Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco homeless man on trial for manslaughter

NEW PORT RICHEY — Kimberly Goode spent the last night of her life hanging out at a homeless camp off U.S. 19, drinking with three friends.

The drinking went on for hours, but that wasn't unusual. It led to arguments, which also wasn't unusual.

At one point on this night last June, Goode was sitting on a recliner with another woman named Cynthia Geller. Two men, William Johnroe and Paul Pelchat, were with them around the fire. There was an altercation between the women, and Goode punched Geller.

That set off Johnroe, according to witnesses and authorities, who punched Goode in return. Then things settled down. Goode retreated to her tent and the others went on drinking.

An hour or more went by — no one can really remember — and Goode emerged from the tent wielding a club the size of a baseball bat. She swung it at Johnroe, who grabbed the club before being hit. Then, authorities said, he turned it on Goode.

By the time it was over, her face was smashed, her dentures were broken. She had broken ribs and broken fingers. Sometime that night, she died. She was 46.

Johnroe, 34, is on trial this week charged with manslaughter. Prosecutors say Goode was defenseless as he pummeled her to death.

"This was not self-defense," Assistant State Attorney Chris Jensen told jurors. "This was not justified, it was not excusable."

But Gary Welch, Johnroe's attorney, told jurors that his client was never the instigator.

"What Mr. Johnroe did was never initiate the fighting," Welch said. "Ms. Goode started it every time. He ended it every time."

Johnroe, a registered sex offender who spent 13 years in prison, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted.

Pelchat and Geller both testified Tuesday about the day Goode died. Their daily habit, Pelchat said, was to panhandle or hold signs on U.S. 19 until they had enough money to buy booze for the day.

After the beating, Pelchat said, he helped Johnroe drag the body deeper into the woods. Johnroe tried to dig a grave, but it wasn't big enough. So they covered the body with one of the tents and palm fronds, Pelchat said.

Weeks later, the three of them traveled to Clearwater. Pelchat and Geller both said Johnroe had been threatening them if they reported Goode's death.

Johnroe said "if he went down, we would go down with him," Geller testified.

Once they were free of him, Geller called police, and she and Pelchat led them to the body. It had been more than a month since Goode died.

Welch pressed Pelchat on how the attack began.

"She was trying to hurt him?" Welch asked.

"In my opinion, yes she was," Pelchat said.

"She just wasn't waving it at him a little bit, right?" Welch asked.

"No," Pelchat said.

"His hand was raised?" Welch asked.

"In self-defense, yeah," Pelchat said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco homeless man on trial for manslaughter 04/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety

    Bucs

    If someone's house was engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]
  2. Winning high school essays urge balance in U.S. foreign, domestic spending

    K12

    Three winners were selected by a panel of judges from among 250 entrants to receive a $1,200 scholarship in the R.F. "Red" Pittman Tampa Tribune Scholars essay contest.

  3. Tampa Tribune scholarships inspire students to keep digging for facts

    College

    TAMPA

    When the Tampa Tribune launched a scholarship for Hillsborough County's top high school seniors more than 50 years ago, no one could have guessed it would one day be turned over to the newspaper's rival, now called the Tampa Bay Times.

  4. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.

  5. Photos of the week: 20 great images from around the globe

    World

    This week's collection of the most interesting photos from around the world features a silhouetted surfer in France, images of joy and grief from England, a massive landslide in California, a life rescued and a life lost at sea, an image from the final performance of "the greatest show on Earth" and, just for kicks, a …

    BIARRITZ, FRANCE - MAY 24:  Guillermo Satt of Chile in action whilst competing in the Men's Qualifying Round 2 during day five of the ISA World Surfing Games 2017 at Grande Plage  on May 24, 2017 in Biarritz, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)