BROOKSVILLE — A Hernando County man who allegedly blasted his father in the back with a shotgun to steal pills and cash entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday to charges of first-degree murder.
Stephen Horne, 19, and his alleged accomplice, Angel Gonzalez, 26, were both arraigned in Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing's courtroom in connection with the May 3 fatal shooting of Horne's 47-year-old father, Ivan.
Gonzalez also entered a not-guilty plea during his brief arraignment.
Horne and Gonzalez each face charges of murder and armed robbery. Prosecutors also charged Horne with possession of a short-barreled shotgun.
Gonzalez was the first to appear, about an hour before Horne. Rushing read the charges, appointed public defenders — Alan Fanter for Horne and Tim Barrett for Gonzalez — and then scheduled their pretrial hearings for July 2.
Prosecutor Pete Magrino, the chief homicide prosecutor in Hernando County, has said that he has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. Magrino did not attend Tuesday's arraignments.
Before bailiffs led Horne back to jail, he silently mouthed something at two women and a man who were sitting in the courtroom. On their way out of the courtroom, they all declined to identify themselves or comment.
According to a Sheriff's Office report, after the May 5 arrests of Horne and Gonzalez, Horne told detectives that he had called his father about 10:30 p.m. May 3 and arranged to meet him in Tampa.
Horne and Gonzalez picked up Ivan Horne, then drove him to a vacant house on Otter Drive in Ridge Manor, on a lime rock road not far from Stephen Horne's home at 35029 Broken Stone St. Horne told his father that Gonzalez lived there.
Once there, as the three men walked toward the back of the house, Horne pulled out the sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun and pumped a round into his father's back.
As his father lay dying, the arrest report states, Horne shot him three more times in the torso.
After stripping off the dead man's shorts, Horne told detectives, he and Gonzalez drove to Stephen Horne's home and took 22 oxycodone pills and about $640 from the dead man's pants pockets.
Horne then buried his father's clothing and the shotgun in his back yard, according to reports.
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.