Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Mistrial declared after Pasco murder defendant attempts suicide

NEW PORT RICHEY — A judge declared a mistrial in a first-degree murder case Thursday morning after the defendant attempted suicide at the Pasco County jail, officials said.

Theodore Diller, 70, who was accused of shooting his wife in 2012, was being escorted to the showers at the detention center in Land O'Lakes about 4:20 a.m. He sprinted away from guards, ran up a flight of stairs and sat on the railing, according to an incident report.

Jail deputies ordered him down, but he locked his legs and hanged upside down. Before guards could get to him, he let go and fell head first onto the concrete. Deputies scrambled to get medical attention for Diller, who lay in pools of blood.

No other inmate cell doors were open at the time, the Sheriff's Office said.

Later Thursday morning, in the courtroom where Diller's trial has been going on all week, Circuit Judge Mary Handsel said he was in critical condition with a brain hemorrhage and was not awake. He was being treated at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.

Diller's attorney, Catherine Garrett, who was pursuing an insanity defense, had asked for a mistrial. Handsel researched case law on the matter before granting the mistrial. She called the jail incident an obvious suicide attempt and not an accident.

Handsel sent home the jury, citing a medical emergency by the defendant.

The Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate.

Prosecutors said Diller killed Rhonda Diller, his wife of nearly 40 years, in 2012 at their home in Land O'Lakes. The two were in the midst of a divorce and prosecutors say Diller feared losing their lakefront home.

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