Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mugging case against Gulf High ex-athlete goes to the jury

Former Gulf High football player Julian Ford, with attorney Susan Gardner, listens to testimony at trial Tuesday.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Former Gulf High football player Julian Ford, with attorney Susan Gardner, listens to testimony at trial Tuesday.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two men attacked Robert Amato outside Bourbon Street Nightclub the night of April 4, 2007. They pounded his face and broke his jaw. They stole a cross on a chain from around his neck.

These facts are not disputed.

One man is now facing trial in the attack: 18-year-old Julian Ford, a former football player for Gulf High School who never returned to the field following his arrest. He's charged with robbery and felony battery and is being tried as an adult, even though he was 17 when the attack occurred.

His attorney, Susan Gardner, told jurors Tuesday morning that Ford is the only suspect ever questioned in the case and that even Amato could only identify his attackers as a Hispanic man and a black man with dreadlocks.

Ford was shopping that night in a hip-hop clothing store in the same strip center as Bourbon Street. Amato, the club manager, walked in to drop of some fliers and browse the clothing racks. He noticed two men staring at him. Minutes later, back out in the parking lot, he was mugged.

Gardner pointed out that another man in the store at the time, in addition to Ford, had dreadlocks.

"This is a case of mistaken identity, of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Gardner said.

But prosecutors played a recording for jurors Tuesday in which Ford is questioned by a detective at Gulf High School.

At first, he denied knowing anything about the attack. Then he changed his story, offering up details, even promising to get the necklace back.

Then, finally, he said this: "What if it wasn't me?"

No one else has been arrested in the case.

Ford was a running back and linebacker for Gulf High. Though not a surefire Division I prospect, he missed virtually any chance at playing his senior season and winning a college scholarship when school administrators decided not to let him suit up again following a mandatory suspension. Many had argued on his behalf, including Gulf coach Jay Fulmer.

Amato and Ford both took the witness stand Tuesday. The state and the defense rested.

Jurors will begin deliberating this morning.

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

Mugging case against Gulf High ex-athlete goes to the jury 10/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco targets repeat offenders with new code enforcement tactic

    Local Government

    HOLIDAY — The out-of-date and overpriced gasoline cost on the sign outside — $2.69 for a gallon of regular — is the first indication that business isn't booming.

    Basil A. Almamluk is the owner of the closed Pure Gas station in Holiday, which has emerged as a poster child for a new "high return'' county code enforcement effort. The property on Mile Stretch Drive is littered with discarded furniture and other trash. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Pasco tax roll shows increase, but so, too, are budget requests

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's tax roll grew by more than 5 percent in 2016, but it's a figure that likely would require local government budget writers to trim proposed spending requests.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
New construction accounted for $693.5 million in taxable property values being added to the Pasco County tax rolls in 2016, according to preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Joiner. Overall, the property tax roll grew more than 5 percent, according to the preliminary numbers.

  3. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  5. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.