Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Man who killed two in convenience store robbery sentenced to death

LARGO — Khadafy Mullens was sentenced to death on Friday for killing two people in a brutal 2008 robbery that was captured in vivid detail on a convenience store surveillance camera.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico said factors that persuaded him to sentence the 29-year-old to death included Mullens' previous felony conviction; the fact he killed while committing another crime, robbery; and that he was shooting people to prevent them from being witnesses against him.

Mullens, who is bipolar, smiled as he walked into the courtroom. During the proceedings, he at one point dropped his head as if nodding. Later, he seemed alert but showed no reaction as Federico sentenced him to death.

In August 2008, Mullens shot and killed store owner Mohammad Uddin, 44, and customer Ronald Hayworth, 50, at Central Food Mart, 2157 Central Ave., about half a dozen blocks west of Tropicana Field. He also shot another man coming into the store, Albert Barton, 69, who survived.

Mullens was with another man. Authorities say it was his co-defendant, Spencer Peeples, 32, whose case is pending.

During the robbery, Mullens removed a video recording system that he presumably thought was the only one in the store. He was wrong. A new surveillance system had just been set up and it provided the clear footage that formed compelling evidence in the case.

The video shows Mullens and the other man waving a handgun and forcing Uddin to the floor. They demand his car keys and take lottery tickets. Hayworth, the customer, also is in the store. Then, the second robber leaves.

When Mullens sees Uddin dialing a telephone, he shoots and kills him. Next he grabs Hayworth, swings him to the floor and shoots him.

Barton is outside the store and appears to be entering. Mullens yanks Barton inside and shoots at him. Barton falls, but fights back and survives.

Mullens pleaded guilty to the murders in April. His plea amounted to a life-or-death gambit, but one that legal experts said was a sound one, given the overwhelming evidence against him.

If Mullens had gone to trial and been convicted — highly likely considering the video — a jury would have listened to more evidence during a second phase in the trial, and recommended either death or life in prison. The jury's recommendation would not have been binding, but the judge would have been required to give it great weight.

But in this case, Federico listened to all the evidence himself that related to how Mullens should be sentenced. The decision was the judge's alone and marked the first time he has imposed the death penalty in a long career.

In death penalty cases, a judge is required to weigh what are known as aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors amount to evidence in favor of the death penalty, and mitigating factors amount to evidence against the death penalty.

In this case, Federico found prosecutors had proven three aggravating factors, and that Mullens' public defenders had established several mitigating factors. But he said he gave "great weight" to each aggravating factor, and that they "far outweigh the mitigating circumstances."

The mitigating factors included: that Mullens was suffering from "extreme" mental illnesses; had little capacity to "conform his conduct to the requirements of the law"; was sexually abused as a child; could be treated for his mental illness; is immature and easily manipulated; was acting under the domination of the second suspect; had poor IQ and academic scores; that he took responsibility for his crime; and that he had loving family members.

Federico noted that he gave no weight to one claim made by the defense — that Mullens' father named his son Khadafy after Moammar Gadhafi because he respected the way the Libyan leader had opposed the Reagan Administration.

Comments
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rowdies fall to Penn FC

Rowdies fall to Penn FC

By Darek SharpTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For the second time this season, Penn FC got two goals from a former Rowdie that led the way to a win over Tampa Bay.Lucky Mkosana doubled his season total Friday in a comeback 2-1 win before an...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature tha...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

RIVERVIEWJaime Rodriguez, 78, popped the question Friday morning but skipped the "getting down on one knee" part."If I get on my knee, you’d have to help me," he told the emcee a moment before asking Luz Rivera to marry him.Rivera, 69, smiled and sai...
Updated: 8 hours ago