Suspect in Siesta runner’s death released on bond

Signs at the Siesta Public Beach concession advertise alcoholic beverages, which are legal on the beach. Photo by Rachel Hackney

The 23-year-old Bradenton man charged in connection with the January death of a Siesta Key runner was released from the Sarasota County Jail on Wednesday, June 20, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Blake C. Talman had been in jail since Jan. 7, the day he allegedly was driving drunk when he struck Donna Chen, 53, as she ran along the sidewalk of Midnight Pass Road with her dog.

Talman was charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, four counts of DUI property damage and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. His bond totaled $118,000.

According to terms of the release, Talman must remain under house arrest with a GPS system allowing law enforcement officers to track his location at all times. He also was ordered not to consume alcohol or use drugs.

Additionally, Talman was ordered to wear a SCRAM device, which measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s respiration, according to law enforcement officials. The tamper-resistant equipment fits around a defendant’s ankle.

The bond conditions were imposed in an order signed April 3 by 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Rick De Furia.

Talman’s trial most likely will be scheduled for early 2013, Amanda M. Gambert, assistant state attorney, told the News Leader.

Contacted June 21 by the News Leader, Dinise McPhail, Chen’s sister, said the State Attorney’s Office had informed the family of Talman’s release. She had no other comment, McPhail said.

On April 25, the Mallard Law Firm of Sarasota announced its intentions to bring suit against the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office on behalf of Chen’s family, “for negligent actions resulting in her death.”

Deputies had confronted Talman and two companions prior to his leaving the beach and driving along Midnight Pass Road, a news release from the law firm said.

Damian Mallard, lead attorney in the case, said in the news release that the deputies directed “these gentlemen to drive home under the influence, and unfortunately, at the cost of my client’s life.”

However, the Sheriff’s Office reported after Chen’s death that while deputies spoke on three occasions Jan. 7 with Talman and his eventual passenger in the crash, David J. Brewer of Sarasota, the last time they saw Talman and Brewer, the pair was walking to the Siesta Public Beach.

The Sheriff’s Office also reported that the deputies ran a check for warrants on Talman, Brewer and their companion, Michael E. Blakey of North Port, after the first encounter, but the check turned up nothing.

Even though witnesses had reported seeing the men drinking alcoholic beverages, the deputies arrested only Blakey, on a charge of disorderly conduct. The deputies said neither Talman nor Brewer displayed rude behavior, so they had no grounds to arrest them.

Under Sarasota County’s ordinances, it is legal to consume alcoholic beverages on Siesta Public Beach.

Blakey’ arrest was recorded at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 7. The Florida Highway Patrol said Chen was killed about 1:10 p.m.

1 thought on “Suspect in Siesta runner’s death released on bond

  1. I know everyone is entitled to a bond to secure thier presence in court…so how did this defendant raise the $118,000? I can almost guarentee based on my experience with this type of person, that he will violate the conditions of his release and be right back in jail.

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