NEW PORT RICHEY — Jurors heard John Sexton's voice at length for the first time Wednesday morning, as prosecutors played a recording of his interview with detectives investigating the brutal murder of 94-year-old Ann Parlato.
In the recording, Sexton spoke casually about Parlato. When told about her death, he expressed surprise. When asked if he had been in her kitchen the night she died, he said she was kind and made him meals when he did yard work for her, but he wasn't there that night.
When asked what should happen to the person who murdered Parlato, Sexton gave a simple answer.
"I'm usually for capital punishment," Sexton said. "For murder."
Sexton, 49, is on trial this week for first-degree murder, accused of stabbing and mutilating Parlato in her Port Richey home. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty if he is convicted.
Detective Jason Hatcher, who was the first officer to question Sexton, testified that Sexton was nervous and hid his hands when they spoke.
Sexton told Hatcher about his whereabouts the night of Sept. 22, 2010. He said he did visit Parlato, but at sundown to ask for more work. Later that night, he said, he fought with his wife, who was upset about his drinking, and he went to the Hayloft bar to have a beer.
Hatcher put on gloves and held up Sexton's blood-stained clothes for the jury to see.
DNA and crime scene analyst Lisa Thomas analyzed Sexton's T-shirt, khaki shorts and boots and confirmed the blood on them belonged to Parlato. She also analyzed DNA samples taken from Sexton's hands, cuticles and fingernails, and found traces of Parlato's DNA, she testified.
Defense attorney Dustin Anderson argued that DNA samples are subject to deterioration. "Testing can't determine how the DNA got there, correct?" he added. "And it can't determine when it got there, correct?" Thomas said yes.
Anderson also noted that none of Sexton's DNA was found on the knives at the scene, and none of Sexton's DNA was found under Parlato's fingernails.
Sexton's wife, Catherine, testified that she saw her husband around 7 p.m. on the night of the murder while he was mowing a lawn. He had beer in the truck and had been drinking, she said, so they argued. She asked him to come home then, but he did not.
"About five to 2 (a.m.) he came home," said Catherine, who locked the top lock on the door, forcing her husband to knock so she could let him in. "He didn't sleep in the bedroom that night."
Anderson asked if it was normal for Sexton to sit on the porch for awhile before coming into the house. Catherine said yes.