Friday, February 23, 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

High school scoreboard for Feb. 22

Thursday’s scoreboardSoftballBoca Ciega 4, Pinellas Park 2Admiral Farragut 7, Northside Christian 1Boys tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Clearwater Central Cath. 4, Jesuit 3Girls tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Boys basketballClass 3A, region semifina...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Eight days after mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

In 2015, Conchy the flamingo showed up at Florida’s Naval Air Station Key West, and he wouldn’t leave. Normally, managers on the grounds lethally remove feathered troublemakers — it can be very dangerous with birds flying around million-dollar fighte...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Associated PressSTARKE — An inmate convicted of raping and killing a college student decades ago screamed and yelled "murderers!" three times, thrashing on a gurney as he was being put to death Thursday. The governor’s office said Eric Scott Branch, ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

TAMPA — Across Interstate 4 from Ybor City’s nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic — and much less pleasant — than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention — the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House — CNN’s Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Updated: 6 hours ago