Source: ABC News – Tampa, FL

LAND O’ LAKES – The State Attorney’s office announced Monday it would not prosecute the man who killed someone with his bare hands in Pasco County.

That decision was based largely on a security camera that caught the fast-food fight on tape. Cops say the tape helps clear Martin Robless-Taylor, but the dead man’s parents say this is anything but clear.

“My son was, like everybody said, he was a gentle giant,” Wayne Makowski told Action News.

Wayne Makowski loses his composure when he thinks about the way his son died — in a fight in a McDonald’s parking lot in Land O’ Lakes. But what really stunned the Makowskis is that the man who killed their son will not be charged.

“I was totally shocked. I did not expect this type of decision whatsoever,” Cathy Makowski added.

The fight to the death was caught on tape by a security camera at McDonald’s. The video footage shows Anthony Makowski and Martin Robless-Taylor fighting.

“I just feel this is extremely unfair investigation. The criminals admitted to choking my son,” Cathy exclaimed.

But deputies say there was no crime, and hence no criminal — this was justifiable homicide. Cops say it appears on tape the man who died was on top in the fight, that he was the aggressor.

“Saying it is excusable homicide is outrageous. It did not go before a grand jury,” Cathy continued.

Grand juries are frequently asked to decide on homicides, but not in this case. Investigators explained that the tape made that step unnecessary.

“This case, we had the tape, which showed that the evidence was not there for a grand jury,” sheriff’s office spokesman Kevin Doll explained. “Our investigation showed that it was a case of self-defense, and the state attorney’s office investigation showed the same thing.”

But that’s simply not good enough for the Makowskis.

“It’s like in a football game, where you have a fumble,” Wayne Makowski offered. “One camera will show you, yes, it absolutely is. But on the other angle, it shows you absolutely not. You really can’t believe what you see.”

Added: April 25, 2006

Source: ABC News

Aug. 24, 2005 — Florida prosecutors say they will not try the man who choked another man to death during a fight in a McDonald’s parking lot.

The April 24, 2005, fight between Martin Robless-Taylor and Anthony Makowski, who died from strangulation, was caught on tape by a security camera in the Pasco County McDonald’s parking lot. Because the tape shows Makowski to be the aggressor, the Florida State Attorney’s office on Monday ruled the death an “excusable homicide.”

A homicide is excusable when it is committed by accident in the course of doing any lawful act by lawful means or by accident in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation or upon a sudden combat without any dangerous weapon being used and not being done in a cruel or unusual manner.

“We enhanced the tape and the young man always doing the beating is the one who died,” the Florida State Attorney’s Office said. “It’s self-explanatory.”

Makowski’s grief-stricken parents, Wayne and Cathy Makowski, are calling the lack of investigation a cover-up.

“It’s not a fair investigation and this is extreme injustice,” Cathy Makowski told “Good Morning America” today.

Prosecutors say the videotape shows Makowski charging Robless-Taylor, then battering and body-slamming him. When 21-year-old Makowski, 6-foot-4, 271 pounds, jumped on top of Robless-Taylor, an Army-trained 25-year-old, Robless-Taylor put him into a choke hold.

Witnesses said the choke hold lasted from two to three minutes.

Police said Makowski was unresponsive when they arrived at 4:41 a.m., but was moaning and breathing. Moments later, as paramedics showed up, police said Makowski stopped breathing and paramedics began CPR.

Alcohol may have fueled the brawl. Makowski’s blood-alcohol level was 0.14, according to a sheriff’s report. The attorney’s office said all four men involved in the altercation had been drinking.

The fight began when Makowski was in a car behind Robless-Taylor, at the McDonald’s drive-through, said Bruce Bartlett of the Florida’s State Attorney’s Office.

“Mr. Makowski became agitated when it took longer, and he started to blow the horn although they were waiting for the McDonald’s people,” Bartlett said. “Words exchanged, and ultimately the victim’s car pulled over and Martin Robless-Taylor walked toward the victim and the victim started to hit him on his face and continued to strike.”

Wayne and Cathy Makowski said their son was defending himself.

“You really need to take that video frame by frame,” Cathy Makowski said. “If you look at it slowly, you are going to see him [Anthony Makowski] not coming out like the state attorney would say, punching.”

“The family is not happy,” the state attorney’s office acknowledged in a statement. “But legally speaking, we don’t have a basis to pursue this case.”

“That’s nonsense,” Wayne Makowski said. “The prosecutors need to bring the case to a grand jury, and those citizens need to decide if this is murder and should be tried … If they agree with the state attorney’s office then that’s fine, but this is an extreme abuse of justice.”

Added: April 25, 2006

Source: The Tampa Tribune

LAND O’ LAKES – For Cathy Makowski, every day is torture, and every night brings torment.

It has been more than 10 weeks since her son, Anthony Makowski, 21, of Land O’ Lakes, died after being choked during an altercation at McDonald’s on U.S. 41, just north of State Road 54. It happened about 4:30 a.m. April 24.

“You have no idea how difficult life has been,” she said this week. “I have nightmares. I can’t sleep, can’t function, can’t work. My entire life is upside down.”

There are many things Cathy and Wayne Makowski, Anthony’s father, have struggled to understand since their only child was pronounced dead that morning at University Community Hospital in Tampa.

Martin Robles-Taylor, a 25- year-old Army veteran, admitted to choking their son, according to Pasco County Sheriff’s Office records.

A Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy confirmed the cause of death was asphyxiation, but Robles-Taylor has not been charged with a crime.

