BROOKSVILLE — His eyes locked on the six jurors before him, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino held up two photos and made a somber comparison Wednesday in Hernando Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner's courtroom.
"Ivan Horne in life," Magrino remarked, holding up the first photo. "Ivan Horne in death," he said, as he showed the second picture, taken the morning of May, 4, 2010, when authorities discovered Horne's body in a yard in Ridge Manor, in eastern Hernando County.
Before them, Magrino told the jurors, sat the man responsible for shooting and killing 47-year-old Ivan Horne: Stephen Horne, 23, of Ridge Manor, who was being retried in the murder and armed robbery of his father.
It took the six-member panel about 2 ½ hours to find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery and possession of a short-barreled shotgun. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 21.
Magrino's task of again proving Stephen Horne's guilt came by way of a ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal, which reversed the first conviction after finding that Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Sr., who presided over the initial trial, failed to suppress Horne's confession after Horne told detectives at one point during an interview that he was "done talking."
Forced to forgo using a video of the confession, which served as the foundation of the state's first case, Magrino relied on witness testimony and crucial evidence that proved Horne had the motive, the means and the opportunity to commit the murder, using a sawed-off shotgun to shoot Ivan Horne once in the back and twice in the front before robbing him of a stash of oxycodone pills and about $640 in cash.
Magrino implored the jury to use "good old common sense" as he tied evidence and witness testimony to the defendant, including one of Horne's fingerprints found on an ammunition box, three witnesses who saw the defendant in possession of the 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun used in the murder and a trail of cellphone signals that linked the defendant and the victim to the journey to Hernando County that began when Stephen Horne and an accomplice picked up Ivan Horne from his home in Tampa.
Although Magrino alluded to the possibility of calling to the stand Horne's co-conspirator, Angel Gonzalez, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the killing, he never did.
Likewise, Horne never took the stand in his own defense.
Instead, his attorney, J. Edwin Mills, emphatically dismissed Magrino's assertions as "paper thin," telling jurors, "There is no evidence that Stephen Horne killed his father."
After the reading of the verdict, Horne turned and shook his head silently as members of his family hugged and cried.
Contact Logan Neill at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.