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Pasco County man pleads guilty to murder charges, sentenced to life in prison with no parole

NEW PORT RICHEY

plea in double homicide leads to life sentence

Christopher Cheatham, long able to slip through authorities' hands, will never know freedom again. The 36-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree murder and will serve two consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole, his attorney said. He was set to go to trial this week on charges he fatally shot Theodore Skarupski, 35, and George Martin Jr., 25, on July 10, 2006, in Hudson. He was arrested 10 days later at an Alabama motel, but before that a Pasco SWAT team just missed nabbing him at a Travelodge on U.S. 19 in Port Richey. Authorities said Skarupski had questioned Cheatham's sexuality to Cheatham's girlfriend.

DADE CITY

Bicyclist fatally shot in the street

Dade City police found Charles Andrew Simonds, 37, dead of multiple gunshot wounds to his back alongside 21st Street and Main Avenue about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Police were responding to a suspicious vehicle complaint when an additional call came in regarding gunshots heard in the area. Police, a report said, found Simonds lying on the ground. Police theorize that Simonds was riding a bicycle southbound on 21st Street when he was shot. Witnesses reported an SUV-type vehicle leaving the area after shots were heard. Simonds lived at 13705 23rd St. in Dade City.

TRINITY

Aloha asks judge for escrow funds

Aloha Utilities has asked a judge to block the Florida Public Service Commission from holding an April 21 hearing to decide the fate of nearly $375,000 in disputed escrow funds. The PSC staff has recommended transferring $300,000 of the money to the state agency that bought Aloha's assets, to reduce the size of an upcoming rate increase for 25,000 customers in the Trinity and Seven Springs area. But the former utility argues it should get to keep the money. Aloha contends it should be a judge, not the PSC, that settles the dispute, as Aloha is no longer a utility under the commission's jurisdiction. Aloha argues the PSC is a politically appointed group and under pressure to side with former customers, who say the money represents past refunds payable to them.

Correction

Residents of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties with private wells remain under the Modified Phase III restrictions, which allow using well water to irrigate lawns from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. or from 6 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on the homeowner's designated day. A column in Saturday's Times indicated otherwise.

Pasco deaths

Detailed obituaries are published in Section B.

Pasco County man pleads guilty to murder charges, sentenced to life in prison with no parole 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:33pm]
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