Teehee witness walks in on unrelated charge
Posted in the North Port Forum
#1 Sep 9, 2010
Updated: 09/08/2010 08:32:14PM
Witness walks in on unrelated charge
By ELAINE ALLEN-EMRICH
North Port Community News Editor
A man whom officers couldn’t find to testify in a fatal hit-and-run trial last month turned himself in to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Friday on an unrelated charge.
Michael Hong Sylvester, 19, turned himself in for allegedly violating his probation on felony battery and robbery charges from 2008. He was released after posting $2,500 bond.
On Aug. 23, the day the trial was set to begin in Alex Teehee’s death, the State Attorney’s Office in Charlotte County told the judge they couldn’t find Sylvester and another witness who had been called upon to testify. Sylvester would have been asked what he witnessed the night of July 13, 2008, when Teehee was struck by a vehicle near his Charlotte Harbor home. Teehee, a 20-year-old father of two, died of head trauma the next day.
In late August, the state dropped the vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges against Sylvester’s friend Ralph Loosman, 21, after Sylvester didn’t appear in court. The other witness, another of Loosman’s friends, Matthew Tricarico, didn’t show up either. Because the State Attorney’s Office couldn’t locate Sylvester or Tricarico, neither was served with a subpoena to appear, and Loosman never went to trial.
Police are calling the Teehee case an active investigation.
Shortly after Teehee’s death, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol began investigating the hit and run. Investigators called the North Port Police Department inquiring about Sylvester, who lived in North Port.
North Port police said Sylvester was a member of the Atwater Drive Krew gang, with whom they had dealt several times in the past. Their mostrecent involvement with him was on May 8, 2008, two months before the Teehee hit and run, when 18-year-old Michael Kevin Wallace filed a complaint with the NPPD. Wallace claimed he had been badly beaten by Sylvester the night before.
According to court documents, at 11 p.m. May 7, 2008, Loosman, Tricarico and Sylvester went to Wallace’s apartment. As Loosman asked Wallace to return his friend’s DVD, Sylvester reportedly came around the corner and hit Wallace in the face. Sylvester repeatedly “hit, kicked and choked him,” documents show.
Wallace yelled to his roommate to bring him $20. As they waited, Sylvester said,“If you call the cops, I’ll kill you,” according to records.
Wallace’s roommate gave Sylvester the money. He tried to help Wallace, but was told to go back into the apartment. Still holding Wallace by the neck, Sylvester reportedly said,“We are straight,” then shook his hand and ran off.
Wallace called his mother, who broughthim to Englewood Community Hospital. The next day, the pair went to the police department to file assault charges.
Investigators noted Wallace had a black eye, bruises on his shoulder and back, and scrapes on his face and lips consistent with being in a fight. Wallace also suffered a fractured facial bone that required surgery, according to court documents.
Police then questioned Wallace’s girlfriend. She said she received phone calls from Sylvester and Loosman, asking her if Wallace was pressing charges against them. She said she feared for her safety and extra patrol officers were posted in her neighborhood.
Police arrested Sylvester and charged him with robbery and aggravated battery with great bodily harm.
Sylvester, who was facing a five-year prison sentence, immediately invoked his fifth-amendment right to remain silent.
(Continued next post)
#2 Sep 9, 2010
(Continued from previous post)
After serving seven months in jail, he was scheduled to go to trial May 13, 2009. Three days prior, he agreed to a plea deal.
Terms of Sylvester’s probation included that he report his correct address to his probation officer. He couldn’t move without the officer’s consent. He also had to submit to random drug tests and pay $30-a-month restitution for the three years and seven months of his probation.
Sylvester’s attorney, Peter Lombardo, asked that the North Port High School dropout be allowed to transfer his probation to Arizona or California so he could go to school and work. Shortly after the paperwork was filed, the state attempted to block the request, saying Sylvester was a potential witness in the Teehee case.
Lombardo said his client didn’t have knowledge of a crime that occurred in Charlotte County. He petitioned the court again in April, asking for the out-of-state probation transfer and adding Sylvester had his probation officer Karen Freeman’s blessing.
The request was denied.
Instead, on Aug. 23, Freeman filed paperwork claiming Sylvester violated his probation after five months of not living at the North Port address listed in court documents. A judge issued a warrant for Sylvester’s arrest.
On Friday, Sylvester turned himself in and was released the next day on $2,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 17 in Sarasota.
Loosman’s mother, Linda, has been helping Sylvester with his legal troubles. She said Wednesday things aren’t as they appear.
“This violation is not valid,” she said.“The probation officer writes that Mike did not live at his address and has not since April. I would like to see how she is going to explain how the previous probation officer wrote in May that he was in good standing and should be released from probation. We are a close family, and what they are now trying to do to Mike is wrong.”
As far as his involvement in the Teehee case, investigators say they don’t have anything to ask him at this time.
“The charges were dropped in this case, so unless something else comes up and something changes, we don’t have anything else to ask Mr. Sylvester,” said FHP Capt. John Donovan.“We are still the lead investigators in the Teehee case. I’m not saying it’s in limbo because we are working behind the scenes. We interviewed 50 witnesses. I know the Teehee family would like closure.”
Samantha Syoen, a spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, said she couldn’t answer why the state didn’t work with Freeman to help serve the subpoena in July or August when Sylvester checked in for his monthly probation visit.
“We are reviewing our options of what’s possible in this case,” Syoen said.“I cannot answer any other questions because this is an ongoing case.”
E-mail: [email protected]
#3 Sep 9, 2010
where were his children when this fine daddy was out for a stroll?????
#4 Sep 9, 2010
charges dropped. case over.
#6 Dec 2, 2010
you have some nerve being sarcastic about Teehee. where were Looseman, Sylvester, and Tricarico's parents when they were out beating the shit out of people for dvd's and selling drugs? really you have some nerve "childres keeper." case was dropped because these kids were hiding from the situation they were clearly involved in. you have issues as well i can see.
#7 Dec 12, 2010
In Vegas Baby!! Hiding out!!! On the Run!!! Running from state to state to state.
#8 Feb 19, 2013
This entire Teehee case has been mishandled and screwed up by the judicial system from the beginning. It's disgracful and shameful. It's obvious that Looseman and his family are lying and hiding information regarding everything from even knowing Teehee to hiding Sylvester. What kind of a loser and coward is this Sylvester and Tricario- their parents should be ashamed of their kids. I love my teenage boys and I recognize that teenagers can get into trouble but step-up and be parents. Make your kids fess up to what they have/have not done to the police and give the Teehee family some answers and closure. These kids and parents make me sick. I'm glad I live in Canada where people seem to know right from wrong and take responsibility for what they've done. It's shameful.
#9 Feb 19, 2013
My friend that works for the Sheriff's dept. said there was an out of state Pvt. Investigator there today and she heard from a coworker that some TV crime show had hired him. I bet this case is going to be ongoing again.When things get on National TV, it seems to get everyone's attention.Wouldn't surprise me if some people in the Police dept. might be investigated as well.
#11 Feb 19, 2013
You are a horrible excuse for a human being! You should refrain from posting any comments because YOU are an illiterate hillbilly and should NOT be throwing stones!
#12 Feb 3, 2015
I agree - how horrible to sue this poor woman after her son died! And after he tried to help Alex. Heathen hillbillies is too good a word for them. Profiting from these tragedies is despicable!!! The sister probably didn't help matters either - she had a big mouth and was a hateful person before her brother died. If I were the prosecutor I wouldn't want to talk to her or help her either!!!
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