BRADENTON — Most of the criminal charges have been dropped against a local man police say chased a local eye doctor to his death after he caught him having sex with his wife.
Prosecutors said Thursday they just couldn’t prove Blair Hohmeister’s driving led to Dr. Jason Evangelista’s death.
“The State must prove that (Hohmeister’s) reckless driving ‘caused’ the death of (Evangelista). Here, we have no evidence the silver 2003 Honda Accord made any contact with the black 2005 Dodge pickup at or near the intersection of 17th Avenue West and 43rd Street West,” wrote Assistant State Attorney Brian Iten.
Hohmeister, 27, was facing seven charges: vehicular homicide, reckless driving with serious bodily injury and five counts of reckless driving causing property damage. After the State Attorney’s Office decision, one charge of reckless driving remains; it is a first-degree misdemeanor.
“It’s a huge relief for me and my family. I still have one count of reckless driving. I’m innocent of that, and that will be proven in court,” said Hohmeister, declining to comment on any facts in the case as he sat at his attorney Mark Lipinski’s law office Thursday afternoon with his 24-year-old wife, Nichole Hohmeister. “All I was trying to do was rescue my wife because I thought she was in danger. I love her very much and I’m sorry Dr. Evangelista died.”
Prosecutors painted a different picture of the incident, according to court documents filed Thursday by the State Attorney’s Office.
Evangelista and Nichole Hohmeister, who both knew each other from work at The Eye Depot, were having consensual sex in a four-door black Dodge truck parked behind City Hall, 100 Old Main Street, on the night of May 5 when Blair Hohmeister banged on the window, documents said.
“Hey, that’s my wife,” Hohmeister said, according to the report. “Nichole, get out of the car.”
Evangelista, whose toxicology results showed he had a .122 blood alcohol level — more than one-and-a-half times the legal limit — slipped into the front seat and began driving with Hohmeister holding on to the vehicle, according to documents.
Hohmeister, who police believe was sober at the time of the incident, said he was hospitalized for two weeks after receiving road rash in which the wounds later developed into a MRSA infection.
On Thursday afternoon, he sat with a wound vacuum secured around his leg. He said he hopes to no longer wear the vacuum by next week.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be back to normal. It’s a lot to deal with,” he said.
It’s possible he contracted the infection in jail when he had to sleep on the floor near a toilet over night after he was arrested on the charges, he said.
After Hohmeister let go of the truck, he returned to his Honda Accord and gave chase after Evangelista through downtown Bradenton on Manatee Avenue West, 26th Street West and 17th Avenue West, according to documents.
He lost control of the car just before the intersection and rolled several times. Evangelista’s pickup continued through the intersection until it struck a cement drain culvert and rolled several times, documents stated.
Evangelista suffered traumatic head injuries and died at the scene. No one could be reached Thursday at his residence for comment. His divorce had come through with his wife a week before the crash. He left behind four boys.
Nichole Hohmeister was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with a serious leg injury.
“Was it worth it?” Hohmeister reportedly screamed at the truck according to witness statements in court documents.
According to a witness, Hohmeister had tried to find his wife the prior night.
“(Hohmeister) believed he was pursuing a cheating spouse and her lover, not a kidnap victim and her abductor,” Iten writes.
When Hohmeister was talking to investigators, he said he heard his wife say, “ ‘Oh my God, it’s Blair,’ an exclamation that put him on notice that his wife was distressed, not relieved, to have been discovered by her husband,” according to documents.
Through it all, the Hohmeisters remain together and share a 4-year-old daughter.
“We’re a lot closer. We’re a lot stronger,” Hohmeister said Thursday as he held his wife’s hand. “I think after you go through something like this together, you realize how fragile life is and how important every day is.”
The case was set to go before Circuit Court Judge Diana Moreland on Thursday, but was canceled because the remaining charge will be heard in county court.
Hohmeister’s next court date has not been set.