Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds Largo man guilty of murder, arson

Daniel Papaleo, 61, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11.

Daniel Papaleo, 61, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11.

LARGO — A 12-person jury found a 61-year-old man guilty Friday of brutally beating his daughter's boyfriend to death with a hammer and then setting fire to his own home to cover up the murder.

Daniel Papaleo was found guilty of second-degree murder and arson. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11.

Several hours of closing arguments in the morning laid out two theories of how Robert Greaves, 33, was killed the night of May 1, 2013.

Assistant State Attorney Tony Carlow said the evidence wove a clear narrative of what happened: Papaleo lured Greaves to his home for a staged meeting to talk about employment opportunities, beat him to death with a hammer and lit his residence in the Euclid-St. Paul neighborhood ablaze to cover up the crime.

He referenced a 45-minute recorded statement Papaleo gave police the night of the fire — a "bad book on tape," Carlow called it — in which the defendant told a tale of a "dirty, scrubby, pathetically skinny man" named Joe, or maybe Yo, who was a friend of the victim. Greaves and the friend, who arrived at the home uninvited and unannounced, got in a dispute over money, Papaleo said. That's what led to the man beating Greaves with the hammer. The man then threatened Papaleo, he said, placing three knives on the kitchen counter and saying, "We're gonna play quick-draw, cowboy."

Then the friend lit the house on fire.

But Carlow said that story contradicted the facts. Detectives found no evidence another man was at the home, and phone records revealed that Papaleo and Greaves had exchanged one text message and three phone calls in the hours before. A neighbor's testimony indicated that Papaleo's behavior was odd and he seemed out of breath at about the time of the murder, Carlow said. A red plastic gas can was melted to the floor in the Florida room where Greaves' body was recovered.

"We know Bob didn't beat him with a hammer," Carlow said, pointing at Papaleo, who sat in a tan suit. "Bob didn't pour gas, folks. Bob was dead. Yo didn't pour gas. There is no Yo."

Carlow accused Papaleo of flipping the script, referencing a letter the defendant sent his ex-wife from jail admitting to killing Greaves in self-defense.

Assistant Public Defender Dwight Wolfe agreed the "Yo story" was farfetched. Instead, he blamed Greaves' death on the victim's blood alcohol content, which was three times over the threshold for intoxication at the time of the murder.

"That's really why we're here," he said. "That's why the events occurred."

Wolfe said Papaleo must have been forced to ward off an enraged and drunken Greaves. His theory had Papaleo reneging on his job offer, leading Greaves to pour gasoline throughout the house and threaten to kill and burn the defendant. That's when Papaleo took the hammer and fatally struck Greaves 20 times.

Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub objected to Wolfe's theory several times, telling Judge Thane Covert during recess that he felt the public defender was, in a way, testifying for Papaleo without letting him cross-examine the defendant.

"Maybe there is no logical explanation," Wolfe told the jury.

Katie Mettler can be reached at or (727) 893-8913. Follow her on Twitter @kemettler.

Jury finds Largo man guilty of murder, arson 06/20/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]