Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Trial in four Pasco slayings begins with harrowing 911 call describing first attack

NEW PORT RICHEY — Megan Brown has been dead three years, but on Friday, her desperate voice filled a courtroom, her moaning and sobs erupting from a 911 audio recording.

"My son’s dad put a knife to my throat, and he cut my hand," she reported on Aug. 28, 2014.

Adam Matos had threatened to kill her, she reported.

Later that day, he did just that, while also killing Brown’s Hudson parents and her new boyfriend, prosecutors told a jury during opening statements in Matos’ murder trial.

After four days of jury selection, the state began its case against Matos, who is accused of killing Megan, Margaret and Gregory Brown and boyfriend Nick Leonard inside a home at 7719 Hatteras Drive.

The harrowing 911 recording captures Brown telling a sheriff’s deputy that Matos attacked her with a knife after she returned from a night out with friends. The first attack happened in front of their 4-year-old son.

She did not live to describe what happened next.

Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia told the jury that Matos continuously called Megan Brown throughout the day.

Then, about 3 p.m., the calls stopped.

Margaret Brown, who worked at a Wawa convenience store, left for work at about the same time. She finished her shift about 11 p.m., the last any of the four victims was seen alive.

People walking in the neighborhood that night reported hearing gunshots.

In the days that followed, Matos listed the family TV, and several dogs that Margaret Brown owned, for sale on Craigslist, Sarabia said. He also ordered pizza twice and mingled with neighbors.

Visitors to the home reported a foul smell, Sarabia said.

Several days later, worried family members requested a welfare check.

Less than a mile from the home, a deputy found the four bodies stacked near a berm that blocked a sparsely traveled road.

An examination showed they died from gunshot wounds and injuries "consistent with a hammer," Sarabia said.

Matos, who lived with them, was missing from the home, as was his 4-year-old son, Ismael "Tristan" Santisteban.

Police later arrested Matos in Tampa with the boy.

Linda Thomas, stepmother to Margaret Brown, was among the first witnesses who testified Friday.

At times breaking into tears, she explained that the family had moved from their farm in central Pennsylvania in July 2014 because they wanted to be closer to her and her husband in Key West.

Thomas met Matos when she came to Hudson to help the family move into their new home. She said she did not know that he was Tristan’s father.

During the visit, Thomas said Matos and Megan Brown were tense. She described their relationship as "volatile." Thomas found Matos to be polite, but she was afraid of him, she said.

She described Margaret Brown’s final Facebook posts, which chronicled a visit to St. Pete Beach. On Aug. 29, 2014, Thomas said she sent an email to her stepdaughter. She did not receive a response.

Over the next few days, Thomas tried to reach her stepdaughter several more times. Again, there was no response.

On Sept. 4, 2014, Thomas called the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to check on the family.

Deputy Miguel Silva arrived at the residence and found no one home. As he walked the property, he passed a broken garage window and smelled something decomposing, he testified. Later, the deputy found a spent bullet in the driveway and a bullet hole in an outside wall. Silva called for backup. With another deputy, they entered the home and searched.

In the garage was a van with dried blood inside. The rest of the home was empty.

As the investigation began, a Pasco County sheriff’s dive team searched a canal that ran behind the home. One diver, Deputy Keith Bennett, told the jury that as soon as he entered the water, his feet touched a submerged rifle. It was one of several guns the team found. They also retrieved two crossbows and a hammer.

If the jury convicts him, Matos faces the death penalty. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Testimony will resume Monday.

Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] Follow @TimesDan.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with s...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz at the top of this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the all-time record of six in the first round, set in 1983 with a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

Happy Earth Day, Florida!In the spirit of the holiday that recognizes our planet’s clean air, water and land, here are 11 stories the Tampa Bay Times has published about how climate change affects the Sunshine State.1. The Florida keys have to elevat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

ST. PETERSBURG — A man punched a 13-year-old girl inside a RaceTrac convenience store on Saturday, knocking her unconscious as her parent pumped gas outside, Pinellas deputies reported.Kolbe Wayne Smith, 27 and of St. Petersburg, now faces charges of...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of Kent...
Updated: 3 hours ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 9 hours ago