University Community Hospital records say Makowski was “struck several times then choked with a flashlight.”

Pasco authorities have said that Robles-Taylor might have acted in self-defense, which the Makowskis and Ricky Hoadley, whom Anthony Makowski was with the morning he was killed, sharply deny. The Makowskis said they think Robles-Taylor is being protected because of his military experience.

The criminal investigation is being handled by the State Attorney’s Office, which has interviewed witnesses in the case this week. Assistant State Attorneys Phil Van Allen and Manny Garcia didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

The Makowskis said they don’t understand why their son didn’t receive medical aid from a sheriff’s deputy who found him moaning on the ground with blood on his forehead and in his saliva.

In a sheriff’s report, Deputy Donald Shaw said he observed “no major signs of trauma” on Anthony Makowski.

According to the report, Shaw called Pasco Emergency Medical Services after he was told Makowski was intoxicated. Makowski didn’t receive any medical attention until after Shaw noticed that he had stopped breathing, the report said.

Hoadley, Makowski’s friend, said Shaw was told Makowski was drunk by Robles-Taylor and his friend, who also said there had not been a fight. Hoadley said he wasn’t asked about what happened until hours later.

Makowski was “obviously having a hard time breathing” and was “completely out of it” when Shaw and deputy trainee Erica Nartker arrived, Hoadley said. He was put into the back of a sheriff’s vehicle after he tried to walk over to his friend.

“And I stayed back there for four or five hours while they walked around,” he said. “Maybe they thought I was the aggressor. Every bit of information they got was false.

“I don’t care if Anthony was drunk or choked out. The cop could have checked him over. He did nothing whatsoever.”

Sheriff’s office spokesman Kevin Doll said this week that an internal inquiry into the performance of deputies at the scene will begin after the criminal investigation is complete.

Witnesses Describe Fight

The incident began in the McDonald’s drive-through line.

A witness who said she was working at the window said she saw a fight start after two men in a gray truck – Robles- Taylor and his friend, whose name has not been released – motioned for a black truck to take a parking space, a sheriff’s report says.

She said a man from the gray truck had a silver flashlight, and a passenger in the other truck, Makowski, showed “what appeared to be a blue flashlight,” the report said.

She said the men in the gray truck went to either side of the black truck, where Hoadley and Makowski sat. She said a fight started after Hoadley and Makowski got out of the truck.

Makowski was 6-foot-5 and about 260 pounds. Robles- Taylor is about 6-1 and about 165 pounds.

Another McDonald’s worker told a deputy that when he went to the drive-through window, he saw Makowski throwing punches while on top of Robles-Taylor. He said Robles- Taylor got Makowski into a chokehold, which he held for two or three minutes.

Robles-Taylor could not be reached for comment.

While handcuffed in a deputy’s patrol car, Robles-Taylor said he did not intend to hurt Makowski, but “simply wanted the fight to stop,” sheriff’s records say. He also spoke of his military training.

He later spoke to detectives at the sheriff’s Land O’ Lakes substation.

Hoadley, who spoke with Garcia, the assistant state attorney, last month, said this week that when he and Makowski got to McDonald’s, the wait was “taking forever.”

“We beeped the horn one time,” he said. “There was no yelling or anything. As the girl handed me our food at the window, the guys in the car ahead had pulled around the corner and walked up to us. We were still at the window and they were at the passenger side.

“They were yelling at us, out of nowhere. We weren’t even beeping at them; it was, `Come on let’s hurry this up.’ ”

Hoadley said Robles-Taylor had a large flashlight, and his friend had a beer bottle. When Hoadley pulled around the corner, something was thrown at his truck, he said.

“I stopped and [Anthony and I] both go out,” Hoadley said. “I was approached by the guy with the beer bottle. I got out to look in my truck and Anthony and the other guy met around the back of the truck and they started swinging back and forth.

“I don’t know who swung first, but I know that any person who’s approached with a Mag-Lite [flashlight] will try to defend themselves. You get hit with that flashlight, you’re not having a good day.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Jennifer Morton, who investigated the crime scene, said in a report that she found a beer bottle and silver flashlight two spaces away from Hoadley’s truck.

Hoadley said he argued with Robles-Taylor’s friend, but they never physically fought. He said the man told him he had just returned from Iraq “and not to mess with him.”

After Robles-Taylor got Makowski into a chokehold, Hoadley said he tried to persuade Robles-Taylor that the fight was over.

Since Anthony Makowski’s death, about 20 of his friends have gotten permanent tattoos in his memory. Others have attached large stickers to their rear windows that say, “In Loving Memory of Anthony Makowski.”

Cathy Makowski said her only child was nicknamed “Boots” because of his penchant for cowboy boots and hats. She said he loved to fish, camp and sing at church.

Just A Goofy Guy

She held up a picture of her son making an odd expression inside a telephone booth.

“He was just a goofy guy,” she said.

In a letter to the State Attorney’s Office, Anthony’s friend, Amanda Harmon, said she had seen Makowski walk away from altercations after being pushed to “amazing limits.”

Jeremy Williams, a Marine, said he had seen his longtime friend walk away from a fight even after being punched in the face.

“I’m willing to bet my life that he didn’t start that fight,” Williams wrote in a letter to the State Attorney’s Office.

Anthony Makowski attended Hillsborough Community College and talked of a career as a wildlife preservation officer.

“It’s unbearable for us to go through this,” Cathy Makowski said, breaking into a sob.

Reporter Geoff Fox can be reached at (813) 948-4217.

Added: April 25, 2006