New Port Richey
Jury quick to rule 'not guilty' in rape case
Three men accused of raping a woman after a night at a bar on U.S. 19 were found not guilty by a jury this week. Defense attorney Willie Pura said jurors deliberated just 20 minutes before acquitting Feliz Perez-Leon, Alejandro Perez-Leon and Ricardo Perez of sexual battery. The woman had told authorities that two of them of held her down while another one raped her at a house on Haven Drive last November. Pura said the woman actually accepted $50 from one of the men in exchange for sex, then turned on them with the accusation. The men, who are cousins, are not in the country legally, Pura said, and remain in custody on an immigration hold.
Judge okays use of added evidence
A judge ruled Friday that prosecutors may use evidence to try to show that a man accused of robbing and raping an elderly woman in Zephyrhills in the spring of 2007 also committed a similar offense three weeks later. Bobby Lee Black III, 20, is set to face trial next week, accused of breaking into the mobile home of a 66-year-old woman. Prosecutors say Black raped her, then waited while his friend, Jathniel McMichael, did the same. They left with her wallet and jewelry. Three weeks later, another woman, living alone in a mobile home park, was attacked. This time the assailants forced her into her van, drove her to a bank to take money from an ATM, raped her and then pushed her into a quarry and left her for dead. Black and McMichael, whose trial has been delayed, are also charged in that crime and will face separate trials for that incident. Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa ruled that the circumstances of the attacks are similar enough to show a pattern.
New Port Richey
Public works building opens
A new city public works facility officially opened Friday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new $4.6 million facility, located at 6132 Pinehill Road, will house administrative offices, the operations center and millions of dollars of heavy equipment. The facility is twice as big as the old location, which will continue to be used for fleet maintenance and storage. The project was paid for mostly with fee-based water and sewer and stormwater accounts as well as Penny for Pasco funds.