized her radar to find the truck was going 88 mph. The officer attempted to stop the Ram at C.R. 25 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by activating her lights and sirens and the driver, later identified as McCray, put his left arm out of the window and flipped his middle finger at the officer, according to the affidavit.

About 15 minutes later after fleeing FPPD, McCray pulled into the gas station in Tavares and was eventually arrested.

McCray was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares, where he was arrested by FPPD after he was medically cleared. TPD conducted an inventory of McCray’s truck and found a small bag of marijuana and a Benelli SuperNova shotgun.

McCray is facing a charge of fleeing and eluding and was released from the Lake County Jail on $5,000 bond. McCray played for the University of Florida from 2008 to 2012 and has been a Jacksonville Jaguar since 2017.  

Umatilla Man Busted For Buying Vehicles With Bum Checks in 2021, Tries Again With Stolen Credit Card

CLERMONT, Florida— A man arrested last year for scamming two local automobile dealerships has been arrested again for attempting a similar scam.

Prestin S. Carroll, 20, of Umatilla was arrested on warrant issued by Clermont Police Department Wednesday after a man complained his credit card was used fraudulently to charge $2,500 towards the purchase of a new vehicle, at Napleton Clermont Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM , 15859 State Road 50, Clermont, according to a probable cause affidavit.

CPD investigated and found that Carroll, who was employed at the dealership as a detailer, was captured on video using the card to charge $2,000 and $500 in two separate transactions towards the purchase of a 2022 Jeep Compass, the affidavit states.

A warrant was issued for his arrest Tuesday, and he was booked into the Lake County Jail on one count of credit card fraud and one count of grand theft Wednesday and released on $4,000 bond.

2022 Jeep Compass PHOTO: Jeep.com

In April 2021, Carroll was arrested for two counts of grand theft auto and four counts of fraud stemming from scamming two dealerships in Eustis; he was unsuccessful in scamming two more. Eustis Police Department responded to Advantage Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, 18311 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora on a report Carroll had purchased a 2021 Jeep Wrangler with a check written for $48,940.35 four days earlier. The check was returned the next day for insufficient funds and the manager contacted the bank and found the account the check was written on had been closed.  The manager requested Carroll bring in a cashier’s check or return the Jeep by the end of the day and Carroll agreed, according to that probable cause affidavit.

Just a week later, on April 23, another EPD officer responded to Danny Len Buick GMC, 17605 U.S. Highway 441, also on a fraud complaint. An employee told EPD Carroll came to the dealership on April 17— the same day the Jeep was returned— and wrote a $5,000 check to hold a 2013 Ford F150. On April 19, Carroll returned to the dealership and finished paperwork and wrote a check for the remaining balance on the truck— $14,857.78. The checks were returned as unpaid four days later and the employee attempted to contact Carroll to no avail and then called police.

Carroll told police he “must have accidently written checks from the wrong account,” the affidavit states; he later returned the truck. Carroll also attempted to purchase a Ford F150 Platinum worth $74,000 from Prestige Ford, 17701 U.S. Highway 441, Eustis but was unsuccessful. Carroll was also unsuccessful at Phillips Buick GMC, 2160 U.S. 441/27, Fruitland Park.

Carroll’s criminal history showed a prior arrest in Winter Haven and EPD contacted Winter Haven Police Department and found that Carroll had purchased a 2019 Chevrolet Camaro from a dealership in Winter Haven, with a worthless check in the amount of $28,379.59 The report in that case mentioned a similar case in Pasco County and EPD contacted Pasco County Sheriff’s office and found that Carroll had purchased a 2020 Toyota Tacoma from a dealership there and then traded it in on a 2021 Jeep Rubicon. He is alleged to have written two checks for those vehicles totaling nearly $75,000.

In the 2021 Lake County cases, Carroll agreed to a pre-trial intervention (PTI) program, according to Lake County Clerk of Court online records. One of Carroll’s requirements is, “The defendant agrees to refrain from any violations of law.” It is unclear how Carroll’s new charges will affect his prior cases.

NFL Player Flees Fruitland Park Police, Attempts To Pump Gas In Tavares Police Car, Taken To Hospital For Erratic Behavior

TAVARES, Florida—A Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end was arrested in Tavares early Sunday morning after fleeing Fruitland Park Police.

Lerentee’ Zavonne McCray, 31, fled from FPPD when an officer attempted to pull him over for speeding, according to an arrest affidavit. An officer spotted a white Dodge Ram traveling on County Road 25 at a “high rate of speed” and utilized her radar to find the truck was going 88 mph. The officer attempted to stop the Ram at C.R. 25 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by activating her lights and sirens and the driver, later identified as McCray, put his left arm out of the window and flipped his middle finger at the officer, according to the affidavit.

