• 'They wouldn't treat a murderer like they treated me,' says woman, 93, arrested during eviction

    By: Len Kiese

    Updated:

    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A 93-year-old Eustis woman arrested this week after allegedly refusing to leave the apartment she was being evicted from, has been released from jail. 

    Juanita Fitzgerald was taken to the Lake County Jail after police said she refused to leave her apartment.

    She was released Thursday by the judge on her own recognizance and was turned over to a caregiver.

    Before Fitzgerald left the jail, she showed Channel 9 the bruises on her arms and legs, injuries she said she received during her arrest.

    "Now, can you imagine anybody doing that to an old woman?" she asked. "They wouldn't treat a murderer like they treated me."

    Bodycam footage released by Eustis police show officers taking a screaming Fitzgerald to jail. At one point, she slides out of her wheelchair onto the ground to avoid arrest.

    Read: Eustis woman evicted days before her 94th birthday, jailed when she refuses to leave, police say

     

    “There’s no reason for me to leave. Not one,” said Fitzgerald.

    Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wearing handcuffs, she spoke to Channel 9 reporter Len Kiese from jail earlier in the day Thursday.

    Watch: Woman, 93, speaks about arrest

    Fitzgerald said she lived at Franklin House, an affordable housing facility in Eustis, for nearly eight years.

    She said she couldn’t understand why she was being evicted, but court records show she owed rent and would not pay.

    According to police reports, she told officers, “Unless you carry me out of here, I’m, not going anywhere.”

    Watch: Arrest of 93-year-old Eustis woman

    When Fitzgerald refused to leave the property Tuesday night, police officers stepped in.

    Police said they offered Fitzgerald assistance from nearly a dozen agencies to avoid arresting her, but she refused, so they had no choice but to place her under arrest for trespassing.

    Franklin House resident Dave Howell didn't understand why Fitzgerald was so resistant to accepting help.

    "Everybody here has attempted to help her," he said. "And one thing's that unique (is) she refuses all help."

    After spending two nights in jail, Fitzgerald said she’ll bounce back.

    “I’m a born-again Christian and I’m spirit-filled,” she said.

    Fitzgerald also said she would like to go back to Franklin House, if possible.

    "Yeah, I'd go back there and live," she said. "You know, that's all the people I know."

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