Concerns about integrity of investigation of a deadly hit and run

Warren Wright

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Concerns about integrity of investigation of a deadly hit and run

CREATED Dec. 27, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The state attorney's office is taking steps to insure the integrity of a hit and run fatality investigation.  

Charles Lawson was trusted with protecting you and investigating crimes.
Now he is considered a suspect in deadly hit and run crash on Christmas eve. 
The family of the Michael Sasen, the victim in the crash, wants to make sure their case is treated fairly given Lawson's connection to the prosecutor's office. 
A Chevy impala, under a blue tarp, sits in the evidence yard at the Florida Highway Patrol.
It was driven by Charles Lawson, an investigator for the state attorney's office.
He was arrested in this state owned vehicle for a DUI on Christmas Day.
Investigators say the car shows signs of damage similar to a car that would have been involved in a pedestrian collision.
But Johnnie Griffin, the victim's girlfriend, has concerns that Lawson's connections may complicate the investigation.
She says, "From our understanding the man was part of the system, so that makes the investigation even that much more difficult."
Samantha Syoen with the state attorney's office says that shouldn't be an issue.
Syoen points out that it's removing all ties to the case to avoid a conflict of interest.
It issued a letter to the Governors office confirming a state attorney from another district will be assigned to the case.
But what about other investigations Lawson has worked on?  
Does his arrest jeopardize those cases?
The state attorney's office says no.
Syoen says, "Any cases that he would be handling, there's nothing he would be necessarily taking the stand for, that sort of thing."
Meanwhile, the Sasen family has hired the Wilbur Smith law firm to represent Sasen's youngest son, a 10-year-old boy who lives in Massachusetts.  
Michael Sasens oldest son passed away this March.
Sasen moved down to Fort Myers to help his father who was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Missing his boys on Christmas morning, Michael Sasen decided to take an early morning walk
along McGregor Boulevard when he was struck and killed.
Right now FHP is processing the evidence at their laboratory.
Lt. Greg Bueno says, "These things take time and make no mistake about it, we are investigating every day so that we can come to a conclusion as to what happened."
Peter Ringsmuth is representing Charles Lawson.
Lawson has been suspended with pay while the investigation continues.