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KEY WEST, September 18, 2019 – A Florida Keys judge has sentenced a woman to three years in Florida State Prison for stealing a vehicle from the Lower Keys, then crashing into multiple vehicles.
Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones sentenced Jessica Vanhorn, 32, of Ruskin, Fla., on September 12 after Vanhorn pleaded no contest to grand theft of a motor vehicle. Prison will be followed by 24 months of probation. Assistant state attorneys Nicholas Trovato and Christine Poist represented the state.
In a separate case involving an auto crash involving six vehicles and the stolen motor vehicle, Vanhorn also pleaded no contest to driving under the influence causing damage to property or person, reckless driving causing damage to property or person, fleeing and eluding police, leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage and driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license. She was put on drug-offender probation for 60 months, to be served following prison.
On December 28, 2018, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a Summerland Key residence about a stolen 2006 Ford Expedition. The owner told deputies no one had permission to take it and told them the suspect was Vanhorn. It turns out that while the Expedition’s owner and deputies were talking, Vanhorn was already in police custody, having been arrested earlier in the day for the crash involving the Expedition.
In that incident, Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg called into Key West police communications that he was traveling south on U.S. 1 near Key West and attempting to stop the Explorer, which he saw “traveling at a high rate of speed, failing to maintain its lane and overall driving recklessly.” Brandenburg had his emergency lights and siren on at the time. Vanhorn would not stop.
Vanhorn continued traveling south and struck the rear of a pickup truck, a Key West police car (“removing the front bumper”), a Mercedes and a Dodge pickup. She continued onto North Roosevelt Boulevard, where she struck a safety barrier, two traffic-control signs and two more vehicles. That last impact disabled the Expedition.
Police later estimated the total damage caused at $75,000. Vanhorn must pay restitution for the damage.
When police approached Vanhorn while she was in the Expedition, she told officers without being asked anything, “’I’m sober. I’m not under the influence of nothing.” Her clothing was disheveled and her eyes were “droopy” and “glassy.” She was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center after complaining of pain, then medically cleared and taken to the Stock Island Detention Center. She took a breath test, which did not reveal the presence of alcohol. She also gave a urine sample, which revealed the presence of a stimulant, a depressant and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
A computer check showed her driver’s license had been suspended three times.