Defense attorney Terra Carroll is out on bond after being previously found incompetent to stand trial and sent to a mental institution over criminal charges she is facing in the Florida Panhandle.
Carroll, 36, was found competent last month to proceed with hearings and other proceedings in which mental competency is required. After being held in jail or at a Florida state hospital since her initial arrest, Carroll was released on bonds totaling $31,000.
The defense attorney, whose office is in Lakewood Ranch, is being allowed to defend herself but has been appointed a public defender should the need arise.
On Sept. 10, Carroll was arrested after leading deputies with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and later Gulf Breeze police officers on a high-speed pursuit. Later that month, Circuit Judge Ross Goodman in Santa Rosa County ordered Carroll — who had a jar of bath salts in her Jeep at the time of her arrest — to undergo a competency evaluation at the request of the State Attorney’s Office.
On Oct. 14, Carroll appeared before Goodman, and the judge ordered Carroll to a Florida state hospital and revoked her bonds after receiving reports from two doctors who found her incompetent because of mental illness. Carroll was committed to the custody of the Department and Children and Families.
Days later, Carroll began filing several requests to the court on her own behalf, and in the weeks and months that followed she wrote multiple letters to the presiding judges.
In a letter postmarked Dec. 28, Carroll insisted she was not incompetent.
“I am here at Florida State Hospital because the first doctor who evaluated me does not believe me that I was hypnotized by Norman Adam Trebbruge (sic),” Carroll wrote. Tebrugge, a local defense attorney, politely declined to comment about Carroll’s allegations against him.
Carroll listed complaints against both court-appointed doctors ordered to evaluate her, as well as how she was treated at the jail and by her assigned social worker.
“I have attempted to repeatedly advise the court that the second evaluation contains lies in that my family was never contacted or were able to advise that I’d been acting erratic or that they wanted me to have treatment,” Carroll went on to write. “I have repeatedly requested the cell phone text messages that Kristy Zinna advised I’d sent her, she’s a Florida bar attorney, a liar and not a good person.”
Carroll added that people from Manatee County were involved in a “cover-up” to protect Tebrugge and others from the Public Defender’s Office in Manatee County.
“I'm very concerned about Ms. Carroll, and I wish her the best,” Tebrugge said.
Kristy Guy Zinna, who said she is a longtime friend of Carroll, echoed Tebrugge’s sentiments.
“I believe she is suffering from a mental illness, and she is facing criminal charges,” Zinna said. “I believe she was not competent at the time this happened.”
Zinna said she provided the text messages in question sent to her by Carroll in the week before her arrest to the Public Defender’s Office and State Attorney’s Office in Santa Rosa County, as well as Carroll’s address of record at the time.
On Feb. 15, the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had taken custody of Carroll when she was ruled incompetent, advised the court that Carroll no longer met requirements mandated by statute to keep her committed. As a result, Circuit Judge John Simon, now presiding over her case, ordered she be brought to court for a hearing March 3.
Carroll was questioned by the judge at the March 3 hearing — as she will be at all critical proceedings — to make sure she knowingly and willingly was giving up her right to have another attorney represent her. The judge set bonds on her charges and ordered her onto the pretrial release program.
Special conditions of Carroll’s release include that she not engage in any criminal activity or threaten violence, abstain from alcohol or illegal drugs, submit to random drug testing and report by phone once a week. Carroll is next scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. May 30.
Initially, Carroll was charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence, fleeing law enforcement at high speed, resisting an officer without violence, aggravated fleeing law enforcement with injury or damage, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery on law enforcement and resisting an officer with violence.
When the State Attorney’s Office formally filed charges in the case, she was only charged with fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement in agency vehicle with siren and lights activated at high speed and resisting an officer without violence.