Forbidden Fruit

Both Mike Lemus and Danny Donovan's family have filed civil suits against J.R. Brooks in Dade Circuit Court, Lemus for emotional distress and Donovan for the injuries he suffered. A large settlement in the civil suit probably wouldn't do Donovan much good, but it would defray the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed by his family in medical costs. On the advice of their attorney, Michael Buckley, Donovan's family declined to be interviewed for this article. The attorney for J.R. Brooks and Son, Gordon Evans, who has directed his clients not to comment about the case, has filed a counter suit asserting that Lemus is to blame for his friend's injuries.

If any new evidence emerges in the criminal case, it will probably come from the civil suits. Susan Dannelly says she remains pessimistic about the prospect of prosecution, although she does question why Buckley has not contacted her to discuss any additional evidence he might have.

When Buckley, who is representing both Donovan and Lemus in their suits, questioned Murray Bass and Michael Hunt under oath, they both took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about the identity of the gunman. Bass would not even repeat what he told police after the incident - that Keith Mitchell had admitted to shooting Donovan. Buckley filed motions requesting that a judge order the men to tell what they know, on the grounds that any information they divulge would most likely not provide the necessary evidence for a conviction. The motion was granted, but Brooks's attorney is appealing the ruling.

In the end, says prosecutor Dannelly, investigators had enough evidence to charge Mike Lemus for the theft of six bushels of mangoes and for transporting fruit without a sale certificate. Both are misdemeanor offenses. Lemus also faces one grand-theft felony count; police say an agricultural pump was found in the bed of his truck. The charges against Lemus are still pending. Danny Donovan was never charged with anything.

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