Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Hillsborough jury convicts man of killing half brother, friend

TAMPA — During nearly three weeks of trial, a jury never learned why a brother killed a brother.

But a mountain of forensic evidence, including hundreds of photos of splattered blood throughout a Tampa home, convinced a jury Thursday that Derrick Cullins, 31, fatally stabbed his half brother and his brother's friend in April 2009.

Cullins denied all of it.

He said he slept through everything and never noticed the blood or a missing carpet in the morning.

Prosecutors said the two victims lost a combined four liters of blood in the rampage.

The body of Carl Walters, 21, Cullins' half brother, was found two days later in the woods in Plant City.

The body of his friend, Ryan Davis, 20, was also found in a wooded area of Plant City, but not for 10 more months.

In a motion for acquittal outside the jury's presence, the defense suggested they were victims of a sexual predator living among "the gay/lesbian/transgender community."

Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Emmett Battles said there was no evidence of that, and rejected the motion.

The most damning evidence was blood.

Davis' blood was found on Cullins' shoes. Walters' blood was found on a store receipt in Cullins' pocket.

Prosecutors also showed a receipt found for the dumping of a carpet and furniture.

They said Cullins had pulled up the carpet and thrown away couch cushions that he couldn't clean.

They said he spent five days painting over blood splatters on the walls, but missed many of them.

It took the jury four hours to convict Cullins of two counts of second-degree murder.

They carry maximum sentences of life in prison.

At the end of the trial, Robin Harris, Davis' mother, looked stunned.

"I can't speak," she said. "It's been a long wait."

Judge Battles scheduled sentencing for April 13.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]

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