Video shows confession
Feb 14, 2013 (The Brunswick News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Federal prosecutors and the defense attorney will make closing arguments Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brunswick in the case of a Jacksonville man who is accused of lying to federal officers about being bitten by a black mamba snake in 2011.
In a video shown in court, John K. Rosenbaum Jr., 24, of Jacksonville, appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as he signed papers more than 10 months ago making official his confession to rangers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
In the video, filmed April 8, 2012, Rosenbaum, who is charged with making false statements, admitted he was actually bitten at his house by an Egyptian banded cobra, which he was permitted in Florida to own.
At the end of the video, Rosenbaum turned over a dead cobra wrapped in a plastic grocery bag to rangers.
His original story, told to doctors and law enforcement the day he was bitten and after he was treated for the bite, was that a black mamba bit him around 2 a.m., Nov. 21, 2011 in the parking lot of the Wendy's restaurant near exit 3 of Interstate 95 before the man who was allegedly selling him the snake retrieved the animal and left the scene.
Rosenbaum said in the video he was bitten while cleaning the cobra's aquarium and began "showboating" with the snake.
This was not the first time he had been bitten and told Hodges he did not want to go to Shands Medical Center because he worked there as a security guard and had been treated there previously.
He instead searched the Internet for another hospital and drove his wife's car 45 minutes away to the Southeast Georgia Health System hospital in St. Marys to seek treatment.
Rosenbaum told rangers he was feeling the effects of the highly venomous snake bite when he told them about the black mamba, and did not intend to mislead them.
His defense attorney, James Newton, of Brunswick, argued that Rosenbaum told the story the first time under the duress of a poisonous snake bite, and later while he was under the effects of a powerful sedative called Versed.
Dr. Dawn Sollee, assistant director for the Florida poison control center, testified about the effects of the sedative which was used to put Rosenbaum into an 18-hour induced coma while he was in the intensive care unit. Sollee said the effects of the drug can last as long as six hours after it is used.
Newton said investigators were questioning Rosenbaum about the bite two to three hours after he was awoken by doctors and did not give him enough time to shake the effects of the drug.
But prosecutors say he knowingly and willingly lied to investigators and planned the hoax from the beginning.
Rosenbaum arrived at the St. Marys hospital with the words black mamba and the name of the anti venom written on his arm, something prosecutors say showed that he prepared the story before driving there.
Dino Ferri, curator of herpetology at the Jacksonville Zoo, testified that Rosenbaum contacted him on Nov. 26, 2011, less than a week after the bite, and dropped off two live Gaboon vipers he no longer wanted.
Ferri said Rosenbaum told him a detailed account of the fictional attempted black mamba purchase.
Closing arguments in the case will begin at 9 a.m. this morning at the Frank M. Scarlett Federal Building, 801 Gloucester Street in Brunswick.
-- Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at [email protected] brunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.
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