Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco jury recommends death penalty in 2006 murder

A Pasco jury recommended late Wednesday that Derral Wayne Hodgkins, 46, be sentenced to death. He was convicted this week by a jury in the killing Teresa Lodge, 46, in the fall of 2006.


A Pasco jury recommended late Wednesday that Derral Wayne Hodgkins, 46, be sentenced to death. He was convicted this week by a jury in the killing Teresa Lodge, 46, in the fall of 2006.

DADE CITY — When Derral Wayne Hodgkins choked and stabbed Teresa Lodge to death in September 2006, it wasn't his first act of violence.

Jurors considering whether Hodgkins should be put to death or serve life in prison for Lodge's murder learned Wednesday that he also had raped and battered a 12-year-old girl in Hillsborough County in 1987.

After hearing the details of that brutal attack, the jury, by a 7-5 vote, recommended that Hodgkins be put to death.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa has the final decision, and by law he must give the jury's recommendation great weight. A formal sentencing hearing will be held later.

Hodgkins, 51, shook his head and stared at the floor as the jury's recommendation was read Wednesday evening. He was convicted Monday of killing Lodge, a 46-year-old diner cook who was found dead by a friend in a pool of her own blood. Prosecutors say Hodgkins and Lodge knew each other years earlier. When he went to her Land O'Lakes apartment in the fall of 2006, they got into a struggle. Hodgkins choked and beat Lodge, then stabbed her seven times and slashed her throat.

But as Lodge fought for her life, clawing and scratching at Hodgkins, she scraped bits of his DNA under her fingernails, which turned out to be the key piece of evidence that led to his arrest a year later.

In arguing for the death penalty, prosecutors called the killing "conscienceless, pitiless and torturous."

"This was in fact a brutal, vile, sadistic beating of Teresa Lodge," Assistant State Attorney Glenn Martin said.

Those words might also fit what happened to a 12-year-old girl living in Balm, in eastern Hillsborough County, in 1987.

Hodgkins, then 28, had gone to the girl's house to buy marijuana from her mother. The woman wasn't at home, and Hodgkins later told a detective that when the daughter showed up, they began talking on the hood of his car.

That led to kissing in the backseat. The girl told him she didn't want her mother to come home and find them. Hodgkins persisted, and the girl started screaming, so he put his hands around her throat to quiet her.

Then, he told the detective, he got in the front seat and drove to a deserted road. He dragged her out of the car, ripped off her clothes and began to have sex with her. She told him she was a virgin.

When a car drove by and she screamed again, Hodgkins said he didn't know what to do so he started hitting her. When she lost consciousness, he thought he'd killed her.

In a panic, Hodgkins said he drove off quickly, driving over the girl as she lay motionless on the ground. He didn't look back.

He stopped at a convenience store to compose himself, then drove home to his wife and claimed to have had car trouble.

Hodgkins ended up pleading guilty to that crime and going to prison. He was released in 2004 on lifetime probation.

He grew up in a poor family of migrant workers and was frequently abused, Hodgkins told doctors who evaluated him. He dropped out of school early and married for the first time at age 16. That union lasted less than a year, but a psychologist said Hodgkins maintained a pattern of getting involved with younger women.

As an adult, he did maintenance at a Holiday Inn, worked in lawn service and drove a truck. He fathered two sons.

A few family members testified that they love him and would visit him in prison. His daughter-in-law, though, hadn't heard the details of the rape until Wednesday.

"I didn't know the whole story," Tabitha Hodgkins said. "I feel like he played me like a sucker."

Defense attorney Danny Hernandez, in arguing for a life sentence, called Lodge's killing "an act of rage by a mentally disturbed person who snapped," and said Hodgkins had already accepted responsibility for the rape and served his sentence.

But Assistant State Attorney Jim Hellickson told jurors that the rape conviction loomed large in Hodgkins' mind as he was squeezing the life out of Teresa Lodge.

"What did he learn from that?" Hellickson said. "Don't — do not leave a victim alive."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or on Twitter at @mollymoorhead.

Pasco jury recommends death penalty in 2006 murder 08/31/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump's travel ban to take effect, will consider case in fall


    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow a limited version of President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, and will consider in the fall the president's broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raised fundamental issues of national security …

    Prrotesters wave signs and chant during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, outside a federal courthouse in Seattle in May. The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it. The action Monday, June 26, 2017, is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. [Associated Press]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches


    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Restaurant review: Deccan Spice in Feather Sound is a gateway to the allures of Indian cuisine

    Food & Dining


    Feather Sound's Tru Lounge, which was Flo Lounge before that, morphed into Grand Siam in 2012, a giant Thai restaurant owned by the folks who had Ban Thai restaurants in Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon and Lakeland. It was lavish with dramatic fluted chandeliers and a long, polished wood sushi bar, but it …

    Some of the selections at a recent lunch buffet at Deccan Spice included chicken biryani, gobi masala and murgh masala.
  4. Gov. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend' Jimmy Patronis as state chief financial officer


    Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a …

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO
  5. Officially official: Malik Zaire, Jake Fruhmorgen join Florida Gators


    It's finally, officially official: Malik Zaire has joined the Florida Gators.