Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dade City man who once beat a murder charge sentenced to 20 years in another killing

Anthony Harris, 28, escaped a life sentence for armed robbery after he won an appeal.

Anthony Harris, 28, escaped a life sentence for armed robbery after he won an appeal.

DADE CITY — A Dade City man who beat a murder rap about five years ago and who escaped a life term for a robbery because of an error during his trial will spend the next 20 years in prison.

Anthony James Harris, 28, was supposed to have spent the rest of his life in prison for a 2007 armed robbery at a Zephyrhills park that left two men hospitalized. But prosecutors changed the charge twice, the last time to an attempted robbery with a firearm.

The evidence indicated the robbery had been completed, and the jury found Harris guilty of armed robbery. Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa had no choice but to put him away for life because of Harris' prior crimes and prison time.

Harris appealed, saying he had been convicted and punished for a crime he was not accused of committing. The 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed and overturned the conviction.

But Harris' troubles continued. In 2009, he was accused of gunning down a Dade City drug dealer. Prosecutors said Harris went into Cleo Stinyard's home, which had stockpiles of cocaine and cash, on June 12, 2009, and shot him in the chest and head. But a jury found him not guilty — an almost unheard-of outcome in first-degree murder cases.

Most of the witnesses on both sides had criminal records, with one saying he saw Harris carry out the murder and another saying Harris was being framed for working as a drug informer for the feds.

However, four months later Harris was charged with yet another murder: the 2007 fatal shooting of 24-year-old Sean Alexander Larry Spaights outside a Dade City bar.

The original charge was first-degree murder, but prosecutors reduced it to second-degree murder in exchange for a guilty plea, which Harris made on Thursday. Siracusa gave him 20 years as part of the deal, and threw in 20 years for the robbery. Harris will be allowed to serve both sentences concurrently.

In addition to his court appearances for his own arrests, Harris testified for the prosecution in the trial of Luc Pierre-Charles, who was accused along with Tyree Jenkins of shooting two Wesley Chapel teens execution style on a dark dirt road in Trilby in 2006. Pierre-Charles was convicted but his case was also overturned on appeal.

Dade City man who once beat a murder charge sentenced to 20 years in another killing 01/10/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Taco and Beer Fiesta set for St. Pete, followed by the Ooze and Booze Fest

    Food & Dining

    The Gulf to Bay Food Truck association recently announced a trio of events for mobile comfort food lovers.

    The big a-- nachos are tortilla chips topped with pulled pork, chili, cheese sauce, salsa, chopped jalenpenos, feta cheese and cilantro sour cream from Maggie on the Move. [Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association]
  3. After monument vote, Confederate activist named to Hillsborough County diversity council


    TAMPA — Moments after Hillsborough County commissioners made uncertain a previous decision to move Tampa's Confederate monument, they voted to put the area's most vocal advocate of Confederate causes on a citizen committee to promote diversity. 

    David McCallister won a spot on Hillsborough County's Diversity Advisory Council on Wednesday.
  4. Officials search for prisoner who escaped from Hernando County landfill


    BROOKSVILLE — An inmate has escaped from a Hernando County landfill where he and two other inmates were assigned to a work detail, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.

    Joshua Holmes, 35, escaped while working at a Hernando landfill. [Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Mayor of historic African-American city endorses Chris King for governor


    The mayor of Eatonville, a town near Orlando that was incorporated in 1887 as one of America's first all-black cities, today endorsed Winter Park businessman Chris King for governor. Mayor Eddie Cole said he has seen King's character first hand:

    Eddie Cole