Crime

Keys man held without bond following fifth DUI arrest and second hit-and-run charge

Most of us have a specific talent we develop in life. Unfortunately for a Stock Island fisherman, it's apparently driving drunk.

Thursday night, Robert Brendan Owens, 36, was jailed for the fifth time in the Keys on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol following a hit-and-run crash on Stock Island. He's in the Monroe County Detention Center with no bond allowed.

In addition to the felony DUI count, he's charged with a felony count of tampering with evidence, one misdemeanor count each of hit and run, making a false statement and refusing to submit to a breath test and five misdemeanor counts of refusing to accept a citation.

Owens was charged with DUI on Aug. 26, 2008; Jan. 27, 2006; June 22, 2005; and March 1, 2000. In addition, just like in his latest arrest, he was charged with refusing to submit to a breath-machine test during his 2008 and 2005 arrests. Thursday was also the second time he was charged with hit and run. He was charged with that during the 2008 arrest.

Monroe County Clerk of the Court records show he was convicted of the 2000 and 2006 DUIs. Records are unclear about what happened in the other cases.

Owens was not supposed to be driving. According to Florida Department of Corrections records, he was convicted of marijuana possession and obstructing a criminal investigation and on Jan. 31, 2013, sentenced to three years of supervised release. A condition of that is he is not allowed to drive until his probation expires on April 27, 2016, Monroe County Sheriff's Office Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes wrote in his Thursday arrest report.

Owens has at least 29 traffic-related arrests or tickets in the Keys since 1998, everything from DUI to having an open alcoholic container to disobeying traffic signals to speeding to not wearing a seat belt.

Thursday, according to Martin-Reyes' report, Owens was driving a black Monte Carlo when he struck Romualdo Balbuena's gold Honda Civic at 8th Avenue and Cross Street on Stock Island. It was about 7:30 p.m.

In his call to the Sheriff's Office, Balbuena said the Monte Carlo then sped away down 8th Avenue. After the crash, Balbuena did a U-turn and was able to catch up to Owens and block in the Monte Carlo until deputies arrived.

When confronted by Martin-Reyes, Owens reportedly said "what crash?" The deputy pointed out fresh damage to Owens' car including "a piece of red glass encrusted on it." Owens "continued stating that he did not crash," Martin-Reyes wrote.

The charge of tampering with evidence is because at that point, Owens "took the red piece of glass and yanked it out of his Monte Carlo, throwing it away from me onto the dirt shoulder."

During questioning, the deputy wrote, Owens admitted he had "five or six drinks." Following field sobriety tests, Martin-Reyes arrested him and took him to jail. While there, Owens reportedly cursed at Martin-Reyes and called him a "bad Cuban."

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