Winter Haven Police Department Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were honored for their work on the Perry Lee Chance case. Chance robbed and beat an elderly woman and fled the scene in her vehicle. The victim later died. He was found guilty of burglary with assault, robbery and kidnapping and was sentenced to life.

Haas honors WHPD Detectives Garrett Boyd, Nicholas Gregory

State Attorney Brian Haas started a new tradition at the State Attorney’s Office yesterday. At our annual awards ceremony, some special law enforcement officers were recognized who – in the past year – have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community.

“We are blessed in the tenth circuit to have many wonderful officers and deputies. Each day and night they put on their uniforms to protect us, not knowing if they’ll ever return home,” State Attorney Haas said. “They investigate cases and do not give up until every lead is pursued and every angle is worked.”

Winter Haven Police Department Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were honored for their work on the Perry Lee Chance case.

Winter Haven Police Department Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were honored for their work on the Perry Lee Chance case. Chance robbed and beat an elderly woman and fled the scene in her vehicle. The victim later died. He was found guilty of burglary with assault, robbery and kidnapping and was sentenced to life.

When Perry Lee Chance walked into the Winter Haven clothing store where 82-year-old Carol Sleeth was working, Sleeth had no way of knowing the same man would return four days later, rob her and beat her.

Surveillance video shows Chance walking into the store Sept. 16, 2014, where he took money out of the register and beat the victim with his fists. Chance tied her up, gagged her and left her in the store while he stole her keys out of her purse and drove off in her car.

Sleeth called police after she broke free from her bonds and removed the gag from her mouth. She told law enforcement Chance kept “beating and beating” her and that she was “bleeding all over.”

The victim identified Chance as her attacker shortly after the incident. She had a stroke about a year later, which led to her death.

Winter Haven Police Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were assigned the case.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Alamia said that a lot of investigative work went into this case.

Boyd and Gregory tracked Chance’s cell phone and located him driving up Interstate-75 in the victim’s vehicle. They plotted it the entire way and found that Chance was up in St. Johns County.

Alamia said Boyd and Gregory went to arrest Chance themselves. When they stopped the car Chance was driving, they found the phone they’d been tracking, the backpack Chance wore in the surveillance video and – laid out on the seat – the shirt and shorts that he was wearing.

But one of the most significant pieces of evidence was that Chance’s cell phone pinged within a mile of the store at the time of the crime. In addition to the phone evidence, Boyd and Gregory compiled surveillance footage of Chance from surrounding areas, leaving no doubt Chance was the one who committed the crime.

Boyd and Gregory were actively involved with the investigation from start to finish, including helping rebuild the case when the victim died.

Chance was found guilty of burglary with an assault, robbery, kidnapping to facilitate a felony, aggravated battery and burglary. He was sentenced to life.

In addition to the time spent working with Alamia, he said, Boyd had a lot of interaction with the victim’s son.

“The victim’s son spoke very highly of Boyd. After we got the conviction, he went to talk to Boyd and thank him. They had a personal connection beyond the fact that he investigated the case,” Alamia said, adding that it was another way Boyd showed his dedication to the case.

“The two detectives went above and beyond the call of duty in assembling the evidence in this case and ensuring the conviction in trial,” Haas said. “They even drove up to St. Johns County, where they arrested the defendant and recovered key evidence in the case.”

Polk County Sheriff's Office Detective Matthew Newbold was honored for his work on the Carl McCauley case. McCauley sexually assaulted and brutally murdered a 41-year-old woman. It was a 30-year-old cold case Newbold solved. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery and was immediately sentenced to life in prison.

Haas honors PCSO Detective Matthew Newbold

State Attorney Brian Haas started a new tradition at the State Attorney’s Office yesterday. At our annual awards ceremony, some special law enforcement officers were recognized who – in the past year – have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community.

“We are blessed in the tenth circuit to have many wonderful officers and deputies. Each day and night they put on their uniforms to protect us, not knowing if they’ll ever return home,” State Attorney Haas said. “They investigate cases and do not give up until every lead is pursued and every angle is worked.”

