Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Ex-boyfriend stalked her, says survivor of fatal crash

LARGO — The 911 call captured the chaos inside Addienys Calderon Martinez’s Honda Accord on Dec. 12, 2015.

His girlfriend, Madelyn Gonzalez Mederos, sped down 66th Street N at more than 100 mph as she tried to get away from a disgruntled ex-boyfriend who followed close behind.

"We’re being persecuted!" Calderon yelled in Spanish at the dispatcher as Gonzalez screamed. "They’re following us!"

Moments later after running a red light at Bryan Dairy Road, Gonzalez lost control of the car and slammed into a pole. She survived the wreck, but Calderon died.

Behind them was Yordan Acosta Cortina, 39, whom prosecutors described this week as a controlling ex-boyfriend who inundated Gonzalez’s phone with threatening text messages after she ended their 11-year relationship in November 2015.

Gonzalez, a 31-year-old day care worker from Cuba, testified about the days leading up to the fatal crash during Acosta Cortina’s trial. He is charged with first-degree felony murder and manslaughter.

Calderon, 25, left his hometown of Pinar Del Rio, Cuba, a year earlier and had dreams of learning English and going to college.

"He came here for a better life," said his father, Alberto Calderon, on Wednesday outside the courtroom. "And instead, he lost his life."

Gonzalez remained stoic as she identified Acosta in the courtroom and flipped through cell phone records that documented their turbulent relationship.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: He chased after his ex. She crashed. Now he’s on trial for murder.

They met in Cuba when she was 18 years old. Acosta, she said, was always controlling and at times physically violent with her. He constantly asked about her whereabouts and quizzed her on acquaintances.

When they moved to Tampa a few years ago, that didn’t change. But on Nov. 27, 2015, Gonzalez had had enough, she said. With help from her mother, she moved out of their efficiency while Acosta wasn’t home. In a brief phone call later, she told him it was over.

She wanted freedom. But for the next 16 days, Gonzalez said she lived in fear as Acosta sent her about 2,000 text messages and called her more than 100 times. He also drove to Miami after Gonzalez’s mother lied to him and said her daughter had moved to South Florida.

One text read: "If you betrayed me, I will find out."

Another read: "You are creating a storm for no reason. Baby, understand that my life is tied up to yours."

On Dec. 7, 2015, Acosta showed up at Gonzalez’ workplace, Hit Promotional Products at 7150 Bryan Dairy Road in Largo. He sneaked inside the factory and found Gonzalez talking to her new boyfriend, Calderon.

She called 911, but none of the dispatchers spoke Spanish. They called the language line four times and no one picked up. They sent officers to respond, who told Acosta to leave.

But he persisted, sending another flurry of texts in the following days.

Five days later, video surveillance shows he waited for her outside Hit Promotional Products. Gonzalez said she got off work at 12:30 a.m. with Calderon. She drove his car because he was tired. They needed to fuel up, so she pulled into a nearby Circle K. But when she got out of the Honda, she saw Acosta parked next to her in a car she didn’t recognize.

Gonzalez said she panicked.

"The moment I saw him," she said, "All I wanted to do was disappear."

She sped away, but Acosta pulled in behind her. She accelerated to 100 mph, but he matched her speed. She made a U-turn and ran a red light at Bryan Dairy Road.

"I had to run it because if I didn’t, he would get out of the car and get me," Gonzalez said.

Near 100th Avenue N, she lost control and slammed into a pole.

During cross examination, defense attorney Daniel Castillo raised doubts that Gonzalez was in fear. She left Cuba without Acosta, but moved in with him when he also came to the state.

He also questioned Gonzalez about why she fled from the gas station, instead of seeking help from a station clerk. He pointed out that Acosta pulled her out of the wreckage when she crashed.

She only began saying she was afraid, Castillo said, when Gonzalez learned at the hospital that Calderon was dead.

"He didn’t die because of me," Gonzalez told him. "I’m here thanks to God. I did not choose to stay alive."

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

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Stat to watch in Game 7

We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team what's the statistic to watch in tonight's Game 7 of the Lightning-Capitals series (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network). Here's their answers. Share yours in the comments section below:Martin Fennelly, columnist:&#...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Hel...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: All on the line for Lightning; Wrigley gum heiress is scammed; booze at the Magic Kingdom; Kendrick Lamar review

The Daystarter: All on the line for Lightning; Wrigley gum heiress is scammed; booze at the Magic Kingdom; Kendrick Lamar review

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• The forecast calls for partly sunny weather with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms mainly in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of rain is...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Lightning-Capitals: The most compelling Game 7 personality

Who is the most compelling personality in Lightning-Capitals Game 7?We asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for their answer. Who's yours? Please share in the comments section and feel free to take issue with our answers.JOIN the Lightning Strike...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shopping Tampa for Ukraine commandos: Bomb-sniffers, drones and laser-proof sniper scopes

Shopping Tampa for Ukraine commandos: Bomb-sniffers, drones and laser-proof sniper scopes

TAMPA — Like a homeowner combing Home Depot for his latest project, Roman Mashovets spent a good part of Tuesday wandering the floor at the Tampa Convention Center.But instead of nails and plywood, Mashovets — a former Ukraine special operations forc...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Amid gravestones, one man channels pain into reverence

Amid gravestones, one man channels pain into reverence

TAMPA - In Woodlawn Cemetery, just north of downtown, Andrew Lumish knelt in front of a headstone. He scrubbed mold and mildew off the front with a soft brush, leaving his hands covered in a green sludge.He would rinse and repeat the process until th...
Published: 05/23/18
Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

In a scene repeated at public buildings across the country, the American flag in front of the library outside my office window was lowered to half-staff this week.This time for 10 dead in Texas.In February, the American flag was similarly half-staff ...
Published: 05/23/18
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since."Back in the ’80s, I had a couple of songs that kind of fell on deaf ears. I said, Well, I gu...
Published: 05/23/18
Couple whose dream boat sank finally set sail on ‘new adventure’

Couple whose dream boat sank finally set sail on ‘new adventure’

The young couple whose story traveled around the world after their dream voyage ended early at the bottom of John’s Pass is ready to try again.Three months after the Lagniappe sank, Nikki Walsh, 24, and Tanner Broadwell, 26, said they set sail Tuesda...
Updated: 11 minutes ago