NEW PORT RICHEY
retrial turns murder into manslaughter
Torrence Bates originally faced 40 years in prison. Now, he will serve a fraction of that time after a jury convicted him late Tuesday of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. Bates, who was convicted in 2009 of second-degree murder, won a retrial after the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned his conviction last year. It said the jury was not given the proper definition of manslaughter, one of the lesser charges it could have considered for Bates, now 23. At his first trial, Bates testified he was homeless and looking for crack cocaine in 2007 when he went to the New Port Richey house of Jose Godineaux, a 22-year-old drug dealer known as "Pinky." Bates said Godineaux shot at him, with the bullet hitting Bates' hand, causing him to squeeze the trigger on his own handgun, shooting Godineaux in the head. Godineaux's girlfriend testified Bates barged into the apartment with his gun drawn and fired first. Bates did not testify in the new trial, which began Monday. The retrial was a gamble because Bates could have been convicted again of second-degree murder, which carries a possible sentence of life in prison. Circuit Judge Michael Andrews will sentence Bates on the manslaughter charge at a later date. Bates has been incarcerated since his arrest in November 2007.
Rundown City Hall will be demolished
City officials are ready to part with the crumbling City Hall. "We concluded that the building has served its useful life," city engineer Gordon Onderdonk told the City Commission on Tuesday evening. "We recommend that it's time to move on with demolition." He said any rehabilitation plan couldn't meet current building codes. With the commission's blessing, his department is preparing a demolition site plan and the city will seek bids for the work. The three-story building at 38020 Meridian Ave. was built in phases starting in the 1920s. It has served as City Hall since the 1940s. It now shows the wear of its years. The upper levels have cracked windows, exposed air conditioning duct work and the thick smell of mildew. City Manager Billy Poe once described it as "the ugliest building in town." Once the wrecking ball arrives, City Clerk Jim Class and the water department will relocate to the City Hall annex. Last October, other city departments converted the historic train depot into temporary office space. City records and supplies have been moved to storage space at the Dade City Business Center, and the city has reserved funds earmarked for replacing City Hall.
The Main Street Blast celebration with music, arts and crafts, fireworks and more will be held from 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday in Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey. A listing in Wednesday's Pasco Times incorrectly described some of the event's activities.