Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds murder defendant guilty after 90 minute of deliberations in Tampa

TAMPA — Murder defendants don't often testify on their own behalf. It's a risk. They can tell their own story to a jury, but they subject themselves to cross examination by prosecutors.

Leonel Marquetti, 51, took that risk Thursday. He took the stand in Hillsborough County Circuit Court to defend himself against a charge of first-degree murder. He was accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend's handyman on March 25, 2010, in Plant City.

The gamble did not pay off.

A jury took about 90 minutes to convict him of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Hurlbutt, 41. Marquetti shot Hurlbutt four times, once as he faced him and three times as his victim lay facedown. Jurors also found Marquetti guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm and false imprisonment.

This was after Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon hammered away at him.

"This wasn't a blind rage, was it?"

"You shot four times and hit him every single time, didn't you?"

"You wanted him dead, correct?"

"He was at your mercy, wasn't he?"

Marquetti said he could remember very little. Everything happened in a blur.

"I didn't go there to kill Michael," he said.

Finally, Harmon asked Marquetti, "Were you crying when you pumped 9mm rounds into him?"

Marquetti answered, "It was something that shouldn't have happened. But it did."

Prosecutors portrayed Marquetti as a hoarder who hated to throw anything away. They said he couldn't bear losing his girlfriend, a German dog breeder named Siglinde Sperber, who ended their 10-year relationship and asked him to move out of their Plant City home.

Prosecutors said he suspected Hurlbutt was involved with Sperber. She said he was only her repairman and a friend who helped her with her dogs.

A 911 call that Marquetti made after he shot Hurlbutt was replayed for the jury. Marquetti told a dispatcher he got angry after seeing Hurlbutt walk out of his house with his girlfriend.

Hurlbutt's parents and family sat through the trial, as did Marquetti's son, Corey, and the defendant's brother, Al. Corey Marquetti said he grew up in California without his father. But he said he wanted to hear the case first-hand. Both Marquetti's son and brother said they could only apologize for his crimes.

Marquetti faces a life sentence without parole. Circuit Judge Emmett Battles will sentence him on May 27.

John Barry can be reached at (813) 226- 3383 or jbarry@sptimes.com.

Jury finds murder defendant guilty after 90 minute of deliberations in Tampa 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A total of 367 men and women reside on death row at Florida State Prison and Union Correctional Institution, down from 383 at the start of this year. [AP photo (1989)]
  2. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, right, host MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at NBC Studios in New York on April 14, 2010. President Donald Trump on Thursday assailed Brzezinski in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media.
  3. Goliath grouper are anything but gentle giants for Florida fishermen

    Wildlife

    Goliath, the biblical giant, wasn't known for bothering fishermen. But the gigantic fish named after him — they can weigh up to 800-pounds — is notorious for exactly that.

    Biologists take samples from a goliath grouper that was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The fish was released back into the gulf. Florida fishermen have petitioned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow them to catch the up to 800-pound fish for a limited time. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  4. Volkov hopes to prove his surprise selection right

    Blogs

    RW Alexander Volkov was not a particularly talked-about player in the lead up to the NHL entry draft.

  5. A stunt turns deadly for a couple seeking YouTube fame (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks: Ruiz climbing onto a tenuous tree branch and falling a short distance, or Perez feeding him a doughnut covered in baby powder …

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks. On June 26, 2017, authorities say, Perez, 19, shot at a thick book that Ruiz, 22, was holding, apparently believing that the bullet would not make it through the volume. The bullet entered Ruiz's chest and he died at the scene. [Photo from video]