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Defendant’s bond revoked in hit-and-run case

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jul 14, 2021

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The defendant in a case of a hit-and-run that fatally injured a Suncoast Estates girl in January 2020 had her bond revoked by a judge Tuesday after she was accused of threatening a witness in February.

Courtney Gainey, 25, was charged with tampering with a witness, victim or informant, a third-degree felony, after an eyewitness accused Gainey of threatening him in testimony Tuesday in front of Judge Robert Branning.

According to the deposition of eyewitness Austin Britton, he said, “I was on the phone with Courtney earlier and I was getting threats not to come here, saying that you’re gonna – you got a whole plan for me and everything.”

When questioned by counsel, he said “I got told my life was going to be a living hell if I showed up.”

During testimony Tuesday, Britton also said that on the day of his deposition, Gainey attempted to persuade him to not go to the deposition. She said that it was only a subpoena, to think of her kids and how they have been friends for so long.

He added that a relative of the defendant also told him not to go to the deposition, as they were not going to go, either.

It was at the end of the conversation that Britton said she made the statement, which Britton said made him feel threatened.

Florida statute says that the court can revoke bail and order pretrial detention if the court finds probable cause to believe a defendant committed a new crime while on release.

The court determined that while Britton’s testimony in his deposition was vague and did not rise to the level of probable cause, his testimony Tuesday provided more detail which rose to the level of probable cause, thus the request to remand the defendant was granted.

Gainey has pleaded not guilty to both charges involving the crash. Her trial is set for Sept. 12.

On January 11, 2020, Allana Staiano, 14, was walking home with her best friend Taylor Stewart, 15, along McDaniel Drive when they were stuck by a car whose driver did not stop to help the girls. Allana was killed while her friend, Taylor, suffered a broken arm.

Gainey surrendered to authorities and was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, and Hit and Run (Failure to Stop/Remain at Crash involving Injury other than Serious Bodily Injury), both felonies.

The incident brought into focus the lack of streetlights and sidewalks in Suncoast Estates, something residents there are still waiting for.