NEW PORT RICHEY — Francis Sicola, convicted of burglarizing a house two years ago in Fox Run, was sentenced Friday morning to 15 years in prison.
He is still awaiting trial in a homicide that prosecutors say he committed later that same night in August 2008. They say Sicola broke into the Timber Oaks home of Joseph and Bobbe Wido while they slept. When Joseph Wido, an 82-year-old World War II veteran, woke up and confronted him, prosecutors said, Sicola fatally shot him.
Sicola, 27, is charged with first-degree murder and prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
He went to trial in the first burglary in June.
He admitted in a recorded interview with detectives that he broke into the Fox Run house in search of money and cocaine. He said he thought it was the unoccupied home of a drug dealer.
When he took the witness stand, he said his brother, Chris, approached him during a family cookout and told him about an empty house where there were drugs.
Sicola said the two of them rode there on their bicycles. He said he cut a screen door and held it open while his brother went inside.
"It wasn't maybe two seconds and the light came on," he said, and they fled on their bikes.
Because of his criminal background, Sicola faced up to life in prison in that case.
Several family members and a psychologist spoke at Friday's sentencing.
Scot Machlus, the psychologist, diagnosed him with bipolar disorder and paranoid personality disorder and said he had a long history of drug abuse, impulsive behaviors like gambling, and suicide attempts.
Sicola grew up in Pasco County and was frequently passed back and forth between his parents after they divorced.
His mother said she struggled with mental illness and addictions, and his father was a long-haul truck driver who was often away.
There were times, Machlus said, between ages 11 and 13 that Sicola was left to fend for himself.
He first went to prison at 15 for burglary and theft. After he got out, he was caught with a gun and returned to prison for four years, state records show. When he was released in 2002, he began to build a better life, family members said.
He moved to Yadkinville, N.C., married and started a business.
He was visiting his mother in Pasco and helping her move to a new house when the two home break-ins occurred.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.