LARGO — A trial scheduled for today has been delayed because of legal issues that relate to the last-minute discovery of the potential murder weapon.
Cody Dials is charged with first-degree murder in the death of David Rhea, 39, a commercial fisherman who lived in Pinellas Park.
But in a rare development, a gun that may have been used in the killing was discovered last week, found in the bottom of a canal. Detectives obtained it after following instructions contained in a recently discovered letter and hand-drawn map that authorities believe was prepared by Dials.
The discovery created a conflict of interest for Dials' defense attorneys, because a lawyer from their agency, the office of Regional Conflict Counsel, also is representing someone who may need to testify about the discovery of the map inside the Pinellas County Jail.
For that reason, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton on Monday granted a request to give Dials a new attorney, who will need more time to study the case. A new trial date has not yet been set.
Assistant State Attorney Joshua Riba said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun examining the weapon, but has not yet been able to determine if it is the one used in the crime.
Rhea was shot and killed on May 7, 2012, and three young men were charged with murder: Dials, 20; Randy White, 21; and Zachary Perrine, 23. Dials would have been the first to face trial.
While in jail, Dials got tattoos on his face of teardrops appearing to come out of his eyes, and words above his eyebrows that say "out of sight, out of mind."
Judge Newton recently said she would allow the tattoos to be covered up with makeup during the trial.