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Appeals court overturns conviction of Ridge Manor man in death of his father

In August 2011, Stephen Horne was convicted of murdering his father. He was sentenced to life in prison.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2011)

In August 2011, Stephen Horne was convicted of murdering his father. He was sentenced to life in prison.

BROOKSVILLE — Two and a half years ago, a prosecutor stood before a Hernando County jury and read portions of Stephen Horne's damning confession.

" 'I killed my father. I shot my father. I planned it all,' "Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino said.

Earlier during the four-day trial in August 2011, jurors saw video footage of Horne matter-of-factly describing to a detective how he shot 47-year-old Ivan Horne in the back, then shot him three more times as he lay dying outside a vacant Ridge Manor home in May 2010.

The jury convicted Horne, then 20, of first-degree murder, robbery and possession of a short-barrelled shotgun. Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Sr. levied the mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Now Horne of Ridge Manor could be headed for a new trial. And if it gets that far, jurors won't hear the confession that served as the foundation of the state's case.

Last month, the 5th District Court of Appeal reversed Horne's conviction, finding that Merritt should have granted a motion to suppress the confession.

In a 12-page opinion, the appeals court found that Hernando sheriff's detectives violated Horne's right to remain silent by continuing to interrogate him after he told both detectives, in separate interviews, that he was "done talking."

"The cops didn't follow the law," said Orlando attorney Frank Bankowitz, who filed the appeal but is no longer representing Horne. "There's a myriad of cases, as stated in the opinion, that say if you tell them you don't want to talk to them, they have to stop the questioning."

The appeals court opinion notes that Horne initially had waived his Miranda rights before starting the interview with Detective George Loydgren, then told Loydgren he was done talking and wanted to go home. Loydgren left and Detective Bryan Faulkingham, who was watching a video feed in another room, took his place.

"No sooner than Detective Faulkingham entered the room and greeted Horne, Horne stated, 'I want to go home' and 'I'm done talking,' " the opinion states. "Despite unambiguously reasserting his right to silence with Detective Faulkingham … Faulkingham continued to interrogate Horne."

Horne eventually said he lured his father from Tampa with plans to steal his prescribed oxycodone pills. Horne said a man named Angel Gonzalez drove him and Ivan Horne to Ridge Manor, where Horne shot his father. Horne and Gonzalez, 28, divided the cash and pills they found in his shorts.

Gonzalez of Holiday was convicted of murder a month before Horne's trial and sentenced to life in prison.

Horne's first pretrial status hearing is set for Tuesday in front of Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner. He has not yet been assigned an attorney.

The appeals court ruling "does have an effect on the case, but the case is still legally sufficient, and we're prepared to go to trial," Magrino said Friday.

Gonzalez did not testify during Horne's trial. Asked if he would be called in a new trial, Magrino replied: "Anything's possible."

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Appeals court overturns conviction of Ridge Manor man in death of his father 01/17/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 17, 2014 9:14pm]
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