Mistrial declared in Crabfest shooting case

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New information halts Ocasio trial

By Lou Elliott Jones

 A mistrial was granted Wednesday morning in the trial of Devonte Tremaine Ocasio, 20, in the Williston Crab Fest shootings after information received late in the case about Ocasio's arrest came to the attention of his attorneys.

Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge Stan Griffis III granted the defense motion for a mistrial after defense attorneys also waived their prior motion demanding a speedy trial on chages of homicide, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. 

Assistant State Attorney Bill Ezell told witnesses and one victim's family after the ruling that "This is the right thing to do." He assured them the case will be brought again. granted motion for mistrial. "It's the right thing on the part of all parties. Any time parties go to trial, more information is better."

The late information was related to actions during Ocasio's arrest in Marion County. He was arrested just days after the shooting.


Michael Bryant, Ocasio's lead defense attorney, said, "A legal issue came up that rsulted in a need to start the trial over." He said the new information could lead to a change in strategy for the defense.

"There was inform that the state came into possession of late and it brought up a legal issue and a possible change in trial strategy."

Bryant said it presented the opportunity to start the case over.

"You have to understand that in demanding a speedy trial it doesn't stop information from coming in," Bryant said. "The proper remedy in  this situation is to terminate this trial and retry the case."

It was the third day of the trial and the state was expected to wrap up its case. 

Ocasio is accused of opening fire with a Targus Millenium .45 caliber handgun and killing Barry Barney, 36, and wounding five others during the April 27 Williston Crab Fest, an annual event that is not formally organized, but is attended by several thousand people from other cities and states. 

Assistant State Attorney Darla K. Whistler said in her opening statement that Ocasio was angry with Daryl Rehm because a handgun he gave Rehm to keep was instead sold. 

More details on what Whistler's opening statement and what was to be presented by the prosecution are in the Williston Pioneer going on newsstands this evening.