Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man gets death in 2006 stabbing of Land O'Lakes diner cook

Derral Wayne Hodgkins is sentenced to death Friday in Dade City for the murder of Teresa Lodge in 2006. Hodgkins was on lifetime probation when he went to the 46-year-old’s apartment, choking and fatally stabbing her.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Derral Wayne Hodgkins is sentenced to death Friday in Dade City for the murder of Teresa Lodge in 2006. Hodgkins was on lifetime probation when he went to the 46-year-old’s apartment, choking and fatally stabbing her.

DADE CITY — Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa had a couple of legally valid reasons to sentence Derral Wayne Hodgkins to death for choking and fatally stabbing Teresa Lodge.

Hodgkins was on lifetime probation when he went to Lodge's apartment in 2006 and murdered the 46-year-old diner cook. Just two years earlier, he finished serving nearly 17 years for the kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old Hillsborough girl, whose head he backed over with his car before leaving her for dead.

Under Florida law, Siracusa said, the probation and previous violent crime were both reason enough for Hodgkins to die. But a third circumstance, which the judge gave "great weight," was the heinous nature of Lodge's death.

She remained conscious as she died.

"Teresa Lodge lived long enough in the defendant's grasp after the blows to the head to realize she was being murdered," Siracusa wrote in his 10-page order.

The judge said those factors outweighed defense testimony that Hodgkins was brain damaged, that his stepfather abused him or that family members loved him.

And so, on Friday morning, in a small, quiet courtroom with only bailiffs and court employees, Siracusa ordered Hodgkins to be executed "in the manner prescribed by law."

Hodgkins showed no emotion. No family members attended the hearing for Lodge, who had known Hodgkins years earlier and had exchanged letters with him while he was in prison.

Sometime on Sept. 27, 2006, Hodgkins went to Lodge's lakefront apartment. Prosecutors say he got into a struggle with Lodge and strangled her. As she lay unconscious on her bedroom floor, he stabbed her seven times in the chest.

More than a year passed before he was arrested. That's when tests found Hodgkins' DNA in scrapings taken from under Lodge's fingernails. Prosecutors said it got there as Lodge clawed and scratched.

The case went to court in January 2011 but ended in a mistrial after a state's witness mentioned Hodgkins' rape conviction. Seven months later, a new jury convicted Hodgkins of first-degree murder By a 7-5 vote, jurors recommended the death penalty.

Then the hearings stretched out as attorneys argued his fate. In October, Hodgkins' attorneys made a last-ditch attempt to keep their client off death row by arguing that he suffered from brain abnormalities.

Two psychologists testified that parts of Hodgkins' brain were smaller than normal, and he had poor impulse control.

Prosecutors pointed to state files in which Hodgkins denied any type of mental health problem in 1985, as well as a 1988 screening in which he denied any hospitalization for mental illness. When he was put in solitary confinement, he didn't deteriorate emotionally, records showed.

Prosecutors also noted Hodgkins managed to control himself for the two years he was out of prison, before killing Lodge.

Man gets death in 2006 stabbing of Land O'Lakes diner cook 04/26/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 27, 2013 2:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.