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Date of Issue: July 15, 2009

Corona questions legal handling of case

The man accused of stealing missing Haley’s Motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler’s car is questioning the tactics of his defense.

Robert Corona, 38, was arrested Nov. 6, 2008, by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies after a pursuit that resulted in the seizure of Musil-Buehler’s car.

Corona initially was identified as a person of interest in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance, but later MCSO authorities said they suspected he did not know the Holmes Beach woman.

Corona, according to the MCSO, has said he found Musil-Buehler’s car, with the key in the ignition, behind a bar on 14th Street in Bradenton.

In a recent letter filed in his case record, Corona supports that claim as he questions why the public defenders he has been assigned have failed to follow his requests as the case proceeds.

Writing to defense attorney John J. Pangallo, Corona stated that he could not be found guilty of the grand theft auto charge that he faces, but only a misdemeanor for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He also is charged with resisting arrest and driving without a valid license.

“I used the car to joy ride around the neighborhood,” he wrote in the letter, which urged Pangallo to file a motion to dismiss the case against Corona for lack of jurisdiction.

Corona also wrote, “It is mentioned on the record that I am being held on a pretext for information regarding the disappearance of the owner of the vehicle. This is illegal detainment, where the state has not filed by information any charge against me regarding such case, but formed a pretext to persuade the court to hold me as a suspect. So, this issue needs to be addressed.”

Authorities said Corona has not been held in connection to Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

Musil-Buehler of Holmes Beach was reported missing by her estranged husband Tom Buehler on Nov. 6, 2008, after Corona was arrested and her car recovered. The earliest information released by the MCSO was that Corona told authorities he was given the keys to Musil-Buehler’s vehicle to go buy drugs, but allegedly Corona later changed his statement, claiming he found the car outside a bar.

Corona has been held at the Manatee County jail since his arrest, and, despite the scheduling of multiple hearings, has yet to appear in a courtroom at the Manatee County Judicial Center.

He is scheduled to go to trial the week of Aug. 10, but a hearing in late July will determine whether the parties are ready to go before a jury.