Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

Trevor Dooley sentenced to 8 years for manslaughter

TAMPA — After two families traded their pain, after Trevor Dooley called himself "a stupid old man" in a letter to the daughter of the man he killed, a judge tried to find some answer for the 72-year-old's fatal shooting of a neighbor in 2010 that has never made sense.

Summarizing the tragedy that spun out of an argument over a skateboarder on a Valrico community basketball court, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody concluded, "All this could have been avoided if somebody had stopped and said, 'Let me introduce myself.' "

On Thursday, Moody sentenced Dooley — described by a psychologist as a stickler for rules, "a John Wayne type" — to eight years in prison for the manslaughter death of David James, 41.

As Dooley was led away in handcuffs, his attorney said he would file a request today for his release on bail while an appeal is made. He had been free on bail up to Thursday.

Moody acknowledged her struggle to impose a fair sentence in a case whose complexities inspired national debate. Dooley claimed immunity under Florida's "stand your ground" law, saying he feared being overpowered by the larger, younger man as they wrestled on the ground for Dooley's gun. When the judge rejected that, the defense turned to a self-defense argument.

James' family, including his daughter, Danielle, who was 8 when her father died in front of her, sought a 30-year sentence. Dooley's equally devastated family begged for leniency.

From the testimony she heard, including many stories of kindness to strangers and the raising of three children with advanced degrees, Moody said Dooley appeared to be "decent and generous, a good man who made a very bad decision." To believe the shooting was about a skateboarder, she said, was an oversimplification.

James was playing hoops with Danielle that Sunday afternoon. Dooley came from his home across the street to complain about a 14-year-old skateboarder who had gotten James' permission to use the other side of the court. Witnesses said an argument between James and Dooley took a lethal turn when Dooley flipped up his T-shirt, revealing a gun in his waistband, as he cursed James. They said Dooley then turned and headed home, but James spun him around and tried to grab the gun. The men fell to the ground.

Dooley, who is 5 feet 7 and weighs 160 pounds, told jurors he had to struggle with a man 28 years younger who was 6-1 and 240 pounds. He said he pulled out the gun only after James grabbed him by the throat. "I had no other choice,'' he said.

On the night of his jury conviction in November, Jamaican-born Dooley blamed racism for his prosecution. "Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today?" he asked reporters. "We wouldn't."

Moody said Thursday that Dooley was convicted "by a multiracial jury of men and women who listened to every minute detail."

His family said Dooley didn't really mean to blame his conviction on race, it was something he blurted out in frustration.

Dooley hung his head as forensic psychologist Richard Carpenter attributed his rigidity and inability to express remorse to an abusive childhood that included being tied to a tree and whipped by a stepfather in Jamaica.

Carpenter said the experience compelled him "to never let anyone take that kind of control over him again." He became "an overly diligent, hard-working conservative type."

Dooley's attorney Ronald Tulin said Dooley had been his daughter's middle school bus driver.

The prosecution and James' family said the Dooley who killed was a criminal.

"You're a bitter old man who is trying convince everybody you're a kind, frail old man," said James' widow, Kanina. "I hope you spend the rest of your miserable life in jail."

James' daughter, Danielle, who now lives in Minnesota, wrote a letter read in court that said, "I never wanted my dad's last words to be 'Call an ambulance. I've been shot.' " She ended the letter by saying, "I hate your guts, Trevor Dooley."

In response, Dooley's attorney read a letter directed at Danielle. "If I could find the words," Dooley wrote, "I would tell her how sorry I am for the pain I caused. … I would like Danielle to find it in her heart to forgive a stupid old man."

John Barry can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3383.

Comments
Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

Softball: Plant City perfect in district finals with Ashley Bullion on mound

PLANT CITY — Plant City softball coach Ashley Bullion is 4-for-4 after Thursday night.Four years at the helm, four district titles.The latest championship came in a 4-1 victory over East Bay in the Class 8A, District 6 final, a victory highligh...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Softball: Recent momentum carries Mitchell past Sunlake

LAND O' LAKES — Despite being on the wrong end of two lopsided outcomes to Sunlake during the regular season, recent events gave Mitchell hope in its Class 7A-10 district final rematch with the Seahawks.Just two days prior, the Mustangs be...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Robinson makes it 10 straight wins vs. Jefferson

TAMPA — For the Robinson softball team, the perfect 10 was complete.The top-seeded Knights defeated No. 2 Jefferson for the 10th consecutive time Thursday and claimed their fifth district championship in a row, a 12-2 five-inning victory in the...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: Itís April, so Chamberlain is winning

TAMPA — Coach Bob Diez and his Chamberlain Chiefs have always believed in this motto: "Be good in April."This is their season.The Chiefs added another Class 7A-8 district title Thursday against Gaither with a 7-0 victory.With the win, the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Softball: East Lake is aggressive from the start

TARPON SPRINGS — If strong pitching and defense are the bellwethers of a deep playoff run, consider East Lake ready.Playing second seed Pinellas Park on Thursday night for the Class 8A-7 title, the host Eagles (22-3) used that philosophy to mak...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

NFL draft: Chargers take FSUís Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in t...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

NFL draft: Patriots pick Lakewood alum Isaiah Wynn at No. 23

Lakewood High alumnus and former Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was drafted No. 23 overall Thursday by the Patriots.Wynn becomes one of the highest drafted offensive linemen in Tampa Bay history and the first Pinellas County player to go in th...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

Bucs trade down with Bills, take strongman DT Vita Vea No. 12

TAMPA — Vita Vea loves to tell the story about the trip he took to French Polynesia with some University of Washington students and the group coming upon some enormous rocks."So over there, their strongman competition is they have a tradition w...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

Another reason the Bucs took defensive tackle Vita Vea at No. 12

TAMPA — The selection of Vita Vea is a move the Bucs made for the present and the future. While Gerald McCoy remains a dominant defensive tackle, he turned 30 in February and is due to make $12.3 million this season and $13 million in...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Bucs GM Jason Licht has assembled enough talent to win

Bucs GM Jason Licht has assembled enough talent to win

TAMPA — Another busy offseason. Another first round of the NFL draft. Another interesting night.And, through it all, Bucs general manager Jason Licht has looked pretty darn good.He spent the past couple of months patching his offensive line, sp...
Updated: 23 minutes ago