One thing is certain in Michael Shane Stens’s drunk driving case: he will not be appearing before Flagler County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, his ex-wife, who normally handles all misdemeanors. (They were divorced in 2013.) The case will be reassigned to another judge to avoid a conflict, as in fact took place in Michael Stens’s first appearance, which was handled by Circuit Judge Matthew Foxman. Foxman also signed a reassignment order and took the case for good.
Michael Stens, 44, a resident of Fenimore Lane in Palm Coast, was arrested early this morning after a car crash within a few feet of his house on Fenimore Lane. When Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Shantel Flanary got there at about 11:20 p.m. Sunday night, Stens had been evaluated by Palm Coast Fire Department paramedics and was sitting by his care, with a bloodied face from lacerations. He’d apparently struck the windshield, according to the report.
He refused treatment or transportation to Florida Hospital Flagler.
He’d been driving a 2012 Toyota Prius. He told the deputy he was heading home after getting some food when he lost control of the car, which appeared to have struck a cement culvert, according to the report, before ending up in the swale. Stens said he was unsure how he’d crashed. The Prius was damaged enough that it couldn’t be driven.
The crash was called in by a friend and neighbor of Stens’s who heard the loud crash and saw Stens behind the wheel.
There was no odor of alcohol emitting from the vehicle, the deputy reported in her written observations, but a “moderate” odor of alcohol emitting from Stens, whose attitude, however, the deputy described as “uncooperative/rude.” Under “unusual actions” in the report, the deputy repeated: “Rude,” and in another section of the report, under attitude, “Poor” was checked off.
He was asked to perform field-sobriety exercises, a series of four exercises that test an individual’s physical coordination and ability to follow directions. In the first, he was “very uncooperative” yet eventually complied. He displayed some difficulties with the remaining exercises, allegedly continuing to be uncooperative and missing the mark on several directions. He was then placed under arrest.
At the county jail, where he was placed under 20 minutes’ observation, he refused to submit to a breath test. He will be arraigned on May 24. He was released on his own recognizance.
Stens had previously been a Daytona Beach police officer for 15 years until his retirement last spring. Melissa Moore-Stens was elected to the bench in Flagler in 2012. She was a candidate for a circuit judge appointment to fill the vacancy created by Judge J. David Walsh’s recent retirement, but on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment of R. Lee Smith to the vacancy. Smith served as an Assistant State Attorney and the Chief of the Traffic Homicide Division for the Fourth Judicial Circuit since 2009, according to a release issued by the governor’s office.