PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A horde of Spring Breakers who allegedly brought guns, drugs, and trouble to Panama City Beach this weekend met Judge Shane Vann on Monday.
Some of them were new to the first appearance process. At first appearances defendants are asked if they understand their charges, a judge confirms they have been read their rights and the judge determines their bond.
The question of whether they will plead guilty or not guilty to the charges is handled at a later court date.
A few of the defendants had parents or other loved ones who offered to watch over them if they were released. Others listened quietly as Corp. Leslie Fambro told Vann about a litany of previous arrests and charges. They all wore black and white stripes and masks.
Vann worked through 85 defendants facing a variety of charges. Many of them were connected to alleged crimes on Panama City Beach this past weekend. Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford and Panama City Police Chief Mark Smith held two news conferences about the problems they were facing. There was one shooting during the weekend.
The most common charge Vann dealt with Monday was carrying a concealed weapon. That charge usually resulted in a $50,000 bond.
“Was there a gun show on the beach this weekend?” Vann asked one of the suspects.
“Sir?” he replied.
“No?” Vann continued. “Y’all came down here to take over the beach and y’all did was take over the jail.”
One arrest caught Vann’s attention. The charge was disorderly conduct.
“They arrested people for disorderly conduct at the gun show?” Vann asked. “Is this damn childish Mr. Rich?”
The defendant was quickly advised by laughing bailiffs not to answer the question.
In another interaction, Vann asked a defendant why he had come to Panama City Beach from Birmingham.
“I never been to Panama I just wanted to have fun one time,” he replied. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
Vann set his bond at $50,000.
“You must have known something, you brought a gun,” Vann added. “Allegedly.”
In several instances, Vann faced off with defendants who said they were not read their rights.
“They didn’t read my rights either,” one of the defendants said.
“Who didn’t read you your rights?” Vann asked.
“Officer Miles,” the defendant replied.
“When they arrested you?” Vann asked.
“We should just let you go shouldn’t we,” Vann replied. “No, that’s not the way it works. It is a fiction of tv and movies that they have to read you your rights when they arrest you. That’s not what Miranda is about. Miranda is about interrogation not arrest.”
Vann then confirmed that the defendant would have a lawyer going forward.
“Are you going to represent yourself or are you going to hire an attorney I hope, that knows the law,” Vann said.
The defendant confirmed he would be hiring an attorney.
“Good,” Vann replied. “Jailhouse lawyers don’t work.”
Given how many gun charges they were seeing Vann and Fambro discussed their personal preferences.
“A lot of Austrian firearms taken into custody this week,” Vann said. “Strong Austrian presence.”
Fambro asked for clarification.
“The Glock,” Vann said. “The Glock seems to be very popular this week.”
“I like it too though,” Fambro replied.
“I don’t like the trigger,” Vann said. “I’ll be honest with you. But you get an aftermarket trigger on it, it’s alright.”
“No, you change the trigger,” Fambro said.
“So you spend that much money for a gun and then you have to change the trigger? Vann said. “Come on.”
“Who said I paid for it,” Fambro joked. “Come on.”
The type of gun another defendant allegedly had on him led to more commentary.
“The Glock 19 has always been a little big to me. I prefer the 43,” Vann said.
“I got a 43,” Fambro replied.
“It’s perfect isn’t it,” Vann said. “I’ll tell you what the 19 is nice for. You get that extended mag, you turn it sideways and light it up.”
“Ain’t nobody turn their gun sideways,” Fambro said. “That’s TV.”
It also leads to at least one problem Vann admitted.
“The shell casing comes back and hits you in the head,” he said.
Another topic of conversation was college allegiances. Vann frequently let it be known that he is a fan of the University of Alabama.
He asked one defendant about his college preferences while noting that the defendant lived in Auburn territory.
“War eagle?” Vann asked tentatively.
“Roll Tide,” the defendant replied.
“That a boy, that’s what I’m talking about. Right there in the heart of the enemy territory. You stay strong Mr. Heart,” Vann said. “Bond set at $50,000. Court date is April 18 at 9 o’clock.”
He then added another “Roll Tide.”
“In a sea of heathens, you stay firm,” Vann said.
Vann told the final defendant, who was number 85, that he was the one they all had been looking for.
The interaction ended when the defendant shouted Roll Tide back to the judge.
“Roll tide that’s a wrap lets go. He said roll tide and he meant it,” Vann said.
Then, with a timbre of relief in his voice, Vann counted up the numbers.
“FYI that was 85 people in an hour and 54 minutes and 41 seconds,” Vann said. “If someone was counting.”