Ryan Scott Connell MUG

Ryan Scott Connell

It will be late September before Ryan Scott Connell appears in court to answer to probation-violation charges that led him to make threats against two local schools.

Connell, 34, of Floral City, was set to appear Wednesday morning before Circuit Court Judge Richard “Ric” Howard. His public defender was anticipated to ask Howard for another court date so a doctor could evaluate him.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, out of court, Connell’s case was continued to Sept. 25, rendering the Wednesday hearing unnecessary, Assistant State Attorneys Blake Shore and Nicole Morris said Wednesday.

Prosecutors also plan to hire their own psychologist to give a second opinion on Connell’s mental state. 

Connell remains in custody without a bond.

Connell is facing up to five years for violating conditions of his probation on July 31 after he tested positive for drug use in Mental Health Court. After being informed of the probation violation and detained, Connell subsequently broke the window of a courthouse holding cell and was charged with criminal mischief.

While he was being taken to jail, Connell made comments in front of several Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he would shoot and kill students at Inverness Primary and Citrus High schools, according to sheriff’s-office incident reports.

Connell also made separate and similar statements to a jail psychologist and to his father in a pair of recorded jail phone calls, which prosecutors plan to share with Howard at Connell's sentencing.

In an Aug. 15 announcement, the State Attorney’s Office said it couldn’t prosecute Connell for his statements because they didn’t meet the statutory criteria needed to purse a charge of “written threats to do harm or kill.”

State legislators, county school and sheriff’s officials said they’ve been working to amend laws so that verbal threats can be prosecuted.

Howard first placed Connell on probation in October 2017 for head butting a corrections officer in July 2017, and referred him to Mental Health Court in March after Connell violated his original probationary terms in February 2018, court records show.

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

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