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Killer's sentencing on hold until Dec. 1

Phillup Alan Partin looks toward his defense team as his trial resumes Friday afternoon. Partin could be sentenced to death.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Phillup Alan Partin looks toward his defense team as his trial resumes Friday afternoon. Partin could be sentenced to death.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Phillup Alan Partin entered court Friday with one last chance to beg for his life. He left an hour later with two more months and another opportunity.

A judge suspended a Friday hearing set for Partin's lawyers to present mitigating evidence against a death sentence.

A jury voted 9-3 in March to recommend death for Partin, 43, one day after it convicted him of strangling a 16-year-old girl and dumping her body along Shady Hills Road.

Circuit Judge William Webb will make a final decision on the jury's recommendation. But Partin's attorneys argued they needed more time to interview Partin's father, Lester Viekko. Viekko will testify about how he abused Partin and his mother, attorney Bjorn Brunvand said.

Viekko refused to cooperate until recently, Brunvand said, and his testimony would show that Partin does not deserve a death sentence.

Despite the objections of prosecutor Mike Halkitis, Webb agreed to suspend the hearing after hearing from just one witness, Partin's daughter, Patrisha. She was dismissed after just five minutes of questions from Brunvand.

Partin's sentencing, which was originally set for Sept. 26, will now take place Dec. 1.

Even as his lawyers won a small victory, Partin remained indifferent for most of the hearing.

At times, Partin stared at family members of his victim, Joshan Ashbrook.

Ashbrook's mother, Tara Lynn Ramsdall, and her husband, Robert Ramsdall, later complained to prosecutor Mike Halkitis.

"He tried to wink at me," Tara Lynn Ramsdall said. "He's trying to get to me for some reason.

"He's got that mean streak in him. It must be an art to him."

Robert Ramsdall said Partin looked at him and silently said the words, "I want to have sex with your wife."

Halkitis told Ramsdall to be back in court Nov. 3, when Friday's hearing will resume. He wanted Ramsdall to testify about what Partin had said.

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at nmerchant@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Killer's sentencing on hold until Dec. 1 08/29/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:10am]
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