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Hernando murder suspect pleads not guilty to two slayings

BROOKSVILLE — Triple-homicide suspect John Kalisz entered a plea of not guilty on two first-degree murder charges Tuesday in Hernando County.

Kalisz was to be arraigned in Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing's courtroom but he waived his appearance after prosecutors and his public defender, Alan Fanter, reached an agreement earlier that morning.

Kalisz, 55, could appear in court May 14 for a pretrial hearing on the murder charges and a number of probation violations.

Kalisz is accused of fatally shooting his sister, Kathryn "Kitty'' Donovan, 61, and her office manager, Deborah Tillotson, 59. He has also been indicted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings of his niece, Manessa Donovan, 18, and Amy Wilson, 33, an employee at Donovan's home business on Wilhelm Road.

Additionally, Kalisz has been charged with burglary of a dwelling with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prosecutor Pete Magrino, the chief homicide prosecutor in Hernando County, has said he intends to seek the death penalty.

Kalisz also faces a count of first-degree murder in the shooting of Dixie sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed. Kalisz allegedly killed Reed in a shootout in Cross City after the rampage in Hernando County.

He is set for arraignment Thursday in Dixie County. It wasn't immediately clear Tuesday afternoon if Kalisz had also waived his appearance for that hearing too.

Joel Anderson can be reached at or (352) 754-6120.

Hernando murder suspect pleads not guilty to two slayings 03/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 7:58pm]
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