Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Driver on trial in fatal 2007 wrong-way collision in St. Petersburg

LARGO — Charles Hicks drove north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg so fast that when he collided with another car, "the only way to describe it is catastrophic," a prosecutor said.

It also was deadly.

The September 2007 crash killed Steven Cornell, a St. Petersburg College student who also had been a popular figure at Seminole High.

More than a dozen family members and friends came to court Monday for the trial of Hicks, 34, who has been charged with second-degree murder, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

Cornell's mother, Jeanie, said she is hoping for justice, and, "I just hope to get the most punishment that's legally possible." Even so, she said, "that's not going to bring Steven back."

Some of Cornell's high school classmates also came, thinking of a friend who was "always about making everyone happy," said Steven Hano, 23. "He seemed invincible to us, to his friends," said Chris Jennings, also 23.

Hicks' attorney, Mark Thellman, said the accident was tragic, but told jurors "you will not hear any proof that it was Mr. Hicks who committed these crimes."

Although the prosecution said Hicks drove a greenish-blue car with one passenger, Thellman said there were indications that there were three people in the car. He said Hicks was not in the driver's seat.

But Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said Hicks was driving recklessly through the city, even veering toward police officers.

He sped so fast down 18th Avenue S that an officer called it in to dispatch, both to warn other officers, and to see if someone could stop him, the officer testified.

To get away, Hicks went up a southbound exit ramp from I-275 and began driving north on the southbound lanes, Rosenwasser said. Police kept up with him by driving up the northbound lanes of the interstate.

Cornell was riding with his sister Mary Cornell, traveling south on I-275, when the cars collided, killing Cornell.

The trial resumes today.

Driver on trial in fatal 2007 wrong-way collision in St. Petersburg 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation

    Politics

    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  2. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead

    Crime

    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  3. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.