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Homeless man charged with murder in strangling death of Brooksville real estate agent

BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County grand jury indicted a 35-year-old homeless man Tuesday in the slaying of a prominent Brooksville real estate agent.

The indictment charges Monty Gregg Albright with first-degree murder, kidnapping and fraudulent use of a credit card, said Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino.

Investigators said Albright strangled Steven Van Slyke, 58, in his home on Cherry Street and then went on a drug-fueled spending spree with the victim's bank card. Van Slyke's body was discovered Jan. 20 by his business partner.

Van Slyke was a past president of the Hernando County Association of Realtors and managed a home appraisal service, Van Slyke & Jessop Appraisers.

Van Slyke apparently had hired Albright to do odd jobs at his home, as he had done with other transients.

Authorities believe Albright, who was on court-ordered supervision at the time, entered the home Jan. 19, overpowered Van Slyke and tied him to a chair. He obtained the code to Van Slyke's ATM card and withdrew upwards of $5,000.

Albright bought and sold items, such as jewelry, to get more cash to buy crack cocaine.

The grand jury — a confidential panel of 15 to 21 jurors — heard this account and reviewed evidence before returning its decision.

It takes at least 12 grand jurors to reach an affirmative indictment, which is necessary for first-degree murder charges in Florida. The decision was reached about 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Magrino, the chief homicide prosecutor in Hernando County, said he could not comment on the testimony or evidence because grand jury proceedings are secret.

The murder charge is a capital felony. Magrino said he is still weighing whether to request the death penalty.

"At this juncture, a decision in that regard has not been made," he said.

Assistant Public Defender Alan Fanter, representing Albright, was not available for comment. Albright, arrested Jan. 21, remains in the Hernando County Jail.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Homeless man charged with murder in strangling death of Brooksville real estate agent 02/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:44pm]
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