Local News

Judge sets another trial date for Jeff Carlson

SEBRING - An Aug. 26 trial has been set for Jeff Carlson. However, before that date, 19th Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Pegg may rule on a motion filed by Orlando attorney Michael Snure to dismiss the alcohol evidence. Witnesses told Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators that Carlson, then a Highlands County commissioner, had been drinking the night of July 24, 2010, before his 22-foot boat crashed into a channel marker near Capt. Hiram's Restaurant in Sebastian. His wife, Julie Carlson, 38, was fatally injured. The Sebring accountant contended that investigators had illegally taken bottles of alcohol from the boat.
Carlson registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.076 percent, just under Florida's minimum impairment level of 0.08. However, his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was between 0.11 and 0.15, according to Laura Barfield, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement toxicologist. If the judge sides with Snure, Barfield's statement, the blood evidence and the alcohol bottles may be excluded. Two years ago, after a motion by Carlson's attorney, Kirk Kirkconnell, Pegg allowed both to remain in evidence. However, Kirkconnell died late last year and was replaced by his former law partner, Michael Snure, who filed new motions. Charged with boating manslaughter, Carlson was scheduled to stand trial April 8, but a required evidentiary hearing was never scheduled. Instead, the judge accepted Snure's motion to continue the case until July 25 while more depositions were taken. Now, Judge Pegg has set trial for 9 a.m. Aug. 26 at the Indian River Courthouse in Vero Beach. gpinnell@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5828