Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds man guilty of murdering Clearwater couple

LARGO — Richard T. Robards, standing in a dark suit with a ponytail resting on his back, didn't show a hint of emotion as a jury found him guilty of murdering a Clearwater couple in 2006.

In the hallway outside of the courtroom, friends and family members of Frank and Linda Deluca erupted into a cheer and thanked prosecutors Fred Schaub and Christie Ellis.

"You saw justice done today," said Joseph John Deluca, brother of Frank.

"I told you, eventually justice is going to come through," Schaub said to more than a dozen family members in the hallway.

The same jury that convicted Robards on Friday will meet Tuesday to recommend whether Robards should receive the death penalty. If not, the only other possible sentence is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Robards, 42, is a former title-winning bodybuilder who once worked as a personal trainer for the Delucas. Testimony indicated Robards killed them because he wanted to steal their safe, which contained $80,000. He never got the safe opened.

After stabbing the Delucas, Robards set their Murray Avenue house on fire in an attempt to burn evidence, Schaub said. But he wasn't smart enough to open windows, which would have provided enough oxygen to keep the fire going. The house was damaged, but not destroyed.

And in that house, police found a newspaper with Robards' fingerprint. They also found DNA evidence linking Robards to the crime. And in Robards' storage unit, they found a rifle that belonged to Frank Deluca, Schaub said.

"He's not the brightest bulb in the house," Schaub said of Robards, calling him "the world's dumbest criminal."

Defense attorney Larry C. Hoffman said the state's case was circumstantial, and that the murder weapon had never been found.

Hoffman on Friday urged jurors to carefully review the evidence and pay attention to anything that gave them a "reasonable doubt" about whether Robards was the murderer.

"You're going to make a life-and-death decision if you find Mr. Robards guilty," he said.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or [email protected]

Jury finds man guilty of murdering Clearwater couple 05/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 21, 2010 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
  2. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  3. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. The upcoming Han Solo movie is called ... 'Solo'


    I hope you know what you're doing, Star Wars.

  5. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims


    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]