Eric Cerruti

Lakeland Instagram stalker sentenced to prison

Eric Cerruti

Eric Cerruti

A 54-year-old Lakeland man who stalked a 19-year-old woman on Instagram for months has been sentenced to 3½-years in prison.

Eric Cerruti pleaded no contest to the charge of written threats to kill or do bodily harm, a second degree felony. In addition to the prison sentence, Circuit Judge Michael McDaniel sentenced Cerruti in July to six years of probation, which includes not having any devices with Internet capabilities and no contact with the victim.

Assistant State Attorney Tim Coleman prosecuted the case.

The stalking began in August, 2018 ,when Cerruti told the victim over Instagram that he saw her “around Lakeland a lot” and planned to “put a bullet” to her head. The victim told Polk Sheriff’s detectives that she thought the stalking had ended after she blocked the suspect.

In October, 2018, the victim again received threatening messages on Instagram from a different Instagram username. This time, Cerruti sent a picture of himself to her while he was holding a knife. Detectives tracked the suspect to his home in Lakeland where he told law enforcement he picked random people to troll on Instagram, and had made dozens of accounts because he continued to be blocked. He told law enforcement that he had a drinking problem, but “didn’t want to use that as an excuse,” according to an arrest report.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks ASA Coleman and Polk Sheriff’s detectives for their work on the case.

 

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Johnny Emmons

Lake Wales man sentenced to 15 years for having child porn

Johnny Emmons

Johnny Emmons

A Lake Wales man was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this month after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

Johnny Emmons, 29, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography, a second degree felony, and also admitted to violating his probation from a 2015 child porn case.

In January, 2019,  the Sheriff’s Office received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that included images and videos from Emmons’ Tumblr account. The files showed young children having sex with adults and other children.

Detectives tracked Emmons to an apartment in Lake Wales where they searched the home and found a cell phone with images of child pornography.

Circuit Judge William Sites sentenced Emmons, who also was designated a sexual predator by Sites because this was his second qualifying sexual offense.

Assistant State Attorney Monica Smith prosecuted the case.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks ASA Smith and Polk Sheriff’s detectives for their work on the case.

 

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Heather Beato

Longtime Assistant State Attorney appointed to Circuit bench

State Attorney Brian Haas congratulates Assistant State Attorney Heather Beato on her appointment to the 10th Judicial Circuit bench. ASA Beato, a prosecutor in the Sebring office, has been with the State Attorney’s Office since graduating from the Florida State University College of Law in 2002.

Heather Beato

Heather Beato

 

Andre Warner

Auburndale man convicted of fatally shooting man during home invasion

Andre Warner

Andre Warner

Assistant State Attorney Kristie Ducharme secured a conviction in March when jurors found a 30-year-old Auburndale man guilty of fatally shooting a man during a home invasion robbery.

Andre Warner, one of four co-defendants in the case, now faces the death penalty for shooting and killing Adam Hilarie in 2016.

A new 12-person jury will be chosen in the coming months to decide whether to recommend a death sentence for Warner. Circuit Judge Jalal Harb dismissed the initial jury because of delays due to the coronavirus.  Harb will make the final decision if jurors recommend Warner be sentenced to death.

After a three-week trial, jurors deliberated three hours before reaching a guilty verdict. Warner was convicted of first degree murder, robbery with a firearm, burglary to a dwelling with a weapon, and conspiracy armed robbery with a firearm.

Ducharme said in her closing arguments that jurors had received substantial evidence to convict Warner.

“Ask yourself one question: if you have any reasonable doubt in your minds that Andre Warner is not the one responsible for robbing and murder Adam,” Ducharme said. “I’m confident based on the evidence that the answer to that question is no.”

The trial received national attention.

The victim met Hailey Bustos through a dating website, then went on a date with her on Aug. 19, 2016. After their date, Bustos, Warner and other co-defendants went to the victim’s apartment to rob him. During testimony, Bustos said Warner fired a single gunshot into the back of the victim’s head.

Ducharme said the victim, the father of a 5-year-old girl, begged for his life because he had a daughter.

“The fear [he] must have felt in that moment,” Ducharme said. Ducharme had said that when Warner and co-defendants returned to the car, they were laughing that the victim had begged for his life.

State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Ducharme and the Auburndale Police Department for their work on the case.

 

 

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