Appeals court overturns Lee County man’s manslaughter conviction

It’s rare, but an appeals court decided to order a new trial for a local man convicted of manslaughter. Meanwhile, the family of the victim remains in seclusion after the decision caught them off guard. We spoke to a lawyer to gain insight to the court’s decision.

The family of victim Fritz Timmermann is left with questions rather than closure after an appeals court decided to order a new trial for the man accused of shooting him to death.

In 2017, a jury convicted Dalvon Lawrence of firing bullets toward Timmermann in his car on Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers and killing him.

With the court overturning those convictions, Michael Raheb, a criminal defense attorney, said the appeals court must have found something seriously wrong with the case.

“Clearly this is a major mistake because this is not some minor fact,” Raheb said.

It’s a terrible blow for the prosecution, who believed they proved Lawrence shot and killed a man in Southwest Florida.

During Lawrence’s trial, the state called an inmate to the stand, who at one point told investigators Lawrence confessed to the shooting. But that inmate later recanted his statement, even saying so on the stand at trail. Prosecutors reacted by calling the investigators who spoke to the inmate originally. The appeals court ruled the testimony inadmissible hearsay.

“That’s not allowed in a court of law,” Raheb said. “You’re trying to use an inconsistent statement against someone with the sole purpose of showing that they somehow lied.”

Raheb believes the debate over whether Lawrence made the confession or not was a huge part of the case.

“It’s saying that the individual accused of the crime committed the crime,” Raheb said. “This is not some minor issue.”

Raheb said there are three things that could happen now. The state attorney’s office could take this to trial again, drop the charges or strike a deal with Lawrence. The office said it’s reviewing the court’s opinion.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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