Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds Holiday man guilty in 2009 crash that killed two friends

Shawn Cleaver leaves the courtroom at the West Pasco Judicial Center during the lunch break in his trial Tuesday.


Shawn Cleaver leaves the courtroom at the West Pasco Judicial Center during the lunch break in his trial Tuesday.

NEW PORT RICHEY It took less than two hours for a jury to convict a Holiday man whose two friends were killed four years ago in an alcohol-related crash.

Shawn Cleaver, 39, was found guilty Friday night after a weeklong trial on two counts each of DUI manslaughter and culpable negligence. But the law allows him to be sentenced only on two counts, so prosecutors have chosen the DUIs. Sentencing is set for Dec. 23 before Circuit Judge Mary Handsel. Cleaver faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

The three friends left the Players Club on a Sunday after midnight in October 2009. According to prosecutors, Cleaver got behind the wheel of Harry "Buster" Diede's souped-up truck. The group, which also included Mark R. Whisner, had been drinking most of the day. The pickup barreled along Denton Avenue at 90 miles per hour, then swiped a guardrail and flipped four times before slamming into a concrete pole, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Diede and Whisner died. Cleaver was injured.

Cleaver told investigators he had "a lot of beer," according to prosecutor Eva Vergos, and his blood-alcohol level was measured between 0.124 and 0.125 percent, above the 0.08 threshold at which Florida law presumes a driver to be impaired.

His attorney, Dan Duryea, told jurors there were no eyewitnesses to the fatal truck crash, and that "no one knows who was really driving."

Jury finds Holiday man guilty in 2009 crash that killed two friends 11/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 7:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle