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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Pasco man who fled with family in custody, awaits trial

A New Port Richey man who fled the area last month with his wife and two children to avoid a vehicular homicide trial has been extradited to Pinellas County and is awaiting trial.

Garrett Franklin Bruce was booked late Monday night into the Pinellas County Jail on charges of failing to appear in court to face one count each of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence-manslaughter.

At his first appearance today, Bruce said he used to have a private attorney but no longer could afford one. Circuit Judge Thane Covert ordered he be held without bail pending his trial.

The charges stem from a December 2011 crash in Tarpon Springs.

Bruce was arrested Feb. 5 at Camping World in Katy, Texas, by the U.S. Marshals Service. He was booked at the Fort Green Sheriff’s Office in Texas.

Bruce, 33, had altered his appearance by shaving his head. He was found in good condition. His wife and children were also fine.

Bruce fled last month along with his wife, Jennifer, and their sons, Brett, 5, and Dillon, 7, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

Bruce removed an ankle bracelet and didn’t attend a pre-trial conference on Jan. 27, a week before the trial.

The crash occurred at 3:14 a.m. Dec. 11, 2011, on Meres Boulevard, according to court documents. Bruce, then a manager at a Papa John’s pizzeria, was driving a 2011 Dodge Charger with employees Elliot Lewis and Patrick Vosbein, court records show. They earlier had closed the eatery, where Vosbein had brought several cans of beer, the documents said.

About a half-mile west of Carolina Avenue, Bruce lost control of the car at a curve, the documents said. It crashed into a concrete utility pole, knocking it down. Bruce and Lewis, the front passenger, were wearing seat belts but Vosbein, riding in the back seat, was not, and he was catapulted through the windshield, landing on the hood, the documents said. The 26-year-old Tarpon Springs man died three days later.

A blood test showed Bruce’s alcohol percent was 0.103, the documents said. A driver is presumed to be intoxicated at 0.08 or higher.

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