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Vehicular homicide charges filed

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Published:   |   Updated: September 19, 2013 at 10:26 PM

BROOKSVILLE - A year and a half after Richard Barrett Jr. raced his minivan up U.S. 19 through Pasco and Hernando counties, the State Attorney's Office has filed vehicular homicide charges against him.

Barrett is believed to have caused at least three traffic crashes on Feb. 15, 2012, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The last vehicle Barrett hit was Charles Hesser's gold Toyota Tacoma pickup. Hesser's truck rolled over six times before coming to a stop. And even though Hesser was wheeled into surgery joking about golfing the next day, the 72-year-old retiree died from his injuries 50 days later at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.

Witnesses at the crash scene told deputies Barrett was "crazy," and "recklessly" changing lanes. According to a sheriff's report, Barrett screamed at Deputy Gisele Mulverhill, and kicked her in the stomach after she tased him. Barrett later called himself a "speed racer" and said he was trying to see how fast he could drive.

Last December, Barrett was acquitted of a battery on a law enforcement charge by reason of insanity in Hernando.

Pasco court records show Barrett was charged with careless driving in Pasco County.

Prosecutor Bill Catto said Barrett's mental state at the time of the crashes could impact the new vehicular homicide charge.

"He could be found not guilty by reason of insanity, it's a very possible outcome," Catto said, adding the new charge is a first degree felony punishable by 30 years in prison, if convicted.

The charges were filed on Aug. 2. A pre-trial hearing in front of Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. is set for Oct. 11.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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