Occupy Pensacola wins one, loses one

May 17, 2012

State Attorney Bill Eddins announces that on May 16, 2012, Melody Castro was convicted of Trespass by an Escambia County Jury.
On December 16, 2011, Castro was attending an Occupy Pensacola protest. Pensacola Police Officers arrived at the City Hall where the protest was being held and informed the defendant what would constitute a trespass and what property to stay off. After being instructed by the officers, Castro ignored those instructions and intentionally trespassed on city property.

Melody Castro was tried together with her co-defendant David Burden before one Escambia County Jury. Burden was found not guilty. He was represented by Eric Stevenson. Melody Castro was represented by Gene Mitchell.

Judge Thomas Dannheisser scheduled sentencing for May 23, 2012. Melody Castro faces a maximum sentence of one year in county jail and a $1000 fine.
The investigation and arrest were conducted by the Pensacola Police Department. Assistant State Attorney Stephen Luongo prosecuted the case.

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  • Geoffery Miller May 24, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I know this woman myself and would gladly take her time in jail and her fine from her what ever that may turn out to be. The only reason she was out there was to feed the homeless out there and aid those that were sick. At that time we had a few vets and elderly actually pretty sick. For helping those who needed it while others turned away for following her beliefs she got charged with a crime that she had no knowledge of before that night.

    It really makes me sad to see that our soldiers are out there being killed to let the court system make a mockery of what there lives were spent on.

    As far as Burden was concerned he was relatively left alone in the proceedings and Dr. Castor was bombarded during examination then at the end proclaimed GUILTY just before the jury went to deliberation.

    One Last time I would gladly take over maximum penalty for her the full $1000 and the year in jail for an unjust sentence and will gladly stand with the protesters on may 24 against this mockery of our judicial system.

    Charge them both or neither.

  • Ed May 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Burden was found not guilty because when the officer was asked where they could be , He stated on video on the sidewalk, ie concrete area. Burden made it clear that he stayed on the concrete walkway, while Ms Crastro did not. The video also clearly showed both persons were informed several time that they were required to leave, but failed to do so. Ms Castro by a uniformed offier, Mr Burden by a police officer in plain clothes. It was not clear that Mr. Burden was shown a badge. Hope this help clear up the question. Performance of the lawyers invovled was different in style but adequate. Having a good lawer does not mean you will found not guilty if you are guilty.

  • James May 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    One guy was represented by one attorney, the other was represented by a different attorney. Make no mistake about it, who represents you in a trial is a big deal. You want a trial attorney sitting next to you when you are in front of that jury. That is why you gotta hire a real trial attorney like Chris Crawford, Eric Stevenson or Randy Etheridge. Cant go wrong with them.

  • Joe Montana May 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I wonder if she wasn’t associated with Occupy, if the charges would have even come to trail?
    Edins doesn’t prosecute half the real cases that get to him.

  • joe May 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    An artiulate young person once told me she thought only stupid people, and govt workers, who get paid anyway, get on juries. Everyone else gets off the duty.
    I shared that with a close friend, trial attorney, who reacted angrily and said all the reasons why jury duty is important. The next week he lost a trial and commented to me “I had a stupid jury”.

    I wonder what Mr. Stevenson thought about his client’s jury?

  • joe May 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Were the Occupy folks trying to make a point here by not accepting a plea deal or was one not offered?

    It makes no sense that a trespassing on city property charge would result in any kind of jail time.

    Prosecutors, with their case load, normally don’t want to try cases. Do you know if a plea bargain offer was made and what it may have been?

    This seems to be trumped up charges…arrested for resisting arrest, trespassing and the officer didn’t identify himself. One would think Mr. Stevenson would beat this easily, or really, why did it go to trial in the first place?

    I’m not, generally, an occupy supporter but this was a BS case against the two individuals.

  • jeeperman May 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Would be nice to read why Burden was not found guilty.