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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Notorious local hit-and-run drivers could wind up at same prison

Tara Rene Schiessle,
Tara Rene Schiessle

Two notorious local hit-and-run drivers could wind up at the same prison.

Tara Rene Schiessle, 32, of Lady Lake, was turned over this week to the Florida Department of Corrections. She had been lodged at the Lake County Jail since April 29, the day in which she pleaded no contest to charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving death and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury. The former Lake Centre for Rehab physical therapist assistant has been sentenced to three years in state prison to be followed by three years of probation. Court records indicate the prosecutor’s office waived a four-year minimum mandatory sentence as part of the plea deal. A charge of insurance fraud was also dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Schiessle originally reported to her insurance company that she’d hit a deer on the night of Sept. 11, 2022. However, an investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol revealed that Schiessle’s silver Jeep Cherokee Sport struck and killed 40-year-old Jamie Weinz as she was walking along Rolling Acres Road, not far from American Legion Post 347. Her male companion was also hit and was airlifted to Ocala Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

Schiessle was transferred this week to the Florida Department of Corrections Reception Center in Orlando, which is a standard part of the inmate intake process. While she is there, it will be determined where she will serve out her sentence.

There is a strong likelihood that she will wind up at the Lowell Correctional Institute, a women’s prison located north of Ocala. With about 3,000 female inmates, it is the largest women’s prison in the nation. It originally opened in 1956.

Among the inmates housed at Lowell is 92-year-old Marilyn Hamilton, who was behind the wheel of a white Mercedes on Oct. 30, 2020, when she struck Village of Dunedin residents Jessica Laube and Robert Hunter while they were bicycling on Morse Boulevard near Bonita Boulevard.

Marilyn Hamiltons booking photo with the Department of Corrections
Marilyn Hamilton’s booking photo with the Department of Corrections.

Laube, a fitness enthusiast who taught yoga, bore the brunt of the impact from the Mercedes. She suffered 17 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a paralyzed vocal chord, broken arm, broken wrist, torn finger tendons and ligaments and brain injuries.

While delivering Hamilton’s five-year prison sentence in 2022 in Sumter County Court, Judge Don Briggs emphasized that Hamilton’s biggest legal problem wasn’t the crash itself, but the fact she left the scene.

Hamilton is scheduled for release on July 21, 2027 as she has earned time for good behavior. Earlier this year, she sought clemency.

 

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