Tuesday, August 21, 2018
News Roundup

Jury finds Trevor Dooley guilty in manslaughter case

TAMPA

Money or lust or addictions often drive people to kill, but a manslaughter conviction handed down by a jury Monday was an unusual one: 71-year-old Trevor Dooley, the jury decided, shot and killed a young neighbor for "nothing."

Dooley, a school bus driver with no record of violence, now faces up to 30 years in prison for fatally shooting 41-year-old David James in front of James' 8-year-old daughter as they wrestled on the ground after arguing over a skateboarder.

The senselessness of the September 2010 tragedy has perplexed the community for two years and made national news.

"A man started an argument over nothing," said Assistant State Attorney Stephen Udagawa, "and killed somebody over it."

Jurors needed only about 90 minutes Monday to decide.

Dooley's wife, Patricia, married to him for more than 40 years, collapsed on a courtroom bench when she heard the verdict. They were both school bus drivers. They kept to themselves in the East Lake neighborhood of Valrico. She gardened. He played with a ham radio.

She had to take his gun out of his pocket when she laundered his jeans. Both had concealed weapons permits.

After the trial, Jamaican-born Dooley blamed racism for his conviction.

"Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today?" he asked reporters. "We wouldn't."

Dooley's attorneys never suggested at trial that his skin color played a role. James was white. The jury of two women and four men was multiracial.

In convicting Dooley of manslaughter with a weapon, the jury rejected his claim of protection under Florida's "stand your ground" law.

The jurors had no problem with the law itself. It just didn't apply, one said. "The whole silly thing was over a skateboard," said jury foreman Walter Joss, "and it just escalated."

James died in front of his daughter, Danielle, who testified last week. After the verdict, her mother, Kanina James, said the conviction wouldn't mean that much to Danielle.

"The hardest thing is she will grow up without her father."

The girl, now 10 and a fifth-grader, is under the supervision of the Florida Department of Children and Families and is being raised by a paternal aunt in Minnesota.

Danielle was shooting hoops with her father that Sunday afternoon. Dooley came from his home across the street to complain about a 14-year-old skateboarder who had gotten James' permission to use the other side of the court.

An argument between Dooley and James got the attention of a married couple, Michael and Michelle Whitt, who were practicing serves on the adjacent tennis court.

The bizarre nature of the dispute, they said, caused them to stop and watch. It quickly took a lethal turn.

They testified last week they saw Dooley flip up his T-shirt, revealing a gun in his waistband, as he cursed James. They said Dooley then turned and headed home, but James spun him around and tried to grab the gun.

The skateboarder, Spencer Arthur, also watched, stunned. He didn't see Dooley flash a gun but said he saw him pull out the weapon as he spun around.

Danielle could hardly remember anything. She clutched a toy bunny named Monica as she testified. She has been in counseling for two years. She said she only remembered Dooley trying to go home.

"The only consistency in their testimony," defense attorney Ronald Tulin said to the jury, "was that Mr. Dooley walked away. How can you convict him of manslaughter if he's trying to walk away?"

Dooley, who is 5-feet-7 and weighs 160 pounds, told jurors he had to struggle with a man 28 years younger who was 6-1 and 240 pounds. He said he pulled out the gun only after James grabbed him by the throat and began yanking him to the ground. "I had no other choice,'' he said.

"It just didn't hold water with what the other witnesses said," said Joss, 57, of Tampa.

Though the witnesses offered differing testimonies, those accounts were more consistent with one another than Dooley's, he said. And those witnesses had no motivations other than to tell the truth, he said.

"They really had nothing to gain," Joss said. "They just seemed honest to me. It didn't match exactly 100 percent but, again, that's understandable. Three different people can see something three different ways."

Jurors didn't need a lot of time to reach a verdict, he said, because they were of one mind that the witnesses provided the most accurate testimony. He said there was no dissent.

Besides manslaughter, Dooley was convicted of improper exhibition of a weapon and open carrying of a firearm, both misdemeanors. He was allowed to remain free on bail until his sentencing by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody on Jan. 10.

Times staff writer Jodie Tillman, news researcher Natalie Watson and Bay News 9 contributed to this report. John Barry can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]

 
Comments
The Daystarter: Measles and parents who donít vaccinate; immigration hardliner DeSantisí great-great-grandmother nearly barred; preseason helps mend Bucs fansí souls

The Daystarter: Measles and parents who donít vaccinate; immigration hardliner DeSantisí great-great-grandmother nearly barred; preseason helps mend Bucs fansí souls

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Watch out for more thunderstorms in the evening hours, but itíll dry up by sunset, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will be in the low 90s.ē As you head out for your m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Standoff ends in Lutz after man stabs woman several times

Standoff ends in Lutz after man stabs woman several times

LUTZ ó A man stabbed a woman multiple times before barricading himself in a Lutz home early Tuesday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriffís Office.The standoff ended about three hours later with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Draining the swamp can be dangerous in Florida

Romano: Draining the swamp can be dangerous in Florida

Drain the swamp. Thatís the rallying cry, right?More term limits, fewer career politicians. A ruling class of regular folks. Thereís just one small problem. The average Floridian is more dangerous than whatever youíll run into in a swamp. Other place...
Published: 08/21/18
Leader of group behind transportation petition drive had his signature thrown out

Leader of group behind transportation petition drive had his signature thrown out

TAMPA ó Tyler Hudson has become the face of the citizens group behind the Hillsborough County sales tax transportation initiative.The Tampa Heights attorney took the lead at news conferences and delivered boxes of signatures for the groupís petition ...
Published: 08/21/18
Largo looks for ways to cut use of plastics, without a ban

Largo looks for ways to cut use of plastics, without a ban

LARGO ó Commissioners made a pledge recently to transition city operations to 100 percent clean energy by 2035, but Jamie Robinson had something a little more immediate in mind.So, the commissioner asked his peers on the dais if they thought the time...
Published: 08/21/18

Tuesdayís letters: Sculpture will be safe for the birds

Sculpture raises bird safety fears | Aug. 14Sculpture will be safe for the birdsItís gratifying and exciting to be moving ahead with the design of an outdoor sculpture for the Pier District in St. Petersburg. I want to thank the City Council, cit...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays defeat Royals thanks to pitching and replay

Rays defeat Royals thanks to pitching and replay

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays defeated the Royals 1-0 on Monday night — Tampa Bay's major-league-leading 51st one-run game — is not surprising. What is a bit unusual is how they did it.With two outs and runners on first and third i...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays journal: Seminoleís Brett Phillips returns home

Rays journal: Seminoleís Brett Phillips returns home

ST. PETERSBURG — Brett Phillips played at Tropicana Field in 2012 when he was a senior at Seminole High and a member of Team Pinellas in the annual Hillsborough vs. Pinellas All-Star Game. He was just weeks away from being picked in the sixth r...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Who says preseason doesnít count for Bucs?

Who says preseason doesnít count for Bucs?

TAMPA — Monday was a beautiful day out at One Buc Place.Sunny. Blue skies. Hot, but not a thousand degrees like it has been in recent weeks around here.The Bucs were finally back home after spending most of the past week in Nashville. And despi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rodney Pageís takeaways from Mondayís Rays-Royals game

Rodney Pageís takeaways from Mondayís Rays-Royals game

Replay played a big role in the game. The Rays got their run in the second when an out call at first was overturned. Then in the fourth, Kevin Kiermaier was picked off second with no outs after a replay showed his hand came off the base.Ryan Yarbroug...
Updated: 7 hours ago