Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Kalisz's other crimes come to fore in penalty phase of Hernando murder trial

BROOKSVILLE — A jury took just 96 minutes to convict John Kalisz of murder, but in many ways the real fight over his fate begins today.

The defense team will argue that their client deserves life in prison; prosecutor Pete Magrino will seek the death penalty.

On Jan. 14, 2010, Kalisz killed his sister, Kathryn "Kitty" Donovan, and her office manager, Deborah Tillotson, in Donovan's home on Wilhelm Road, west of Brooksville. He also shot his niece, Manessa Donovan, and Amy Green, an employee at Kitty Donovan's home-based business.

Kalisz's public defenders didn't call a single person to the stand during the trial. But in the coming days they're likely to pack the courtroom with witnesses, including two doctors, to speak on the defendant's behalf.

The defense's argument, at least in part, may center on Kalisz's alcoholism.

In the months before the crime, Kalisz claimed to have been sober for 20 years, but he drank scotch the night before the murders. A toxicology report indicated that, in the hours after the crime, his blood-alcohol level just exceeded 0.08.

During much of last week's jury selection, public defender Alan Fanter focused his questions on alcoholism. He asked jurors for their opinions about Alcoholics Anonymous, if they knew any alcoholics and if they believed alcoholism was curable.

Jurors, however, will also hear for the first time the full breadth of Kalisz's criminal past, including his murder of Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed, who was shot trying to arrest him later that day in Cross City.

Magrino may also emphasize that Manessa Donovan was two months pregnant when Kalisz shot her. She later lost the fetus.

Both she and Green offered compelling, emotional testimony last week as they described, in detail, the horror of the attack. It's unclear if either woman will testify again.

Friends of Kitty Donovan, well-known in the community and throughout the country, may also speak. She had earned an international reputation as an innovator in the field of color analysis, teaching people how to find the colors that best suited their bodies and, she believed, their souls. She ran the company out of her house.

Tillotson's family has been in attendance since the trial's start and will also have the chance to address jurors.

During the proceedings, attorneys on both sides vaguely referenced the motivation behind the rampage, but that will likely take a much more prominent role in the penalty phase.

Months before the killings, the 57-year-old Kalisz exposed himself and masturbated in front of Manessa, then 17, in his sister's home. He was also accused of giving her nude photos and threatening the girl's boyfriend with a knife.

After accepting a deal, he was convicted in October 2009 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He got six years of probation.

Kalisz's defense in that case cost him the inheritance he had received from his recently deceased mother. The probation also prevented the former roofer from returning to Colorado to retrieve his tools.

As the new year arrived, Kalisz's life began to unravel. The sexual accusations, he told friends, ruined him. He hated his sister for it.

Then, in early January 2010, his mobile home burned down when he tried to change propane tanks.

In his closing arguments Monday, Fanter told jurors Kalisz quit thinking in that moment and was consumed by rage. He blamed his sister and her family for his life's collapse.

Days later, he walked into Donovan's home, and the killing began.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.

Comments
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background. A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangr...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Updated: 4 hours ago
St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

ST. PETERSBURG — Residents can expect their water and sanitation bills to increase between $7 and $11 starting in October.That represents an average of a 7-percent increase. Customers who use an average of 4,000 gallons a month, including reclaimed w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The Daystarter: South Florida rapper gunned down; murals adorn reclaimed water tanks; the album we’ve all been waiting for

The Daystarter: South Florida rapper gunned down; murals adorn reclaimed water tanks; the album we’ve all been waiting for

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• It’s here: summer. Highs this week will all be in the 90s, with feels-like temperatures near 100 degrees, according to 10Weather WTSP.• As you head out for your morning commute, check...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay

Romano: A Tampa Bay "superstar’’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Published: 06/19/18
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

HOUSTON — Well before the idea of using a reliever to open games, as the Rays did against the Astros Monday for the 12th time, and then bringing in a starter was even a gleam in the eyes of the current Rays staff, former manager Lou Piniella wa...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm.In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the vete...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Protests were held on both ends of Pinellas County on Monday in opposition to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents as they seek asylum at the U.S. border."Children are not pawns," "No kids in cages" and "I would...
Updated: 7 hours ago