Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Murder trial to resume Monday

TAMPA — Attorneys presented two images of Joshua Rosa — one innocent, one sinister — in their last pitch Friday to the jury hearing his first-degree murder trial.

By night's end, jurors had given no indication which version they believed. After deliberating more than four hours, the panel requested a weekend recess, with instructions to return Monday morning to try again to reach a verdict.

Supporters of Rosa and 13-year-old Stephen Tomlinson, who died of strangulation on Dec. 8, 2005, in Carrollwood's Logan Gate Park, sat grimly when they learned that the wait for a verdict would drag on.

"This ain't good," whispered Stephen's father, Ron Tomlinson, as jurors left the courtroom at 7:45 p.m.

It had been a long week. Each day, family and friends of Rosa and Stephen packed the cavernous courtroom. They always sat on opposite sides, a delicate balance of emotion and decorum. Crew members for In Session, formerly known as Court TV News, captured every moment of the proceedings.

During his closing argument, defense attorney Brian Gonzalez said prosecutors put the wrong man on trial. Rosa was a full-time community college student, part-time employee at Sports Authority and youth ministry leader at Zion Pentecostal Church. He had been jogging that December evening, lost his keys and, as he searched for them, found the body of his young neighbor and acquaintance, Gonzalez said.

Rosa, then 19, tried to help Stephen, wiping his blood with a pair of white cotton gloves that he used for church activities, Gonzalez said.

A defense expert suggested that two people attacked Stephen, one strangling the teen from behind and another injuring his hip. The strangulation caused Stephen to bleed from the mouth and nose only after he died, said Dr. Ronald Wright, a private practitioner in Missouri.

That theory, Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner said, made no sense.

Why? Because the defense had also argued that Rosa wiped blood from Stephen's face after finding him alive. The victim also had blood on one of his hands, indicating that he was already bleeding as he struggled with his assailant.

"It was not, unfortunately for Stephen Tomlinson, a quick death," Pruner said.

No one witnessed the killing or confessed to it, making the case against Rosa one of mostly circumstantial evidence.

But the prosecutor said Rosa did not find Stephen by coincidence. Only one person, Pruner said, had been seen looking for Stephen in the hours before his death. Only one person had carried a flashlight and walked toward the park five to 10 minutes behind Stephen. Only one person brought with him gloves and fingernail clippers, both of which tested positive for Stephen's DNA. Only one person's keys were found under the victim's body.

And only one person ran out of the woods saying that he did not know Stephen's identity — even though Rosa's mother testified that she had seen her son and Stephen hanging out on her porch just hours before.

"That one person," said Pruner, "is Joshua Rosa."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Murder trial to resume Monday 07/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Press]
  2. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With Friday's opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  3. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.



  4. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  5. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]