Saturday, September 22, 2018
News Roundup

Former Pinellas teacher acquitted in ex-husband's slaying faces wrongful death lawsuit

Two months ago, a jury acquitted Cara Ryan of murdering her ex-husband, a former St. Petersburg police officer.

But Ryan may go to court again for the 2015 shooting — this time because of wrongful death lawsuit recently filed by the daughter of Sgt. John "J.J." Rush.

Meghan Rush's attorney, Christian Waugh, said it's a chance for the 23-year-old to find closure in the 2015 slaying of her father.

"Our point and our job with this lawsuit is to get what justice we can," Waugh said.

Ryan, 47, did not return calls for comment Thursday. Attorney Roger Futerman, who represented her during the criminal trial, said: "Just because you file a lawsuit, doesn't mean it's going to prevail."

The former Clearwater High School teacher was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, accused of fatally shooting Rush at her Indian Rocks Beach apartment on March 7, 2015. During her trial, defense attorneys said she shot her husband in self-defense. Prosecutors argued that the shooting was intentional, and that afterward Ryan changed her story about what happened several times.

After two hours of deliberation, a jury sided with Ryan and found her not guilty on Jan. 27.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court on March 6 and seeks to hold Ryan responsible for John Rush's death. It also seeks to bar Ryan from claiming any of her ex-husband's life insurance and other benefits under a Florida law called the "Slayer Statute" that prohibits one from receiving income from the person they killed.

The couple married in 1997 and then divorced in 2006, but continued to date and stayed friends in later years. Josh Rush's daughter, Meghan, is from a previous marriage. He had retired from the police force as a sergeant in the forensic unit and started working as an investigator with the medical examiner.

Ryan, according to the lawsuit, "exerted great control and influence of (John) Rush's actions."

In February 2015, John Rush told Ryan he was breaking up with her and moving out of their home — this time for good. Still, he occasionally checked in on her and made repairs at the apartment.

Prosecutors and the lawsuit chronicle the same time line of the murder:

On March 7, John Rush came over to the apartment at 2601 1st Street after Ryan texted him. While he was there, the lawsuit states, she received a text from another man, so John Rush left. Ryan called him six times, and John Rush returned to her house. Moments later, she shot him in the back.

He stumbled out of the apartment seeking help from a neighbor. In her 911 call to dispatchers, Ryan said he had raped her.

"The one thing that Defendant could not change by story-telling, however, was the death of J.J. Rush," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also claimed that Ryan may be receiving Rush's pension, roughly $1,500 a month, as well as life insurance benefits. As her father's heir, the lawsuit said the funds should be distributed to Meghan Rush.

Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] Follow @lauracmorel.

Comments
Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

TARPON SPRINGS — A 27-year-old Tarpon Springs woman died Saturday after she was struck by a car as she walked along U.S. 19 pushing a stroller with a 2-year-old in it while two 6-year-olds walked beside her, police said.Tymira Latrel Leverson and the...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

For starters: Rays at Blue Jays, with Meadows in the lineup

UPDATE, 2:41: Cash said Kiermaier was "a little banged up" from a slide on Thursday so he gave him the day off vs. the lefty but is available, and that allowed Meadows to be in the lineup. … Cash also said Ji-Man Choi, who left Friday's game wi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Legendary Tampa criminal defense attorney Barry Cohen dies at 79

Legendary Tampa criminal defense attorney Barry Cohen dies at 79

TAMPA — The accused and the wronged beat a path to Barry Cohen’s door.The tenacious, canny criminal defense attorney took on pharmaceutical giants and law enforcement agencies. When judges and attorneys needed representation, they often reached out t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

Football: Tampa Bay Tech 28, Hillsborough 27

TAMPA — The decision was made as soon as Hillsborough got the ball back. Trailing by a touchdown with just over four minutes remaining against Tampa Bay Tech, the Terriers had the ball on their own 6-yard line.They hadn't been able to move the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

Football: Clearwater 34, Mitchell 7

TRINITY — What at first looked like a defensive stalemate between Clearwater and Mitchell quickly turned into a rout.Clearwater had revenge on its mind Friday night after a 45-28 loss to Mitchell last year during the the regular season. The Tor...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

ST. PETERSBURG — A 47-year-old Pinellas Park man died Friday night after his pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic, rolled over and ejected him, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Troopers said the crash took place at 7:15 p.m. at Feather So...
Updated: 4 hours ago
USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

USF’s Kitija Laksa begins play in FIBA Women’s World Cup

Before resuming her assault on USF's record books, Kitija Laksa will try to make history with her homeland.A native of Riga, Latvia, Laksa begins play with her native country this morning in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in Spain.Latvia is ma...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

Football: Largo 35, Countryside 0

LARGO — The offense was relentless and merciless Friday night, but that has been the case a lot recently. Largo is scoring points in bunches and getting contributions from everyone. Add in a defense that has been smothering, as well as a special team...
Published: 09/22/18
How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

Active assailant. Run-hide-fight. Barricade the classroom. The language of preventing a shooting like the one this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is often filled with terms that can stir up fear in students, often out of necessity.But f...
Published: 09/22/18
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Updated: 1 hour ago