Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury convicts Pasco man in 2008 strip club shooting

NEW PORT RICHEY — Debra Adams had waited more than three years to address the man who killed her daughter.

"Our family is forever broken," she had written.

But when the moment came Friday morning, after a Pasco County jury had convicted Bryan Gregory Heater of the 2008 shooting that killed Kellie Zorka, Adams couldn't speak without crying. She held a photo of Zorka and Zorka's son, Donavon, who was 17 months old when his mother was killed. She handed her written statement to a victim's advocate, who read it for her.

"I will live with this pain and sorrow for the rest of my life," Adams, 57, had written.

The jury deliberated about four hours Thursday night and Friday morning before finding Heater, 31, guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder.

He was sentenced to life in prison on the murder charge, followed by a pair of life sentences for the attempted murder counts.

The case stems from a fight that broke out in the wee hours of Feb. 24, 2008, as closing time sent people spilling into the parking lot of Diamonds Gentlemen's Club on State Road 54. Witnesses testified that the brawl was all punching and kicking until Heater pulled out an Uzi-style gun from his car and began firing.

One bullet zinged by a bouncer's ear, deafening him for hours. Another bullet hit the arm of Anthony Monti. Zorka, Monti's friend, was shot in the head.

She lingered in a coma for a few days before dying. Images of Zorka in the hospital are constantly in Adams' mind.

"Seeing her die in front of me," Adams recalled in an interview Friday. Her voice went faint. "There was nothing I could do to help her, except pray and scream, 'Do not leave me! You promised you would never leave your mama!' "

Adams thinks of such things every day. She had to quit her job working at an assisted living facility because she couldn't function.

"Every day is a challenge," she said. "It changes your life forever."

Zorka, 27, of Spring Hill had been out that night celebrating her new life as a mom and certified nurse's aide. She stopped by Diamonds, where she had once worked, to show old friends some new pictures of her son, whom she adored. She had been living with her mother and was slated to begin a new job that Tuesday.

"Nothing against you and Pops," Zorka told her mother, "but I'm not going to need anybody to make a good life for my son. I'll be able to do it myself."

"Yes, you will, Kel," her mother told her. "Yes, you will."

Zorka was elated.

"She was lit up. Completely lit up," Adams said. "You could see the happiness in her eyes."

As Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced Heater to prison Friday morning, he told Heater that he ruined two lives that night in the parking lot: Zorka's and his own.

For a long time, Adams had wanted the death penalty. But she couldn't see taking another child away from a family.

"I couldn't find it in my heart to let another parent or loved one go through the hell this family has been through," Adams said.

She said she is content with the verdict. She hopes that now she and her family might find some closure. They still feel raw and in shock, as though the murder happened weeks ago, not years ago.

She said Donavon, for many months, screamed at night for his mother. Adams would hold him and rock him and tell him it was okay. He still asks about his mother. A few weeks ago, he said to Adams, "I don't have a mommy anymore."

Adams plans to explain to him the details of what happened when he's older.

"He'll see that his mommy got justice," Adams said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Jury convicts Pasco man in 2008 strip club shooting 05/20/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  2. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit

    World

    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Preserve wild Florida before it's too late

    Editorials

    The last dairy farm in Hillsborough County has milked its final cow, the pastures sold to developers who will build 1,000 new homes. The remnants of the last commercial citrus grove in Pinellas County, where the Sunshine State's famed industry began in the 19th century, were sold last year to make room for 136 homes. …

    As dairy farms and citrus groves disappear, much more needs to be done to avoid paving over Florida’s wild spaces.