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  • Writer's pictureShelby Higgenbottom

'Lobster King' accused of 79 counts of Grand Theft Crustacean; stands trial

Many came to view him as a folk hero. And why not? For some he was a colorful Florida character enriching our days with joy. Someone who was unafraid to take lobsters from the rich and redistribute some of them to the poorer among us. They even gave him a name, 'The Lobster King.' But that was only the lighter, brighter side of the story.

The reality, as it often is, was much darker.

The opening statements from the Fakahatchee district attorney painted a man obsessed with crustaceans. A man with a compulsive need to tape them to himself. The DA stated in court-"Any claims that this so-called Lobster King was committing these crimes out of a concern or respect for animal rights is demonstrably false." 

Either way this case has pulled the entire county's attention with the courthouse packed with witnesses to the law and a pretty righteous party developing out front. A party that will not be allowed to spill into the courtroom and interrupt the law according to the judge. A decree that has held strong as revelers have sat in the courtroom with downtrodden faces. 

Cynthia Dietrich, wielding a sign emblazoned with "Lob-star!" spoke to me in the hallway during a break. "We brought mixers and crazy straws expecting to go full Margaritaville in this courtroom but... maybe court is less fun than I thought it would be." Another attendee stated the courtroom was- "too cold for cutoffs, had too many steps for flip flops, was nowhere near the bar and is a total bummer."

Revelers before the Judge reined in the case.

Also in attendance were some of the restaurateurs who had been struck by the Lobster King's spree, many who had suffered intense financial losses. A few mentioned potentially pursuing a civil suit pending the wrap up of this trial and were glad to see justice being pursued with gravitas.

"We brought  mixers and crazy straws expecting to go full Margaritaville in this courtroom."

Though some have thought about this as a potential party atmosphere- the attention this trial is receiving is not being ignored. Some city council members have mentioned there's an angry undercurrent that's becoming more palpable. Richard Baysbahn has asked the public to, "Let the law do it's work and please respect the outcome. Rioting will not be tolerated." A statement defense attorney Mike Hammer agreed with "Let justice prevail and you can help that justice prevail and the Lobster King by going to"

The case is currently scheduled for a month with a week of that set aside for jury deliberations which speaks to the momentous decision that jury will be left in the jury's hands. Though it should be said the judge is not afraid to extend the trial if it needs to be in the pursuit of justice. 

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