If you break the law- don't blog about it
A Florida teenager is learning just that. Blake Ranking admitted to his responsibility in the DUI death of a friend. This blog entry was used against Ranking who pleaded guilty to the charges and faces sentencing on December 29th.
I'm certain they'll be more cases like this in the years ahead. The moral of this story- If you break the law, don't tell it to anyone. Better yet, don't break the law.
Open Post- Is it just me?, Third World County, Adam's Blog, Bright & Early, Right Wing Nation,
TAVARES -- "I did it."
Blake Ranking was a Eustis High School senior and still aching from a horrible crash three days earlier when he posted those words on blurty .com, a site for Web logs.
"It was me who caused it. I turned the wheel. I turned the wheel that sent us off the road, into the concrete drain . . .," he wrote as his best friend, Jason Coker, 17, lay in a coma at Orlando Regional Medical Center. "How can I be fine when everyone else is so messed up?"
Coker never awoke from the crash Oct. 3, 2004. He died Jan. 11.
Although Ranking later retracted his words -- deleting them from the blog and penning an explanation -- they came back to haunt him, forcing him Monday to plead guilty to DUI manslaughter.
He could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
But defense lawyer John Spivey and Assistant State Attorney Julie Greenberg recommended five years in prison, 10 years of probation and a permanent license suspension.
Circuit Judge Mark Hill agreed to impose the sentence Dec. 28.
Ranking, now 18, was in the back seat of the car that crashed, fatally injuring Coker and seriously injuring Nicole Robinette, who was driving.
But Ranking was charged as the driver because he yanked the steering wheel. Investigators focused on him after interviewing witnesses, including Robinette, and after viewing Ranking's "confession."
Greenberg said she had planned to use the blog as evidence, a first for the office covering Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, but almost certainly not the last.
"Anytime a defendant confesses, that is very relevant and important," she said.
As blogs replace personal diaries and journals, prosecutors are more likely to use them to prove cases, said Bill Gladson, supervisor of the State Attorney's Office in Lake County.
Spivey said he is defending two clients on molestation charges that grew, in part, from disclosures the alleged victim confided on a blog, a trend he expects will continue.
Danielle Tavernier, spokeswoman for the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office in Orlando, said she was unaware of any prosecutors using blogs as evidence in that circuit.
Like millions of teens, Ranking, Coker and Robinette spent hours online.
They mused about movies, music and many miscellaneous, mundane matters. They blogged about friendship, love and personal events -- including the crash and its aftermath.
Tests of Ranking's blood after the crash measured its alcohol level at 0.185, more than double the amount at which Florida law presumes a motorist to be too drunk to drive.
He and Coker were Robinette's passengers when her car veered off a lighted stretch of State Road 19 between Eustis and Umatilla about 2 a.m. They had been at a party in the woods.
The somersaulting car spit all three out its windows and landed on Coker, who was flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Robinette, 17 at the time of the accident, also was seriously injured. Blood tests showed no traces of alcohol or drugs in her system, prosecutors said.