On last week’s episode of Below Deck, Head Stew Kate Chastain invited her girlfriend at the time, Ro Hernandez, to visit her on her day off at a Caribbean resort. We got to see a whole lot of PDA between the two and assess their interactions. Ro seemed quite into Kate and perhaps a bit possessive. Maybe it was just early in their relationship. These scenes were filmed months before the night in June that there was a violent altercation between the two. The police were called and Kate was arrested and booked into the local jail.
In August Kate was officially charged with domestic violence by strangulation, a felony, and another misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. According to the police report obtained by FloridaToday, Kate ” bit her girlfriend on the forearm, inner bicep and leg; held her down and “strangled” her; put her knee on her head and pulled her hair; and covered her mouth and pinched her nose so she couldn’t breathe.”
This week FloridaToday announced that a docket sounding is set for November 7th at the Moore Justice Center in Viera. In a criminal case, a docket sounding is the last pretrial step before the trial date where the prosecutor and the defense meet with the judge to see if the case is ready to go forward on the assigned date or to reschedule the date. It is also the last chance for the defendant to take a plea deal. It’s likely the prosecutor has offered a plea at this point. If the felony charge is dropped, it’s likely that Kate will take the deal. If it is not she may want to continue to trial in order to keep the felony off her record.
As I said previously, Kate had a real estate attorney, likely a friend of hers or her family, representing her. This was unwise. That attorney, Gary Frese said on behalf of Kate, “Ms. Kate Chastain regrets the incident that occurred between her and Ms. (Rocio) Hernandez. The version of the incident told to the police by Ms. Hernandez is completely fictitious. Ms. Hernandez, a former professional fitness trainer over six feet tall, physically attacked Ms. Chastain who tried her best to defend herself during the attack. Ms. Chastain is of very slight build and is 5 foot 7 inches tall. At no time was Ms. Chastain the aggressor in the altercation. When all the actual facts are determined in the legal process Ms. Chastain will be completely vindicated and Ms. Hernandez will be shown to have a history of violent behavior and to have completely misrepresented the facts to the police about Ms. Chastain’s actions.” Basically, he says Ro is lying and Kate was the aggressor.
I presume that the police documented some injuries and found that Ro took the brunt of the injuries in the altercation. The police did not witness the actual altercation .
It seems that Kate has now managed to secure a criminal defense attorney, Kepler Funk, who released his own statement to FloridaToday on Friday. “Many times over the years, my office has stated that just because the government says it’s so doesn’t make it so, ” Funk stated. “This case is no different. We have begun our investigation into the allegation and will come to conclusions when our process is complete. If the government got it right all the time, we wouldn’t have Brian Heizman, James Jackson, Billy Thornton, Selma Sodre, Brian Crowder, William Dillon … and the list goes on.”
I don’t have a good feeling about this attorney either. The people he lists are apparently people arrested in Florida who were not convicted. Selma Sodre is a Brazilian woman accused of drowning her wealthy husband before he could divorce her in 1997. Brian Crowder, according to Google, is “a vagrant” accused of arson who was suspected of setting a huge wildfire with a Molotov cocktail. Some reports indicate he admitted to setting some fires. He also had a criminal record involving drugs and violence. He appears to have been arrested but never charged. William Dillon is a guy who was arrested and convicted of murder. He was exonerated after serving 27 years in jail based on DNA evidence.
Look, I am only an imaginary Internet lawyer with no law degree and no license to practice, but I would not want to compare a slight, white, blond lady accused of domestic violence with those falsely accused of murder and arson. Mr. Funk also appears to be the trial expert for the FloridaToday publication.
I think the real estate attorney’s presentation of the cute, thin blond defending herself from the scary, muscular, former fitness trainer would be a much better defense.
But this is Florida, and the attorneys there are a whole different breed.
Ro will be on part of the next episode, and actually seeing her interactions with Kate gave me a whole new look at this case. I’d be doing a whole lot of talk about defense wounds on my client and self-defense. Kate has stated that she is the victim in the case.
But what do I know? I wonder if Funk is the one who told FloridaToday that defendants don’t usually go to docket soundings…