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Pasco man claims self-defense in 2005 roommate shooting

NEW PORT RICHEY — James Reynolds came home one day in July 2005 to discover his roommate, Jeffrey Fix, waiving around Reynolds' .357 handgun.

Fix fired a shot, and a tussle ensued, defense attorney Keith Hammond said Monday. Then Reynolds got ahold of the gun and fatally shot his roommate in the back of the head.

Hammond told jurors it was self-defense. Reynolds, 64, is on trial this week for manslaughter.

Assistant State Attorney Eric Rosario told jurors the shooting could have been an accident, but Reynolds didn't dial 911, and he didn't report the incident.

Instead, Fix's body was found two days later, on July 17, 2005, near Old Dixie Highway in Aripeka, wrapped in blue carpet from Reynolds' boat.

Detectives identified the body as Fix, a 48-year-old transient from Michigan who had been convicted three times for indecent exposure, among other charges. Then they visited the home at 6633 Candice Lane in New Port Richey, where Fix and Reynolds both lived.

Authorities found blood had soaked into the plywood floor, which had just been repainted.

Reynolds had fled to Baltimore, Rosario said, where he took apart the handgun and disposed of the pieces in different garbage bins around the city. Detectives went to Baltimore to interrogate Reynolds, who said he knew nothing about the blood.

He wasn't charged until 2009, when he admitted pulling the trigger.

Hammond argued Reynolds was in fear for his life: Fix had been drinking, and he fired the first shot, Hammond said.

Jurors heard Monday from Robert Morgan, who found Fix's body while he was out in the woods hunting with his son.

"My son saw it first and suggested we stop because it could be a dead deer," Morgan said. "I flipped the carpet with a stick, and I didn't want to touch anything. I saw it was a leg."

The trial is expected to continue today.

Pasco man claims self-defense in 2005 roommate shooting 10/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011 11:10pm]
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