Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Prison comment leads to mistrial in Dade City murder case

DADE CITY — Derral Wayne Hodgkins' first-degree murder trial ended Monday in a mistrial after a state witness mentioned his previous time in prison.

"Mr. Hodgkins has the right to be tried only on the evidence of his guilt and not on his prior record," Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa said in granting a motion for a mistrial.

Attorneys quickly set a new trial date: April 4.

Hodgkins, 51, is accused of killing Teresa Lodge, a 46-year-old cook who lived in Land O'Lakes, in 2006. Authorities say he was at her apartment the night of Sept. 28, 2006, when they began fighting. Hodgkins beat and choked Lodge, who was 5 feet 1, 100 pounds, then stabbed her multiple times in the neck and chest, authorities said. She died on the floor of her bedroom, discovered a day later by a friend after she didn't show up for work.

Hodgkins was charged with the killing in 2007 when DNA tests tied him to scrapings taken from under Lodge's fingernails.

She worked at Frank's Cafe, across from her apartment on U.S. 41, where she cooked and cleaned dishes from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lodge's former co-workers testified that she fried bacon, handled biscuit dough and frequently dipped her hands into hot water in the cafe's kitchen.

Prosecutors said there's no way the fragile DNA would have survived those tasks and remained under her nails, so it must have been left there during her murder as she fought and scratched at Hodgkins.

Monday morning, a man who shared a jail pod with Hodgkins in 2007 was called to testify for the state about what Hodgkins had told him about his case.

Robert Weeks said Hodgkins told him he wanted to be alone with Lodge and was upset when he went to her apartment once and found she had a friend over.

He also said Hodgkins was surprised that investigators found any of his DNA.

"Something about he took more precautions," Weeks, 52, said Hodgkins told him.

Then Assistant State Attorney Jim Hellickson asked if Hodgkins ever talked about having financial problems.

Weeks answered, "Yeah, he was having trouble. Just like anybody when you get out of prison."

Hodgkins was released from prison in 2004 after serving 17 years for raping a 12-year-old girl in 1987. Authorities said he went to the girl's home in Balm, in eastern Hillsborough County, looking for her mother. The mother wasn't there, but when the girl arrived home, he attacked.

Jurors hearing Hodgkins' murder case weren't allowed to know about his criminal history. Prosecutors argued to keep the trial going, and suggested the jury be given an instruction to disregard Weeks' statement.

But Siracusa said given what's at stake — the state is seeking the death penalty — the problem was insurmountable.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Prison comment leads to mistrial in Dade City murder case 01/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'If anyone can hear us … help.' Puerto Rico's mayors describe 'horror in the streets'

    World

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - In the northern Puerto Rican town of Vega Baja, the floodwaters reached more than 10 feet. Stranded residents screamed "save me, save me," using the lights in their cellphones to help rescue teams find them in the darkness, the town's mayor said.

  2. My AP Top 25 ballot: FSU out, USF, Florida Gators back in

    Blogs

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. Maybe he's right.

  3. Forecast: Scattered thunderstorms in Tampa Bay; Maria could affect Carolinas

    Weather

    Scattered thunderstorms will threaten the Tampa Bay area Sunday, but most of the area will see sunshine.

    Scattered thunderstorms threaten Tampa Bay on Sunday. [Courtesy 10News WTSP]
  4. Trump tweets and NFL response escalate drama of Sunday games

    Politics

    The owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and other teams on Sunday joined a chorus of NFL executives criticizing President Donald Trump's suggestion that they fire players who kneel for the national anthem.

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays Journal: Duda home run sets Rays record

    Blogs

    BALTIMORE -- With one swing of the bat, Rays DH/1B Lucas Duda broke a team record and tied a personal mark in Saturday's game against the Orioles that was not complete at press time.

    Lucas Duda, right, watches his three-run home run against the Orioles.