TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 2023 is already shaping up to be a busy year for Florida, both in state and federal court, and on multiple levels. Some of the cases involve constitutional rights and state politics, while others are more personal, involving murders and mistrials in the Tampa Bay area.
Starting off the year, here are some cases to keep an eye on for Florida and Tampa Bay.
Florida de-platforming law heads to U.S. Supreme Court
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh whether it will take on a case regarding internet censorship that started off in Florida. The law in question was passed in 2021 and said in some reports to be a response to former President Donald Trump’s removal from social media sites after the Jan. 6, 2021 capitol insurrection.
The court battle, between NetChoice, LLC and the state of Florida over Senate Bill 7072, will be examined by the nation’s highest court on Jan. 6, where they will decide if the Florida law infringes upon free speech rights.
Since the law’s passage by the Florida Legislature and subsequent approval by Gov. Ron DeSantis, NetChoice has argued in court at all levels, working through the appellate process, that the bill violates First Amendment protections for private speech, by businesses and individuals.
On the state side, Florida argues that the law prevents speech rights from being infringed upon through illegal censorship by what they call Big Tech companies and their alleged targeting of conservatives.
Michael Keetley trial continues over 2010 murders
After a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury, the homicide trial of Michael Keetley, a former ice cream truck driver in Hillsborough County, heads to court again in February.
Keetley stands accused of four attempted murders and a double murder on Thanksgiving 2010. In 2020, he was taken to court to face the charges, but in the end the jury was not unanimous, and a mistrial was declared.
According to details from court during the original trial, Keetley went to a home in Ruskin on Nov. 25, 2010 while pretending to be a member of law enforcement, then opened fire on multiple men in the home. Since his arrest, Keetley has maintained his innocence. He is expected in court on Feb. 27.
Shelby Nealy faces trial over murder of wife, family in Pasco
In 2019, Shelby Nealy, of Port Richey, faces allegations of killing his ex-wife, her parents, and her brother. Nealy was in court in Pinellas County in October 2019, accused of killing his ex-wife and her entire family, but not all in the same event.
According to investigators, Nealy killed his ex-wife Jamie Nicole Ivancic first, then buried her at their home to hide the body. She was reported missing by her family.
Before Jamie’s body was found, her family, Richard Ivancic, 71; his wife, Laura Ivancic, 59; and their son, Nicholas James Ivancic, 25, were found dead in a home in Tarpon Springs in Pinellas County in January 2019, along with their three family dogs, also dead.
Nealy was arrested in Ohio, and while searching for evidence, law enforcement officers went to the Port Richey home and found Jamie. Detectives from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said at the time that Jamie was killed and buried in December 2018. Nealy stole a car from the family and drove out of state. Officers tracked the car, finding him in Ohio, where he was arrested, pending extradition back to Florida.
Due to where the killings took place, Nealy faces two trials. One is in Pasco County for the murder of Jamie Ivancic, while the other is in Pinellas County, where he is accused of killing her family and the family’s dogs.
After delays, and defense arguments that Nealy was defending his and Jamie’s two young children from abuse, as well as that he is incompetent to stand trial, the 27-year-old will be back in court on Feb. 13 for trial in Pinellas County. He’ll face a trial in Pasco County in July.
Steven Lorenzo asks court to let him be executed
A man serving 200 years in prison for drug crimes and murder is asking to be put on death row and executed.
Steven Lorenzo, who pleaded guilty to the murders of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz in 2003, will have a sentencing hearing in February. While the murders occurred in 2003, Lorenzo was not indicted until 2016.
Previously, Lorenzo had sought to avoid execution, even representing himself in court at certain points. According to court records, Lorenzo did not act alone, working with Scott Schweikert to kill the two men, both were 26 years old at the time. Schweikert testified against Lorenzo as part of a plea agreement.
He has since changed his mind, and asked the courts to put him on death row, after years of back-and-forth in court ended with his conviction for drugging and raping several men, in addition to the murders of Galehouse and Wachholtz.
At a sentencing hearing, Lorenzo may get his wish. He’ll be back in court on Jan. 18 for a jury trial, with the process expected to conclude on Feb. 10.