Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco man gets 20 years for shooting at friend in 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY — Vito Cito went to court Tuesday to be sentenced for a shooting he committed in 2007. Cito was 17 then. No one was hurt.

Still, under state gun laws, he faced 20 years in prison.

Cito's lawyer asked the judge for mercy, saying his client was born to crack-addicted parents who both beat him. One special punishment, according to the defense: Cito's father made him kneel on dog food cans for hours, forbidden from shifting to relieve his aching knees.

Cito claimed he sometimes rummaged through trash bins for food and slept on the porch when there were people in the house using drugs with his parents.

After listening to the horror stories, Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa called the parents up to answer for their son's life.

"Explain it," the judge told Mary Lollis, Cito's mother. "Explain why your son is here."

Lollis denied the beatings. She denied that her son ever had to scrounge for food.

"Why was he taken away from you then?" Siracusa asked her.

"I got into drugs," she said.

Marijuana, crack cocaine. She drank, too.

Cito's attorney, Scott Andringa, asked if her memory of her son's childhood might be clouded by that.

No, she said.

"He's had spankings, yes, but I never abused him," Lollis said.

Vito Cito Sr. was next.

"Please explain this life you've provided your son," the judge said.

"I never beat him," Cito Sr. said.

But he did tell of how, when he was released from prison in 1999, he promptly taught his 10-year-old son to drive.

Cito, now 21, was convicted in April of aggravated assault and discharging a weapon from a vehicle within 1,000 feet of a person. He was arguing with a friend and as he sped away in a Jeep, Cito turned back, pointed the revolver and fired.

Siracusa had a few options.

The state's gun laws called for a 20-year mandatory sentence. The judge could have sentenced Cito as a juvenile because the shooting happened when he was 17. Or he could have sentenced Cito as an adult, but with a departure from the guidelines because of his age. Both of those meant much less prison time.

Ultimately, Siracusa decided Cito's traumas in childhood didn't mitigate the crime. He sentenced Cito to 20 years in prison.

"It is unfortunate what you've been subjected to," the judge said, "but it doesn't excuse what you did. Your actions are your own."

Cito still faces trial on attempted murder charges for another shooting. Authorities say he shot at two men in a Port Richey Checkers drive-through, striking one in the neck. Both men recovered. It happened June 3, 2007 — the same day as the other shooting.

After he was arrested and bailed out of jail, Cito showed some signs of promise, maybe for the first time in his life. He went to live with his girlfriend and her mother, never stepping astray of the law. He worked 70 to 80 hours a week laying carpet and roofing, he said, even though he made little money because of his criminal record. He started a paralegal course that he hoped would lead to a career.

And his girlfriend is pregnant, due in a week.

Andringa, his attorney, tried to appeal to the judge on that notion.

"We're going to start the cycle over again," he said. "This child that's going to be born next week will have an absent father."

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

Pasco man gets 20 years for shooting at friend in 2007 07/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle