DUI manslaughter defendant catches another break in Pinellas cou - WNCN: News, Weather

DUI manslaughter defendant catches another break in Pinellas court

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PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Pinellas prosecutors say Garrett Bruce was driving drunk the night he slammed into a Tarpon Springs power pole in 2011 killing one of his passengers, Patrick Vosbein.

Now, more than two years after that fatal crash and months after Bruce fled to Texas to avoid trial, the justice system is still cutting him breaks.

Bruce's case has had seven trial delays already and is on hold again.

"It's just not fair," said Vosbein's mother Patricia Walker."It should be over, it's not fair."

In a Pinellas courtroom Friday morning the Pinellas prosecutor, judge and two defense attorneys had trouble sorting out who is representing Bruce. That mix up, in effect, has created the eighth trial delay in Bruce's case.

"I don't want this sort of ambiguity and confusion," Judge R. Timothy Peters told Bruce's current defense lawyer Rex Blake. "You have not been removed from the case. You may be removed, but you haven't been yet."

Blake said he wants to quit the case because Bruce ran away before his trial against his advice, but Blake hasn't filed any written motions to remove himself as Bruce's defense attorney.

"You are and were the attorney of record and nothing ever happened to terminate that," Judge Peters said.

The Pinellas Public Defender's Office has agreed to take over the case but the Pinellas Court Clerk's Office hasn't verified that Bruce is poor enough for taxpayers to pick up his legal tab.

Friday marked the 18th time the victim's mother Patricia Walker showed up for one of Bruce's hearings. She later burst into tears during an interview with Eight On Your Side.

My son is in heaven and his ashes sitting on the shelf and he's [Bruce] just been out doing what he wanted to do," said Walker.

The judge set a hearing for March 31st to sort out who will now represent Bruce on felony charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and failure to appear.

There is no current trial date in the case due to the ongoing uncertainty over who represents Bruce.

Bruce faces between 10 and 11 years in prison under state sentencing guidelines if a jury eventually convicts him on all charges.

"Someday it'll be over and he'll be in prison," said Walker.

Walker says she will return for the 19th time on March 31st when attorneys hope to sort out all the confusion in the case at the next pretrial hearing.  Tonight at five, Eight On Your Side will investigate how justice delayed has become justice denied in the case of Garrett Bruce.

Related Story: No bond for Garrett Bruce

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