FORT MYERS, Fla. - Documents obtained exclusively by WINK News continue to shed light on a Christmas tragedy that cost one man his life, and may cost a former State's Attorney Investigator his freedom.
Charles Lawson is facing felony charges related to the hit-and-run death of Michael Sasen in the minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve. Both men had left separate parties earlier in the evening, and had been drinking, according to authorities.
Their paths crossed on McGregor Blvd. near the Tanglewood subdivision when investigators say Lawson struck and killed Sasen. Lawson was in his state issued car, which sustained damage to the passenger-side headlight and windshield.
In newly obtained audio recordings, we hear for the first time from one of Lawson's coworkers. Keith Munzert had hosted the party Lawson attended earlier in the evening. Munzert says Lawson left around 9:30, after several glasses of wine. Munzert told authorities he walked Lawson out, and that he appeared to be fine.
"If he was stumbling or doing anything, I wouldn't have let him drive," Munzert told FHP investigators the next day.
Cell phone records reveal Munzert sent a text message to Lawson at 10:58 that evening, asking if he had made it home safely. Lawson didn't respond, or answer three phone calls from Munzert in the next hour.
At 11:56, records show Lawson finally sent a one-word return response: "Yup."
Then came the first 911 call from a witness at 11:59.
"I was just driving by and this guy walked out into a street and another car hit him and that car took off," the caller told 911 dispatchers in the seconds before midnight.
The texting continued between Lawson and Munzert.
Unaware of what had just happened, Munzert replied to Lawson at 12:03, writing: "Ok, great!!!"
Lawson sent another response within 30 seconds: "See u Thursday."
It wasn't until about 12:30 in the morning that Munzert said Lawson called him, speaking clearly but quickly.
"He didn't sound like he was out of it or anything, but he told me that he though he hit someone on McGregor," Munzert can be heard saying in a recorded interview with authorities. "He said the guy was right in the middle of the road."
Munzert said Lawson described damage to the windshield, and told Munzert he was going to go back to the scene to see what happened. Munzert said he told Lawson that was the right thing to do, and to be careful.
"He told me, 'I'll deal with it. I'll take my lumps,'" Munzert told investigators.
Back at the scene, Lawson was arrested after failing a field sobriety test, which FHP cameras recorded. He declined a breath test, and no blood sample was taken. Highway Patrol troopers at the scene say Lawson sounded fine, but smelled of alcohol, was unstable on his feet, and was unable to successfully follow instructions during the sobriety check.
Autopsy results also revealed Sasen had been drinking. Friends at a party with Sasen earlier in the evening say it was a difficult holiday for him, as it would be his first Christmas since the death of his son.