LARGO — Frank William Roberto took the witness stand on Wednesday and said he sped away from St. Petersburg Police officers last year because his passenger, Kenneth Davis, was pointing a gun at him.
Roberto is on trial on charges of vehicular homicide and fleeing law enforcement. At first, police were not looking for Roberto in January 2012 — they were seeking Davis, a purse-snatching suspect who also had reportedly claimed he would shoot officers before going back to prison.
Roberto was driving his mother's red Kia when police tried to stop the car. Roberto instead sped north on 49th Street, swerving into the southbound lanes. He crashed just north of Fifth Avenue North and Davis was killed.
Assistant State Attorney Holly Grissinger asked Roberto why he never mentioned to police that Davis was pointing a gun at him. Roberto said he was sedated shortly after the accident and doesn't remember a lot. He said he told one officer Davis had a gun.
Roberto said he pulled to the side of the road when a police SUV with sirens flashing approached. But he said Davis forced him back into traffic. He said that as he sped forward, the gun "was up and down, but it was always pointed toward me."
Asked why he didn't stop, he said driving "was the safer thing to be doing versus stopping and being in the middle of a shootout."
Roberto's mother Nancy Gill also testified that her son told her after the crash that Davis had been pointing a gun at him.
Officers have testified that no gun was found.
Closing arguments are scheduled for today.