Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco man convicted of second-degree murder in 2007 drug shoot-out

NEW PORT RICHEY — Torrence Antoine Bates went to an apartment on Nov. 9, 2007, looking for crack cocaine. What was in dispute was whether he was there to buy it or steal it, and whether the shoot-out that erupted and killed 22-year-old Jose Godineaux was an accident, self-defense or murder.

A 12-member jury deliberated about an hour and a half Tuesday evening and found Bates, 21, guilty of second-degree murder.

The state had charged him with first-degree felony murder, which meant it did not have to prove the killing was premeditated, only that Bates killed Godineaux while committing a violent felony — in this case, robbery.

Bates, who has no prior record, will be sentenced Feb. 5. He faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and maximum of life.

He took the stand in the trial, telling jurors he was homeless and looking to buy drugs when he went to an apartment on St. James Drive, off Grand Boulevard. He knew Godineaux, who went by "Pinky," to be a drug dealer living there. Bates was carrying a gun, as he said he always did, for protection. It had a single bullet inside.

Bates said that when Godineaux's girlfriend let him in, the apartment was dark. But he saw someone get out of bed and flash a gun. Bates said he then pulled his gun, and when his hand was hit by Godineaux's bullet, his own pistol went off.

Godineaux was struck in the head and died the next morning.

Prosecutors called Godineaux's then girlfriend to testify, and she gave a contradictory account.

Jessie Rooney testified that Bates barged into the apartment with his gun already pulled.

"She ran to the back of the house, she was yelling 'gun, gun, gun!' She was letting Jose know what was going on," Assistant State Attorney Chris Labruzzo told jurors.

Bates must have fired first, Labruzzo argued, because his gun was hit by lead fragments that rendered it inoperable. He couldn't have fired back.

But John White, Bates' attorney, questioned how Godineaux, mortally wounded by a bullet to the head, could have returned fire.

"It just doesn't seem in the realm of possibility," White said. "What had to have happened, in my judgment, is that those two guns had to go off at essentially, identically the same point in time."

Jurors were allowed to consider lesser charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. If they decided that Bates had acted in self-defense, or that the killing was justifiable or accidental, he would have been found not guilty.

"What Mr. Bates did that night was by no means an accident," Labruzzo argued. "He was there to get drugs, and in fact he armed himself with a gun."

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

Pasco man convicted of second-degree murder in 2007 drug shoot-out 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  2. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    Jason Jerome Springer, 39, is accused of threatening to kill a U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, according to a federal indictment.  |Hernando County Sheriff's Office photo]
  3. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  4. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]