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detective Matthew Newbold was honored for his work on the Carl McCauley case.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detective Matthew Newbold was honored for his work on the Carl McCauley case. McCauley sexually assaulted and brutally murdered a 41-year-old woman. It was a 30-year-old cold case Newbold solved. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery and was immediately sentenced to life in prison.

When Charles Watson Sr. got home from work on Mar. 24, 1987, he found his wife stabbed to death on their couch.

Karen Ann Watson, 41, of Lake Wales, was sexually battered and brutally murdered the day before her twin sons’ 16th birthday. Nearly 30 years passed before her family saw the case come to a close.

Karen Watson was getting ready to leave her home off Old Polk City Road and head to work. Watson and her eldest son, Charles Watson Jr., worked at Disney, and she was known to leave her house at exactly 1 p.m. to make it on time.

Watson called her son about 12:30 p.m. She was at home alone getting ready for work.

It wasn’t until just past 1 p.m. until a neighbor started to suspect something was wrong.

The neighbor drove past Watson’s home, she noticed a few things that didn’t sit right with her: Watson’s car was still in the driveway, and a vehicle she’d never seen before was parked on the road in front of the house.

The neighbor looked up in the rear view mirror and saw a man run from one side of the road, past the car, and make a beeline for the front of that trailer. That man was not the victim’s husband.

The victim’s husband got home about 1:30 p.m. to find his wife slumped over on their couch with blood spatter on the wall behind her and on the carpet in front of her. She’d been stabbed 11 times in her torso, neck, throat and face and had pierced internal organs.

When law enforcement arrived – in addition to the blood found on and around the couch – they found specks of blood and other bodily fluids on Watson’s bed. But because DNA science was still new in the late 1980s, they were unable to identify whose fluids were found.

The case went cold.

The Watson case was a 27-year-old cold case when Detective Matt Newbold opened the file.

Newbold met with Assistant State Attorney John Waters to discuss the case. At the first meeting, Newbold told John that he’d solved the case.

In 1998, a DNA profile was obtained from the victim’s husband., and he was ruled out as a suspect. It wasn’t until 2014 that Newbold found McCauley in Ohio and sat him down for an interview.

Newbold solved the case, with good, old-fashioned detective work.

He flew to Ohio a few times, and I’m told He has a horrible fear of flying, but he was willing to risk life and limb and sanity.

When Newbold interviewed Carl McCauley, he denied knowing Watson, being intimate with her or ever being in her house, yet his DNA was a complete match.

Newbold got denial after denial from McCauley and crazy explanations out of him – so much so that the evidence in trial was used to prove he was lying.

According to John Waters, “That was what put the nails in the coffin,” “It wasn’t a “confession” but was as good or better because we could prove he was lying.”

Newbold was fully involved with the case. He had an amazing ability to relate to the victim’s family and helped them get through it.”

When solving a case from 1987, modern detective skills and forensic science is helpful, but this one was solved by getting out there and beating the bushes.

John Waters said, “it is without a doubt the best detective work I’ve ever seen.”

Newbold sat with our prosecutors through the two-week trial, his involvement during the trial phase was invaluable.

After only four hours of deliberation following a two-week trial, Carl McCauley, 67, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery. He was immediately sentenced to life for both counts by Judge Harb.

Detective Newbold’s tenacity and passion was unbelievable. Because of his work and those who worked with him at the sheriff’s office and our homicide prosecutors, John Waters, Kristie Ducharme and Hope Pattey, Carl McCauley will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Without Matt Newbold, a killer would still be living in freedom and Watson’s family wouldn’t have the closure they now have.

Man steals ATM with excavator, is guilty of grand theft

JURY VERDICT: Man steals ATM with excavator, is guilty of grand theft

Jesus Sanchez Sanchez stole a excavator and used it to rip an ATM out of a Winter Haven bank and place it in the bed of his truck, causing over $120,000 in damage.

During the commission of the crime, Sanchez Sanchez caused $120,000 in damage – $50,000 to the building, $50,000 to the ATM and the $20,000 inside the ATM. He is facing life in prison.

He and an accomplice then covered the mangled ATM with a tarp and drove on back roads in Winter Haven before being pulled over by law enforcement.

