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. Rays make Hechavarria trade official

    Blogs

    Here is the release from the team ...

     

  2. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  3. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  4. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  5. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]