Fla. paramedic sentenced for role in 'selfie war'

Kayla Dubois was ordered to serve one year of probation for each count and agreed to testify when paramedic Christopher Wimmer is sentenced for his participation

By Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Kayla Dubois, one of two Okaloosa County paramedics prosecuted for her role in a "selfie war" competition that featured incapacitated patients as photo subjects, will not serve jail time.

Dubois accepted a plea deal Monday that knocked two felony charges of illegally disclosing communications down to misdemeanor counts of attempted interception of oral communication.

She was ordered to serve one year of probation for each count and has agreed to testify truthfully next month when her co-defendant, Christopher Wimmer, is sentenced for his participation in the selfie war competition.

Wimmer faces seven felony counts of illegal disclosing communications and a misdemeanor battery charge. He will be sentenced Sept. 19.

Dubois, 24, of Navarre, and Wimmer, 33, of Crestview, were arrested July 21, 2016 and charged with using their personal cell phones to photograph and record dozens of patients who had been placed inside an ambulance while sedated, intoxicated or otherwise unconscious.

A 60-day jail sentence was on the table Monday when Dubois stood before Circuit Court Judge William Stone, but Stone said he could see on the defendant's face the remorse she felt for what she'd done.

"A letter I received from the defendant was one of the most heartfelt and sincere I've read," Stone said. "I don't make a decision in a case until I hear or see everything. I wanted to see how the defendant acted today, to understand she realized she'd breached one of our society's most sacred trusts."

Dubois wept as she tried to read an apology to the court Monday, then broke down again as the judge spoke of the trusted role emergency medical personnel play in a community.

"I'm truly and deeply sorry. I lost my career over this," Dubois said, explaining becoming an EMT/paramedic had been, for her, a lifelong dream.

During the course of her probation Dubois is prohibited from working in the EMT/paramedic profession.

Prompted by Defense Attorney Don Dewrell, Dubois notified the court that at the time she engaged with Wimmer in the selfie war she was suffering from Post Tramatic Stress Disorder.

Dewrell confirmed Dubois had responded to the scene of the shooting death of Okaloosa County Bill Myers in September of 2015.

"Seeing that, seeing everything, doesn't excuse my actions," Dubois told the court. "But I know I wasn't myself during that period."

Dewrell argued to the court that his client had sought out treatment for PTSD and notified Wimmer she no longer wanted to participate in selfie wars before anything about the ambulance photos became public.

Dewrell also argued that the two videos captured by Dubois during the illegal photo competition were not nearly so incriminating as those Wimmer had published.

"Neither one of hers were really that bad," Dewrell said. "His were disturbing. You think you'd know not to do something like that. Hers weren't that way."

Copyright 2017 Northwest Florida Daily News

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