LARGO — Leslie Perrico didn't know she was placing a telephone call to a murder scene.
She was just following standard procedures in her job as a public safety dispatcher for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office when she stayed on a phone call even though no one was talking to her on the other end.
By doing so, she created a key piece of evidence in the murder case against Patrick A. Evans, 44, who is accused of killing his wife, Elizabeth K. Evans, and her friend Jerry B. Taylor. She described the recording Wednesday during Evans' trial in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.
Perrico testified that on Dec. 20, 2008, a 911 call came into Pinellas County's central dispatch system, but the caller hung up. Dispatchers don't just let those calls go.
Instead, a report of the hang-up was given to the Sheriff's Office. Perrico called the number back immediately.
Someone picked up the line at the Gulfport condominium where the call had originated, but no one spoke into the receiver. Perrico decided to stay on the line anyway because she heard something going on in the background.
Perrico didn't know quite what she was hearing at first. It sounded like a domestic dispute of some sort: A man barking "get on the bed." Another saying "put the gun down." A woman pleading for help and asking, "Are you out of your f- - - - - - "
Then she heard two loud crashing noises. It was only later that she realized those sounds were gunshots — the gunshots that killed Elizabeth Evans, 44, and Taylor, 43.
Outside of the courtroom, Perrico said, "I was distraught over the fact that … they were actually gunshots and not just crashes." She would have liked to have known they were gunshots, so she could have let deputies know exactly what they were getting into as they came to the scene.
"I'm just glad I kept the recording up and left the line open," she added, because that created evidence for the court case.
The courthouse seats were filled with a couple dozen family members and friends of the victims as the trial continued Wednesday. They listened to the recording twice — once with the jury present, once without.
Tom Paslay, a neighbor and friend of Elizabeth Evans' family, said he felt "so sorry for the family" that they had to listen to it.
Defense attorney David Parry argued the recording should not be played for jurors, but Judge Richard Luce overruled him.
The recording ends as deputies enter the condo to find the bodies. Other witnesses on Wednesday described the crime scene.
Prosecutors have said that the gunshots on the recording were fired by Evans from his .40-caliber Glock handgun.
The trial continues today.