Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Defendant in St. Petersburg 'homeless' murders pleads guilty

LARGO — Terror gripped the homeless community in early 2007 when two men were murdered on the streets of St. Petersburg on the same night.

It took police three weeks to arrest two young men on murder charges.

On Wednesday, one of those men, Dorion Dillard, 22, pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

His alleged accomplice, Cordaro Hardin, 21, is scheduled for trial this summer.

It is not clear if Dillard will testify in that trial.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Hardin — as they were against Dillard before he pleaded guilty.

During the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Dillard apologized to the families of David Heath, 53, and Jeff Shultz, 43. He could not, however, provide the families an explanation for why he killed the men.

"I just want to say, I'd like to express my deepest condolences," said a downcast Dillard, dressed in blue jail scrubs over white long underwear.

"I wish there was something I could tell you," he said. "I'm sorry to each and every one of you."

As his mother watched tearfully from a courtroom bench, Dillard apologized to his own family, as well.

Some family members of the murdered men said they forgave Dillard.

"David Heath's little brother forgives you," said George Castrinos, who traveled from California for the hearing.

Some said they could not.

"I can't forgive you, but I hope you will ask God for forgiveness because I know he will forgive you,'' Heath's mother, June Bartke, said.

Others said they might someday forgive.

"God teaches us as Christians to forgive others who do harmful things to us. But I'm sorry, at this moment I can't forgive you," said Schultz's mother, Barbara Hartz of Fort Myers. "Maybe someday down the road, I don't know. I hope you suffer every day for the rest of your life."

About a half-dozen of Heath's relatives said they wanted the option of hearing more from Hardin while he is in prison. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley took the rare step of modifying the standard no-contact order that normally prevents a murderer from contacting victims' families.

"I don't know why you killed him, but you took away somebody very, very special in our family," Heath's sister Barbara Jones said. "I'd like to communicate with you down the road because I guess I need that for me to be able to forgive you someday."

The murders occurred the night of Jan. 17, 2007, in the 3500 block of Sixth Avenue N and 4300 block of Seventh Avenue N.

Authorities described both victims as transients, though Heath's family said Wednesday that he was not homeless at the time of his death.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232.

Defendant in St. Petersburg 'homeless' murders pleads guilty 02/25/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 10:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.