Ocala courts: Man acquitted of sex crime after one-day trial

Here's a recap of court cases heard in state and federal court on April 12 and 14.

State v. Johnathan Julio Maldonado

Verdict: A six-member jury found Johnathan Maldonado not guilty of sexual battery upon a physically helpless person and sexual battery, according to court records.

Maldonado, 32, faced 50 years in prison if the jury had found him guilty, according to Office of the Regional Counsel lawyer Junior Barrett, who represented Maldonado.

Charges: Though the Silver Springs man was acquitted of two sexual offenses, Maldonado has a pending charge of failure to comply with sex offender reporting requirements. Records show that case is ongoing.

Earlier court coverage: Prison, probation and more as six felony cases are resolved

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Trial: The trial lasted one day, April 12. Jury selection was April 10. The victim testified, but Maldonado did not take the stand, Barrett said. Circuit Judge Robert Hodges presided.

About the case: The victim said she was sexually abused by Maldonado in 2019.

United States v. Fiona Eyana Palmer

Charge: Federal officials on April 12 said 39-year-old Fiona Eyana Palmer of Wesley Chapel was found guilty of sexual abuse of an inmate.

Sentence: Although sentencing is scheduled for a later date, Palmer could receive up to the maximum 15 years in federal prison, authorities said. She was indicted on Dec. 20.

About the case: According to federal officials, testimony and evidence at trial indicate Palmer, a corrections officer, was involved in sex acts with an inmate at Coleman Federal Correction Complex in Coleman.

In recorded phone calls between Palmer and the inmate, officials said the two talked about sex acts, and Palmer offered to send money to a relative of the inmate. Officials from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General investigated the case.

State v. Robert Donelle Turner

Verdict: Two days after the Maldonado trial, a different jury listened to lawyers argue their cases in reference to Robert Turner. Unlike Maldonado, jurors never a got a chance to deliver a verdict.

Hodges granted a judgment of acquittal for the defense, citing insufficient evidence to establish the statements given by Turner to a detective were trustworthy, according to Assistant Public Defender Amanda Sizemore. Frances Watson was also apart of the defense.

Charge: Turner, 47, of Oxford, was charged with sexual battery upon a physically helpless person.

Trial: The trial was expected to last one day, April 14. The jury was sworn in on April 10.

About the case: Sheriff's detectives arrested Turner for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in 2018.

State v. Starr Mary Hunter

Plea: No contest.

Sentence: Hunter was sentenced to a 35-year prison term as part of a plea arrangement between her lawyer and the State Attorney's Office. She was sentenced on April 14 by Circuit Judge Peter Brigham.

Hunter has 878 days of credit for time served at the county jail while this case was pending. The judge had no objection of Hunter being housed in Hernando County, where there's a facility that treats inmates with mental health and addiction issues.

Charge: Second-degree murder.

About the case: Hunter, 27, of Homosassa Springs, was arrested in 2020 in connection with the death of a man in the Florida Highlands.

Several months ago, officials said, deputies went to get DNA from William McLaughlin, who's suspected of choking the victim. McLaughlin had a standoff with deputies and he fatally shot himself.

State v. Darrielle Demond Murphy, Keshana Zwanda Oliver and Jakecio Demitrius Pollard

Pleas: Murphy, 34, Oliver, 35 and Pollard, 20, each pleaded no contest.

Sentences: Each was sentenced to seven years in prison. Each had more than 600 days of credit for time served at the jail awaiting resolution of this case.

Charges: Each was charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Pollard also pleaded no contest to a separate charge of escape.

About the case: Murphy, of Ocala; Oliver, of Anthony; and Ocala resident Pollard were arrested in 2021 and accused of severely beating a man, leaving him with permanent damage. They also robbed him, prosecutors said. Pollard's escape charge came when he slipped out of the county jail unnoticed. He later turned himself in back at the jail.

Contact Austin L. Miller at austin.miller@starbanner.com or @almillerosb

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Court roundup: Jury finds man not guilty of sex crime after Ocala trial