Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Murder, pornography cases crowd Hernando courtroom

BROOKSVILLE — Several murder suspects, including John Kalisz, accused of killing his sister and another woman before shooting a deputy to death earlier this year, received court dates Friday in a busy day at the Hernando County courthouse.

Kalisz, 55, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, will have a pre-trial hearing Sept. 22 at 10 a.m.

Authorities say Kalisz killed Kathryn Donovan and Deborah Tillotson and wounded two other women in a Brooksville home before fleeing to a gas station on U.S. 19 in Dixie County where he is accused of fatally shooting Dixie Sheriff's Office Capt. Chad Reed.

Kalisz will stand trial on for the murder of Reed on Aug. 16 at the Dixie County Courthouse.

Also on Friday, a jury convicted Joe Edwin Rogers, 49 of Homosassa on 125 counts of possessing child pornography.

Prosecutor Brian Trehy displayed all 125 pornographic images for the jury. Their deliberation took just over an hour, Trehy said.

Rogers faces a minimum of 42 years in prison, Trehy said, and a maximum of life in prison. His sentencing is set for Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. in Circuit Judge Jack Springstead's courtroom.

Rogers surrendered to Citrus County authorities Nov. 9, 2009. Authorities said he got the child pornography over the Internet.

Because the Rogers trial went on longer than expected, Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said, another trial scheduled to begin in Springstead's courtroom on Friday has been postponed.

Adrian House, 27 of Brooksville faces two counts of robbery with a firearm in connection with the 2007 Boyett's Grove and Citrus Attraction robbery.

The House trial is now set to begin Aug. 23, Barbee said, but it could collide with the first day of murder suspect Robert Jardin's trial, set for the same courtroom.

Jardin faces two counts of first-degree murder in the October 2006 stabbing deaths of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma. If the trial for Jardin begins on Aug. 23, Barbee said, House's trial will be moved to Sept. 7.

Pre-trial hearings were also set Friday for two men involved in another high-profile murder case.

Stephen Horne, 19, and Angel Gonzalez, 26, drove Horne's father Ivan Horne to a vacant Ridge Manor house on May 3, authorities said.

Stephen Horne then shot his father in the back, then three times in the torso, before taking 22 Oxycodone pills and about $640 from the dead man's pants pockets, prosecutors say.

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or at

Murder, pornography cases crowd Hernando courtroom 07/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 8:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection


    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  2. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix


    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.

  4. Police identify man who drove along Clearwater Beach sand

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Police have identified the Pinellas Park man who they said drove his car over beach chairs and umbrellas along Clearwater Beach and streamed it on Facebook on Thursday afternoon.

    Clearwater Police took a suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he drove along Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, running over beach chairs and umbrellas. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  5. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild


    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]