Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco man sentenced to 30 years in prison for shaking baby

NEW PORT RICHEY — Before he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Jonathan Gelb stood at the front of the courtroom and proclaimed his innocence.

"I didn't abuse you," Gelb said Friday to his son, Lukuz, who was hurt so severely that he is in a permanent vegetative state. He was in the courtroom Friday. Lukuz, nearly 4, cannot see, walk, talk or feed himself. He wears a helmet to protect his head. He is so fragile, his family says, he could die any day.

A jury decided last month that Gelb, now 28, was the one who hurt his son and convicted Gelb of aggravated child abuse. Gelb had been watching Lukuz, then 2 months old, on Sept. 30, 2008, when he called the baby's mother and said she needed to come home because Lukuz was twitching. When Leann Rodriguez got to their Port Richey home, she found the infant gasping for air. Doctors said Lukuz's brain was bleeding and he had leg fractures — new and old ones. Experts testified Lukuz's injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

"I hope some day you can look at yourself and know what you did was wrong," Rodriguez said in court, looking at Gelb as she spoke.

Gelb said he was guilty only of not immediately calling 911 when he noticed his son was in distress.

"Lukuz, we are all people," he said. "We all make mistakes."

He was adamant that he didn't cause the boy's injuries. Gelb, who has been in the Pasco jail since his arrest in December 2009, said he has a photo of his son with him in his cell. He said he loves Lukuz.

"What is the answer to my son's condition?" Gelb said. "I still don't know. But I am going to do everything I can to find out why my son is the way he is today."

He plans to appeal the conviction.

Gelb could have gotten as little as seven years in prison. The maximum was 30 years. "If I had more to ask, I would," said Assistant State Attorney Eva Vergos.

She said Lukuz's family feels thankful the boy survived. But Gelb caused "irreparable harm."

Lukuz "certainly is not enjoying the quality of life that a 4-year-old child should be enjoying," Vergos said.

Circuit Judge Mary Handsel gave Gelb the maximum — 30 years. Handsel spoke of how Gelb said he is searching for answers.

"Those answers lie in him and him alone," Handsel said. "Only he knows what happened."

She spoke of how Gelb professed love for Lukuz.

"In this particular case, it's obvious your frustration overcame your love," she said.

Rodriguez, 31, said she didn't believe Gelb's statements.

"He can deny it all he wants, but it's not going to change anything," said Rodriguez, who now lives in Hudson.

Lukuz needs constant care, she said, and will for the rest of his life. She said he recognizes his name. He likes to cuddle. The other day she was kissing his cheek, and he smiled and giggled. She lives for those moments, that connection with her son. She is trying to tell her son's story, to increase awareness about shaken baby syndrome. She doesn't want other children to go through what her son has.

"People make mistakes," she said of what Gelb did to their boy. "But this is a mistake that will never be forgiven."

Comments
Forecast: Tampa Bayís bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bayís bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK ó A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Updated: 2 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Floridaís dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Updated: 2 hours ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Fridayís scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Published: 01/19/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA ó It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bayís local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bayís local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18