Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Hudson man acquitted of rape, kidnapping charges

NEW PORT RICHEY — A jury of two women and four men deliberated for an hour Thursday before acquitting Eric Richards of Hudson of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

The jurors didn't know he'd previously been accused of a similar crime.

The trial lasted four days and much of the state's case relied on the testimony of the victim, an admitted prostitute and drug addict. The woman, who is not being named due to the nature of the allegations, told of a night in November of 2011 when Richards picked her up and took her to his home. He tied her up, raped and beat her, she testified. She ran nude to a nearby house after he fell asleep.

Richards, 42, took the stand in his defense. After the verdict, he said that decision may have tipped the scales in his favor.

"I believe that you can't win unless you go out there," he said. "You only win if you stand up for yourself."

The decision, he said, was a culmination of what he knew all along. He said he cooperated with authorities the whole time and he knew the case against him was weak.

One female juror in the trial said there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict Richards and put him away for the rest of his life.

"In my heart, did he do something to that girl? Absolutely," said the woman, who declined to give her full name. "To watch him walk out of there makes me sick to my stomach."

No DNA evidence was found linking Richards to the crime, and his attorney said the relationship between the two was a friendly one.

Richards was previously arrested on charges of battery in December of 2008. According to an arrest report, two Pasco sheriff's deputies in an unmarked car witnessed Richards and a woman arguing. He pushed her, the report said, and punched her in the face. She fell to the ground.

After his arrest, the report said, Richards told police the woman was walking down U.S. 19, and he picked her up. He said he punched her because she "continuously insulted him during the argument."

He was appointed a public defender and the case went to trial. A jury found him not guilty on Sept. 22, 2009.

"Justice was served," his mother, Eunice Tatum said after Thursday's verdict. "He has been exonerated."

Comments
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Hot and humid on summer’s eve across Tampa Bay, with rain chances increasing

Forecast: Hot and humid on summer’s eve across Tampa Bay, with rain chances increasing

Wednesday will be the longest day of the year, literally, as the day before the official start of summer yields the most amount of sunshine.Tampa Bay has already seen lots of sunshine, heat and humidity this year, and while that sunshine may be obscu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters

Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three "tender age" shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.Lawyers and medi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
SB traffic on I-275 slowed in St. Petersburg after car jumps median

SB traffic on I-275 slowed in St. Petersburg after car jumps median

ST. PETERSBURG — A car that is straddling the center concrete barrier is causing a visual slowdown Wednesday morning on Interstate 275.The incident occurred sometime around 7:30 a.m.The passenger side of the car can be seen hanging along the median o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not the way to resol...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Republican response to immigration firestorm; don’t let Yuengling name scare you; Hedman flattered, but unfulfilled

The Daystarter: Republican response to immigration firestorm; don’t let Yuengling name scare you; Hedman flattered, but unfulfilled

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• There’s no more denying it: summer is here. The forecast calls for highs near 90 degrees for the foreseeable future, coupled with afternoon showers, according to 10Weather WTSP.• As y...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

For the second year in a row, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is asking state regulators to approve hefty rate hikes because of an abundance of non-weather claims that end up in court. If approved, the average rates for homeowners covered by Citize...
Updated: 3 hours ago