Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man gets life in prison for 'monstrous' attacks on two Zephyrhills women

DADE CITY — The sentence was a foregone conclusion. Jathniel McMichael could only get life in prison for two horrific attacks on Zephyrhills women in their 60s.

But first, the judge who presided over McMichael's two trials, and the two trials of his co-defendant, had some things to say about the crimes that were terrifying for both their randomness and their brutality.

"It's the kind of evil that exceeds my capacity to fully comprehend it," said Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa.

On March 1, 2007, a 66-year-old woman was awoken in her mobile home by two masked intruders. They held a knife to her throat, demanded money and jewelry, then took turns raping her. Before they left, one of them kicked her in the head.

Three weeks later, with no arrests in the first attack and Zephyrhills' senior citizens still reeling in fear, a 68-year-old woman in another mobile home park lived a similar horror. Two masked men barged in, demanded money, beat her. This time, they drove their victim in her minivan to a bank and withdrew money. Along the way, one of them raped her in the backseat. The trip ended at a dark, water-filled quarry, where they pushed her in and pushed her van in after her.

She managed to move out of the way, climb out and get help.

Bobby Lee Black III and McMichael, his friend, were charged. Black, 22, was tried and convicted in both cases last year and sent to prison for life. McMichael, 21, faced trial in the first attack in May and was convicted. This week, a jury found him guilty of home invasion robbery, kidnapping and grand theft motor vehicle in the second attack, but acquitted him of sexual battery. (Prosecutors said McMichael drove the van while Black raped the woman in the back.) He was also convicted of felony battery.

Through all the court hearings, Siracusa remained silent about the crime itself. The judge was required to presume both men innocent, to protect their rights and to ensure they got fair trials.

On Thursday morning, he heard from McMichael, who maintained his innocence and insisted he's a good person. He heard from McMichael's mother, who said she prays for the victims but stands by her son.

Then the judge finally broke his silence.

"I have to tell you, Mr. McMichael, we're not defined by what we think of ourselves," Siracusa said. "We're not defined by our intentions. We're defined by our actions. The actions that you and Mr. Black engaged in were beyond monstrous. They don't have a word for them."

He said he didn't believe McMichael's story, that Black and a third defendant, Andre Brathwaite, committed the crimes and told him about it, which is how he knew details when he was interviewed by two sheriff's detectives.

But even if that were true, the judge said, "How can a person raised in a good family sit and listen to that heinous description and not report that to the authorities?

"You did nothing, and as a result, another woman gets dragged out of her home, beaten, raped and thrown into a quarry."

Regardless, the judge said, the story was not credible, and he was convinced it was McMichael who committed the heinous acts.

And with that, he handed down the sentence in both cases.

It amounted to this:

Life in prison, followed by life in prison, followed by 75 years.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Man gets life in prison for 'monstrous' attacks on two Zephyrhills women 08/19/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  2. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.

    Consumer

    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  3. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea

    World

    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  4. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property

    Retail

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  5. How should St. Pete make up for dumping all that sewage? How about a street sweeper?

    Blogs

    Every crisis has a silver lining.

    In the case of St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis, which spawned state and federal investigations and delivered a state consent decree ordering the city to fix a dilapidated sewer system, the upside is figuring out how to satisfy the $810,000 civil penalty levied by the Florida …

    City Council chairwoman Darden Rice said it was important to chose carefully because residents will be paying attention.