On November 23, 2018, Tanner Dashner, 21, of Fort Pierce, was driving a GMC Yukon south on South 25th Street approaching Midway Road when he struck the rear of a Dodge Dakota traveling in the same direction at a high rate of speed. The impact caused the Dakota to erupt in flames. Five people, 21-year-old Anthony Victor, 16-year-old Anthony M. Martin, 21-year-old Darien L. Douglas, 17-year-old Alexis Chaney and the driver of the Dakota, 27-year-old Kedan D. Tillett, died as a result of some combination of extreme trauma, explosion, fire and/or smoke inhalation. Additionally, passenger Ari’yonnia Stanberry, a 14-year-old, was injured.Briefly prior to the crash, a person believed to be Tanner Dashner posted on social media that he was “Sloshed.” Sloshed is an analogy for being drunk or intoxicated. The person appears intoxicated in the photo. Witnesses claim he was speeding and also claim he ran a red light. Intoxication is an entirely separate issue from the grossly reckless operating of his vehicle in a construction area. Each carry felony charges.
Mr. Dashner has seemingly exhibited behavior of a proud and notorious drunk, posting braggadocios messages such that he identified with being “married to beer,” loved being drunk and promoted one post which said, “Listen, drunk me & sober me are not the same person. So, if drunk me said or did somethin(g), you gotta take it up with drunk me. Don’t come at sober me (because) we weren’t there. We don’t know what Happened between yall.” What is believed to be his Twitter handle is hashtagged, “#partyhardtillidie.” Well, he didn’t die. He killed 5 children and young adults. His blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit of 0.08, according to his arrest affidavit. He has now been charged with five counts each of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. He is in the St. Lucie County Jail with bail set at approximately $7.5 million.
On January 28, Tanner Dashner’s lawyer filed a Motion for a “gag order” in the criminal case. It is set for hearing at 9 AM, February 20, 2019. We reviewed the filing by Tanner Dashner’s criminal defense lawyer in State of Florida v. Dashner. We hope the Court understands that victims have rights, too, and a simultaneous investigation to do. If it wasn’t for social media, certain evidence of Tanner Dashner’s guilt would not have come forward. We encourage anyone with information to continue to speak about it and come forward. We understand the importance of a fair trial, but also understand the rights of victims, the rights of the families who lost children and free speech. Justice cannot be gagged.
We filed a Response to Petition for Gag Order – Dashner and will appeal any adverse ruling.
The Gag Order was denied.
Video of Hearing:
Statement of John Phillips:
Statement of John M. Phillips, attorney for the Estate of Alexis Chaney:
The courts have made it abundantly clear. The public has a right to know about threats to its safety and measures aimed at assuring its security. It also has a legitimate interest in the conduct of judicial proceedings, particularly in matters of general public concern. As we stated in our Response, Tanner Dashner’s request for a gag order was premature and inappropriate. Judge Sweet quickly ruled with our position.
My client, indeed, hired an outspoken advocate, but one dedicated to the pursuit of justice. Most of my comments were made during the agonizing 25 days it took to arrest him for quintuple DUI homicide. Five families suffered a tremendous loss on November 23 as a result of Tanner Dashner’s poor decision making. Nothing we do will erase the pain these families feel, but we will continue fight for justice for our client and do what we can to bring them some measure of justice.
We will continue to provide updates and continue to look for evidence as allowed under the First Amendment. If you have any evidence about the case, we can be reached at 772-444-4444 or [email protected].
Media Dissemination From Dashner’s Lawyer’s Court Appearance:
From a legal perspective, it was unusual for a lawyer for a criminal defendant to have her client stand in front of cameras when his constant appearance on camera (or possibly even in the courtroom) was not necessary.
Further, the attorney revealed, on cameras, a series of issues which disseminated information to cameras, media and the general public things which had not been revealed publicly before. This information would ordinarily be limited to a court filing, and thus in a vacuum. She opened it up to a wide audience. By spending 20+ minutes revealing information contained in court documents, the attorney may have caused the prejudice she sought to cure… and did so to a wider audience. We ask them to please govern themselves accordingly and not cause the very harm they seek to prevent.
- WPBF – Judge denies gag order in crash that killed five
- CBS 12 – Judge denies gag order for suspect in fiery Fort Pierce crash
- WPTV – Gag order denied in St. Lucie County vehicular homicide case
- CW 34 – Judge denies gag order for suspect in fiery Fort Pierce crash
- TC Palm – Judge denies Tanner Dashner’s attorney’s request for gag order in case of crash that killed 5
Tanner Dashner Case Links / Posts / Blog:
- Traffic Crash Report (Report)(from November 23, 2018)
- Press Conference By Florida Highway Patrol (Video)(December 3, 2018)
- Press Conference By Victim’s Lawyer Demanding Arrest (Video)(December 12, 2018)
- Dashner’s First Court Appearance (Video) (December 18, 2018)
- Charging Affidavit Released in Tanner Dashner Case (Report)(December 18, 2018)
- Dashner Granted Indigent Status for Legal Costs; Attorney Charging $100,000 for Fees (January 25, 2019)
- Tanner Dashner Gag Order Sought Against Victim’s Lawyer- DENIED (Video)(February 20, 2019)
- Evidence Locker
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will consult with you personally. John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and before the U.S. Supreme Court with passion and compassion. Our firm handles a wide variety of injury and death cases, criminal defense, family law and a host of high profile matters. We can be emailed at [email protected] or call us at (904) 444-4444 in Florida or (912) 444-4444 in Georgia. Our Treasure Coast area number is (772) 444-4444.