By: Sharon Aron Baron
The Broward County Republicans have a thorn in their side.
The party that’s tough on crime can’t seem to remove an elected member of their executive board who was charged with the heinous premeditated attempted murder of a young woman he hit over the head with a hammer 40 times.
Rupert Tarsey, 28, of Parkland, was elected party secretary of the Broward Republican Executive Committee six months ago and dismissed the charges as only a misdemeanor; however, in documents we obtained, the charges were more serious.
Before changing his name in 2009, he was known as Rupert Tumin Ditsworth. Tarsey came from a wealthy family. His grandfather, Jason Tarsey, owned the historic Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, and his mother is a real estate heiress.
He parked next to a brick wall where he was obscured, and while Elizabeth was still strapped in her seatbelt, he attacked her with a claw hammer, swinging it in full force.” – the victim’s father Dr. Barcay.
In 2007, while a 17-year-old student at one of the nation’s most prestigious college-prep schools, Harvard-Westlake, in California, Tarsey bludgeoned a female student with a hammer. When it was first reported in the local media in September, Tarsey said he was charged with a misdemeanor and refused to step down from his position.
“In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,” Tarsey said to the Miami Herald. “It’s not the charges that matter; it’s what happens in court.”
Party Chair Robert Sutton of Coral Springs suspended him, but Tarsey insisted he was elected fair and square and had no plan to resign.
“He deceived us,” Sutton told The Herald. “It looks like he even used a reputation management firm to ensure we wouldn’t find out who he is.”
We discovered through court records that Tarsey was charged with three felony counts: one count of attempted premeditated murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Arraignment Hearing
According to the LA Times, on May 14, 2007, after finishing their Advanced Placement exams, Elizabeth Barcay noticed a male student (Tarsey) who looked forlorn, according to the account her mother, Barbara Hayden, heard her give to Los Angeles Police. He told her he was waiting for a friend and asked her to go to Jamba Juice with him. She did not know the boy very well, her mother said. About a year and a half before, the boy had invited her to a movie. Hayden said that she had accepted, but he had never followed up.
After going to the restaurant, Tarsey did not take Elizabeth back to school. Instead, he drove her to the end of a cul-de-sac in his 2000 Jaguar.
The victim’s father, Dr. Barcay, stated in the sentencing hearing transcript we obtained that Ditsworth (now Tarsey) began attacking his daughter without provocation or explanation.
“He parked next to a brick wall where he was obscured, and while Elizabeth was still strapped in her seatbelt, he attacked her with a claw hammer, swinging it in full force.”
Twenty of the head blows were completely through the scalp to the bone. In all, they counted at least 40 visible blows. He told the Tarsey at the hearing:
“You brutally bludgeoned her head, arms, and legs in an attempt to kill her.”
Elizabeth did not lose consciousness. She used her legs to push him away, unable to free herself from the seat belt. He swung wildly at her legs with the hammer, crushing her tibia into shards. When she could not be overpowered, Tarsey exited the car, walked over to her side, grabbed her hair, and started swinging. Then the hammer broke. It was then he tried to strangle her. At that point, she bit his hand as he grabbed her neck. It was then that he said. “I’m done.”
Elizabeth managed to get out of the seat belt and out of the car as he began driving, but she could not walk. While her leg was crushed at this time, she dragged herself across a lawn, screaming for help.
Dr. Barcay said that Elizabeth was alive and was trying to reclaim as much of her life as possible.
“… She is only alive because she refused to stop fighting you despite your crushing blows to her head, face, arms, and legs and despite your efforts to strangle her.”
After the attempted murder, a rod was inserted into Elizabeth’s shattered leg from her knee to her ankle, which will remain in place for the rest of her life.
“Her leg is permanently swollen and scarred; she cannot run, she cannot jog, she cannot hike, and she has nightmares frequently relieving the attack.”
He said that his daughter believes it turned out the best it could have been because if she refused his invitation, she thinks he would have committed the brutal acts on someone else. After all, it was his intent to commit murder that day.
After the attempted murder, Tarsey was taken by his parents to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. One month later, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office moved to try him as an adult.
Both families agreed on a confidential settlement estimated in the millions.
Tarsey was never tried, never served prison, nor did the victim’s family insist on it. However, he was placed on probation for six years, allowing him to travel to Florida and Hawaii. During the first 12 months, he wore a monitor.
Unlike Florida, California allows felony offenses to be reduced to misdemeanors upon a motion after a successful conclusion to probation. These are called wobblers, where one “wobbles” between a felony and a misdemeanor. In Florida, a judge has the authority to withhold adjudication. However, this does not apply to convicted felons, nor would they allow withhold adjudication for aggravated battery, equivalent to Tarsey’s assault with a deadly weapon charge in California.
Tarsey’s felony plea, after a successful conclusion to probation, did just that: it ‘wobbled’ to a misdemeanor charge.
There are many reasons why he may have needed a felony conviction off his record. It’s not only tough to get a job or own a firearm, but a convicted felon cannot register to vote in Florida and to get these rights back requires the governor and the clemency board to agree to give that right back to you. Most importantly, when the judge reduced his felony to a misdemeanor, Tarsey could legally state that he had never been convicted of a felony.
Dr. Barcay said they believed he was dangerous and should have gone to prison.
“Instead, you’re going to school, making friends, enjoying the outdoors, and posing for pictures with your fraternity brothers with paintball guns in army fatigues. Your mother has hired IT experts to try to erase you with linked web pages, elementary school games, fuzzy bunnies, and rainbows, all designed to bury the searches that reveal the brutal attack and the facts of your actions.”
In 2010, Tarsey moved to Florida and resides in a $1.9 million home in Parkland. Barclay said he has not heard Tarsey take any responsibility for his actions.
“We have no reason to believe that you’re any less dangerous today than you were three years ago,” he said.
- Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.
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