Internet meeting leads to rendezvous, suspected murder

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Many people in Orlando and Central Florida use the internet to find people with similar interests and tastes. Some internet meetings result in friendship or romance, and some have far more tragic consequences. The recent arrest of a man suspected of murder provides an example of two men meeting for friendship and ending in violence.

According to police, the two men first met by exchanging telephone calls on Oct. 4. The two men met later that day, and the victim took several nude photographs of his new friend. Police have alleged that the subject of the photographs shot and killed the other man. According to the arrest warrant in the case, the suspect allegedly showed up at his brother-in-law's house looking for materials to hide and perhaps bury a body. The man is alleged to have asked his brother-in-law how far offshore he would need to travel to dispose of a body. Four days later, the Sarasota County Sheriff's office received notice from the Collier County sheriff's office that they had found the body of the missing man. The body was found wrapped in carpeting and plastic bags near a house under construction.

The suspect was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Unit. Police have alleged that the victim was never seen after the two men met on Oct. 4. Crime scene investigators were able to obtain several latent fingerprints from the plastic bags and tape used to conceal the body. When police searched the victim's home, they found packing materials similar to those used on the victim's body. When police inspected the victim's iPhone, they found records of the phone calls between the men and the photographs that were taken by the victim. The suspect is expected to be transferred to Sarasota County to face murder charges.

The evidence in this case may seem strong, but the suspect is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until he has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone facing similar charges is entitled to the same presumption. A consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney may be helpful because a knowledgeable lawyer may be able to provide a helpful evaluation of the case, to suggest possible defense strategy and, where appropriate, assist in negotiating a plea agreement.

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