Kin try to cope after slaying
Pallavi Agarwal | Highlands TodaySEBRING - The family of Aaron Doty has received some closure now that authorities have apprehended the two men charged with killing him early Sunday, said a person close to his family.
Published: June 15, 2012
Published: June 15, 2012
On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Marshal's Service Task Force, operating out of Orlando, apprehended Jonathan Ray Rodriguez, 22, and Kenneth Edwards Felipe Jr., 19, who had been on the run since arrest warrants were issued for them Monday.
Authorities allege Rodriguez and Felipe beat Doty at a party at their home, left him unconscious outside, where he died, and then dumped his body in the woods in Sun 'n Lake and burned it to destroy evidence.
The executive pastor of Grace Bible Church, where several Doty family members attend, said they are coping with the loss of the 20-year-old with an "incredible amount of grace," even as they make arrangements for his funeral at 2 p.m. Saturday at the church.
"It's an incredible tragedy," said Dustin Woods, who has known both Aaron Doty and Rodriguez for several years.
Doty's death has devastated his family. It also has left the Rodriguez family "incredibly heartbroken," Woods said.
"The Rodriguez family is a great family; they are very respected" and repeatedly tried to help the troubled 22-year-old change his ways, Woods added.
"It was not an issue of bad parenting. … They tried to reach him, steer him down the right road," the pastor said, "but he chose to go the other way."
As the dust starts to settle on the tragedy, questions remain.
Many in the community are questioning why others at the party did not call authorities or get medical help when they reportedly saw Doty incapacitated after the fight.
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office did not receive any 911 calls at or after the party and learned of Doty's disappearance after his family reported him missing Sunday afternoon.
According to the arrest affidavit, at least two witnesses, both juveniles, told authorities they saw him lying unconscious outside on the concrete, with blood on the back of his head, making moaning sounds and having a hard time breathing.
It is not known how many party-goers lingered during the altercation, which reportedly took place between 5 and 6 a.m. Sunday. But the affidavit lists the names of at least 10 witnesses, half of them underage.
Jay Corzine, a professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, blames a combination of factors for why nobody chose to alert authorities or get medical help.
He referred to what is called the bystander effect — in which a group of people may see something happen that requires their intervention but defuse personal responsibility by saying or thinking that someone else will get help.
While the bystander effect did play a role, Corzine figures what complicated the situation Sunday was the combination of alcohol and age.
Those who were underage and were drinking may have been afraid to get into trouble, he said. Since the incident happened early Sunday, and assuming the drinking had been going on all night, those present were probably drunk, he said, and inebriated people don't make good decisions.
Another group of people who generally are not used to handling crises such as this — when someone's life is at stake — are the youths, he added, because they are accustomed to having adults handle such situations.
Corzine described the situation as a "really bad judgment call … it's not a commentary on our youth. It's much more complicated than that."
While those who were present may have been morally obligated to get help, Stetson University College of Law professor Bruce Jacob said it appears nothing in Florida law makes it a criminal act not to – at least in that situation.
According to Florida Statute 843.21: "A person who takes custody of or exercises control over a person he or she knows to be injured as a result of criminal activity and deprives that person of medical care with the intent to avoid, delay, hinder, or obstruct any investigation of the criminal activity contributing to the injury commits:
"(1) If the victim's medical condition worsens as a result of the deprivation of medical care, a felony of the third degree" …
"(2) If deprivation of medical care contributes or results in the death of the victim, a felony of the second degree."
Florida Statute 877.15 requires people to report a dangerous fire, while Florida Statute 843.06 requires people to help peace officers in the execution on their duties.
"There needs to be a law," said the professor, speaking of the Doty incident. If people have to report a dangerous fire, they should be required to report serious medical situations, he said.
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