The officer began to chase McCray and an FPPD sergeant joined in, reaching speeds up to 100 mph, the affidavit states. McCray was driving in “an extremely reckless manner,” swerving across all three southbound lanes of traffic and FPPD terminated the stop.

About 15 minutes later, McCray pulled into 7-Eleven at the corner of U.S. Highway 441 and Banning Beach Road in Tavares. Officers from Tavares Police Department were arresting an individual for drug possession following a traffic stop and were being assisted by a sergeant from Astatula Police Department, according to a TPD report.

PHOTO: NFL

McCray, who appeared to know the APD sergeant, gave him a fist bump and then retrieved his wallet. McCray then walked over to a TPD officer’s car, opened the fuel door and walked over to the pump attempting to buy some gas, according to the report. The officer told McCray that was not necessary and closed the fuel door. McCray opened the door again and inserted the fuel nozzle into the patrol car. The officer attempted to take the nozzle from McCray, and he forcefully grabbed the officer’s wrist, and the officer pushed him back, the report states.

McCray then went to the back of his truck and removed a child’s bicycle and placed it on the hood of the truck and began “talking in circles.” McCray then laid on the ground as if he wanted to be handcuffed, the officer noted in the report.

McCray was handcuffed due to his erratic behavior and was not making sense when he spoke. The TPD officer allowed McCray to lean on his knee as they spoke, and McCray fell asleep. Officer called Lake EMS to the scene and as McCray was placed on a stretcher, FPPD informed TPD they had charges for McCray due to him fleeing the earlier traffic stop.

McCray was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares, where he was arrested by FPPD after he was medically cleared. TPD conducted an inventory of McCray’s truck and found a small bag of marijuana and a Benelli SuperNova shotgun.

McCray is facing a charge of fleeing and eluding he was released from the Lake County Jail on $5,000 bond.  McCray played for the University of Florida from 2008 to 2012 and has been a Jacksonville Jaguar since 2017.  

Speeding Delivery Driver Busted With Meth On The Job

FRUITLAND PARK, Florida—A DoorDash delivery driver dashed his way to the Lake County Jail early Monday morning after he was pulled over for speeding and a K-9 officer alerted to methamphetamine in his truck.

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy noticed a small truck that appeared to be speeding around 12:35 a.m. Monday on Picciola Road, near Riverview Drive. After using his radar, the deputy found the truck was traveling 53 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to the arrest affidavit.

LCSO performed a traffic stop and the driver, Michael James Hamilton, 32, of Summerfield, told the deputy he was a DoorDash driver and on his way to deliver food. The deputy asked if there was anything illegal in the truck and asked for consent to search.

Hamilton denied the deputy consent and a Fruitland Park K-9 responded to the scene to do an open-air sniff of the truck. The K-9 alerted and LCSO requested Hamilton step out of the truck, the affidavit states. Hamilton told LCSO there was an empty bag of methamphetamine in the driver’s door. When the deputy removed Hamilton from the truck, he found the baggie in plain view with a crystal-like residue that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

Hamilton was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on $3,000 bond. 

Miami Man Busted With 5 Catalytic Converters at Closed Fruitland Park Business

FRUITLAND PARK. Florida—A Miami man was busted with five catalytic converters and methamphetamine late Wednesday night after a business owner noticed him driving in and walking around the closed business on his security cameras.

Fruitland Park Police responded to Serenity Surfaces, 2860 U.S. Highway 27/441 just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after the owner spotted a vehicle driving into the business with no headlights. Elieser Rodriguez, 21, exited the vehicle and began walking around several vehicles on the property, according to the arrest affidavit.

FPPD found Rodriguez, who was wearing a black hoodie and black pants, on the premises walking away from a wooded area not normally used for business traffic. Officers searched the exterior of the truck Rodriguez was driving and found two catalytic converters that appeared to be freshly cut from vehicles, the affidavit states. Officers also found a vehicle jack, battery-operated saw, manual pipe cutter and bolt cutters; Rodriguez said those items belonged to his friend, the owner of the truck.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Rodriguez said he was on his way from Miami to his uncle’s home in Clermont and stopped at the business because the truck was overheating. Rodriguez passed an open convenience store before he stopped at the business and Fruitland Park is not “within any direct route from Miami to Clermont,” the arresting officer noted. When Rodriguez was asked for his uncle’s address, he opened his phone and it displayed a satellite map of Serenity Surfaces, not an address in Clermont.

Rodriguez was placed under arrest and upon searching the truck, police found a glass pipe that field tested positive for methamphetamine and three additional catalytic converters, along with a black face mask, gloves and a drill.

Rodriguez is facing several charges, including possession of methamphetamine, possession of burglary tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license suspended and loitering and prowling. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released Friday on $100,000 bond.  

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