ST. PETERSBURG — James Alex Wilborn Jr. offered to plead guilty this week to groping and stabbing a woman in downtown St. Petersburg. Under the deal, he would have gotten a 15-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors and a judge turned it down after hearing the victim say that wasn't enough time. But then, on Wednesday, a jury found him not guilty.
Wilborn, 32, is still in the Pinellas County Jail. He faces another aggravated battery charge stemming from a 2012 incident. And he has a history of violence.
Wilborn's defense attorney, Kelly McCabe, said witnesses in this week's trial had problems identifying him. During the trial, she also questioned why the victim and one other witness in the case visited the crime scene this week along with a prosecutor.
McCabe asked for a mistrial, arguing that a judge's order should have prevented witnesses from discussing their testimony with each other. The mistrial was not granted, but she did cross-examine the witnesses about their meeting.
Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said having both witnesses together was probably inadvisable but said it was simply an effort for one of the women, who lives out of state, to refresh her memory of the scene.
Wilborn was accused of following a woman and her friend on Jan. 1, 2011, as they left Push Ultra Lounge, 128 Third St. S. He "grabbed the victim in a sexually suggestive manner," according to police. She slapped him, and then Wilborn repeatedly stabbed her in the back, police said, causing her lung to collapse.
Although he was acquitted of that charge this week, he still faces an aggravated battery charge for a different incident from last year. Police said Wilborn had propositioned a woman at the Scene Premium Night Club, 211 Third St. S, but she refused his advances and left. He then followed her and struck her in the head with a beer mug, police said, which he had taken from the club.
He previously was convicted of misdemeanor battery charges for attacking a woman outside the State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., in 2010. And he was convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his father in the 1990s.
Staff Writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.