A jury found 52-year-old Sanchez Sanchez guilty May 5 of grand theft of $100,000 or more, burglary of a dwelling with over $1,000 in damage, grand theft with over $1,000 in damage and burglary of a conveyance. As a habitual felony offender, he is facing life in prison and will be sentenced June 29.

Assistant State Attorneys Bonde Johnson and Jennifer Van Der Burgh tried the case. Johnson told jurors in opening statements to pay close attention to the timeline, as it would help prove Sanchez Sanchez was guilty.

The bank alarms went off at about 11:13 p.m., and surveillance video shows the truck – holding the ATM – pull away at 11:15 p.m. But about a 20 minute gap remained in the timeline from the moment the bank alarms went off to the moment law enforcement stopped him at 11:39.

Johnson told jurors that a GPS was seized from the truck that would help clear that gap in the timeline.

“The device he used as a way to escape actually became what did the defendant in,” Johnson said.

The defense claimed that in the 20 minute gap, Sanchez Sanchez’s accomplice dropped him off to buy cigarettes and used his truck to steal the ATM alone. His attorney argued that the accomplice returned to pick up Sanchez with the ATM already in the truck bed.

But Johnson told jurors that, through impression evidence, a bootprint found at the construction site where the excavator was stolen matched the boots Sanchez Sanchez was wearing at the time of the crime.

Jesus Sanchez Sanchez

He also said a piece of the ATM that matched the stolen one was found in a neighborhood near the Winter Haven bank, opposite of the direction Sanchez Sanchez began driving when the GPS started transmitting data at 11:22 p.m – leaving an eight-minute gap.

Law enforcement timed the drive from the bank to the neighborhood where the ATM piece was found and then to where the GPS first pings – it was almost four and a half minutes.

The defense still argued that there was enough of a gap for the accomplice to commit the crime alone. But Johnson reminded the jurors in closing statements that they still needed time to cover the ATM with a tarp.

“Is that three or so minutes enough to get a tarp on or enough to do the thousand things the defense suggested?” Johnson asked the jury. “Unless they pulled a James Bond and one of them crawled out of a moving vehicle to put a tarp on while driving, it’s not possible.”

Not only would putting on a tarp most likely take two people, Johnson said, someone would need to drive the excavator while the other pulls the truck up to load the ATM into it and drive away.

“This had to be a two person job,” Johnson said. “You need two drivers for that.”

Laster, 43, of Lakeland, gets fingerprinted Monday after being sentenced to life in prison for attempted second-degree murder.

SENTENCING UPDATE: Lakeland man sentenced to life for attempted second-degree murder

Judge Wayne Durden told Tyrone Laster Monday that there wasn’t a single aspect of his case that wasn’t tragic.

Laster, 43, shot his friend Chauncey Rollins in the back of the head over a money discrepancy in a drug deal. Rollins was $20 short after finalizing a deal, and Laster was angry about it.

“You don’t think I’ll shoot you?” Laster asked Rollins on June 10, 2015, placing the gun on the back of his head and eventually pulling the trigger.

Rollins was in a coma for two months, lost the use of his arms and legs and is confined to a wheelchair.

Prior to the sentencing, Laster’s attorney asked Durden to show mercy on him, but Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter told the judge Laster should be sentenced to the fullest.

Laster’s actions may not have resulted in death, Nutter said, but they did result in a life condemned to a wheelchair.

“He had a life, and it was taken from him,” Nutter said. “The state is asking the court to show no mercy. He (Laster) did not show mercy to Chauncey.”

Laster, 43, of Lakeland, gets fingerprinted Monday after being sentenced to life in prison for attempted second-degree murder.

Durden sentenced Laster to life in prison, adding that the case is an extreme result of drugs and drug use.

“If not for their involvement in drugs, neither would be here today,” Durden addressed both Laster and Rollins. “The defendant has ruined his own life. The victim has significantly diminished the quality of his own life.”

Durden also reminded Laster that he was a habitual offender with a criminal history that spanned 22 years, resulting in a total of 15 felonies and 22 misdemeanors.

“Laster, this is one of the tragic things about this case,” Durden said, referring to his family’s testimony. “It’s amazing to me how much potential you have, and you’ve wasted it.”