Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury wants death for Phillup Partin, girl's killer

Phillup Alan Partin sits in the courtroom Wednesday, listening to his attorneys Bjorn Brunvand, left, and William Bennett.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Phillup Alan Partin sits in the courtroom Wednesday, listening to his attorneys Bjorn Brunvand, left, and William Bennett.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Robert Ramsdell remembers that day five years ago when he first saw his stepdaughter's killer in a Pasco courtroom.

A defiant Phillup Alan Partin showed off the tattoo across his shoulders, the one he got during his year on the run from law enforcement:

"Live free or die."

Words to live by, the stepfather said.

"He's not going to live forever," Mr. Ramsdell said Wednesday. "He may as well kill himself now."

That's because a jury decided on Wednesday that the state of Florida should take Partin's life for taking 16-year-old Joshan Ashbrook's life in 2002.

It took the jury of eight men and four women three hours on Tuesday to convict Partin of first-degree murder. It took them two hours on Wednesday to vote 9-3 in favor of the death penalty instead of life in prison.

Partin, 42, reacted as he has throughout his two-week trial: with a cold, blank stare and an air of hostile indifference.

In fact, the trial revealed that the only thing Partin seems to care about in this world is his 12-year-old daughter, Patrisha.

Is Partin both a cold killer and a caring father?

"How can he love his little girl," said the victim's mother, Tara Lynn Ramsdell, "and not care what he did to mine?"

The trial, or guilt phase, took seven days. Wednesday's penalty phase was brief by comparison.

The state's lone witness was a Miami-Dade police lieutenant who testified about Partin's first murder two decades ago, when he snapped the neck of a Miami man. The lieutenant said Partin hustled at gay bars then, which is how he met that victim.

In 1987, Partin was sentenced to 17 years in prison for second-degree murder. But he was released in 1995.

Joshan (pronounced Yo-shan) also had her neck broken, a medical examiner testified, separating her head from her spine. Her throat was also cut open.

No one testified on Partin's behalf. No family members have even come to court. Instead, the defense played snippets of videotaped depositions on his behalf.

They played just a few seconds of a tape of Partin's daughter, who testified for the state that she saw the victim alive with her father.

In the tape, defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand showed the girl a hand sign that she and her father used to share.

"Is that what the two of you used to say 'I love you' to each other?" the lawyer asked.

"Yes," the girl said.

• • •

The jury's vote for the death penalty is a recommendation. State law says the judge must give it "great weight."

In the end, it will be Circuit Judge William Webb's decision alone. Partin's lawyers will try to persuade the judge to override the jury's recommendation at a May 16 hearing.

Partin doesn't appear to like the judge. He's insulted Webb in jailhouse letters and on Wednesday directed profanities at him.

The judge will sentence Partin on June 20.

• • •

The Ramsdells have eight children, 17 grandchildren and one more on the way. Those children have questions their grandparents cannot answer.

"We have grandchildren who want to know why the bad guy killed Auntie Yo-Yo," Tara Ramsdell said, "and what do you say to them? He's not going to say anything to us. I want him to tell me why."

The state said the motive for Joshan's murder is a mystery that may never be solved.

The mother of Partin's daughter said she is conflicted about the death penalty. "How's his daughter going to feel," she said, "not being able to see her father again?"

Given Partin's feelings about being living free, the mother said, she wonders if a worse punishment would be to let him live out his days behind bars.

"Sometimes I think so," Mrs. Ramsdell said. "But I'm Joshan's mother. I say kill him."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Jury wants death for Phillup Partin, girl's killer 03/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2008 5:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  2. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  3. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  4. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  5. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]