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Pasco man pleads to murder in the middle of his trial

NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco man pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge on Tuesday after jurors watched a video of him robbing a 7-Eleven and knocking over the store's clerk, who later died.

Russell David Lane, 32, was in the middle of his trial along with co-defendant Adam Moyer, 20, when he decided to change his plea. Authorities say the pair robbed a 7-Eleven store at 9039 Ridge Road on Jan. 10, 2012, around 1:30 a.m.

In a video shown in court, two men barge into the store, both wearing hoodies. One has his face covered, one does not. The covered face goes behind the counter and demands money — he nets $33. Lane, with his face uncovered, tussles with Danny Foster, a 61-year-old clerk who was a month away from retirement.

Lane pushed Foster, whose head hit the concrete, authorities say. Foster's body lay in the doorway while Lane and the masked man escaped. Foster later died from his injuries.

Pasco sheriff's deputies set up a perimeter and tracked the men with dogs, according to prosecutor Chris Labruzzo. They found both with the money and stolen cigarettes and beer.

Lane's lawyer, Mark Goettel, said Lane watched the jurors faces as they watched him in the video, and said, "I've had enough."

Goettel called Lane's decision "shocking" considering the years spent preparing for a trial.

"I couldn't see how he could have benefited in any way from this," Goettel said. "He had nothing to risk going forward, and he's given up his rights to any appeals."

However, Goettel said Lane is taking responsibility for his actions. Lane, he said, felt he had to "set the record straight" by testifying that Moyer was not the one with him when he robbed the store.

Circuit Judge Mary Handsel sentenced Lane, a repeat offender, to life in prison without parole — a mandatory sentence.

Moyer's lawyer, Dennis Watson, asked Handsel for a mistrial, and said he planned to call Lane as a witness in the case.

Handsel allowed both the state and the defense to question Lane, and said she'd decide if the trial would continue this morning.

Pasco man pleads to murder in the middle of his trial 02/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:46pm]
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