Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Prosecutor suggests 94-year-old Pasco woman was beaten to death with vase

NEW PORT RICHEY — Scott Andringa posed a hypothetical. The assistant state attorney was interviewing medical examiner Dr. Jonathan Thogmartin about the slaying of 94-year-old Ann Parlato. Thogmartin examined Parlato's body at the scene and later performed her autopsy.

"Let's assume someone knocks on the door," Andringa said in court Thursday, "and Mrs. Parlato opens the door into the foyer area of her house."

Then Andringa painted the scene: Assume there's a white vase there, and the assailant uses it to strike Parlato three times in the foyer. Assume Parlato falls backward toward a chair in the living room, where she's struck another seven times with this white ceramic vase. Assume her blood stains the attacker's clothes. Assume the attacker rapes Parlato. Assume that after Parlato's death, the attacker placed the vase in her body, poured bleach on her, burned part of her.

"Is that fact pattern true or consistent with what happened?" Andringa asked.

"As long as the ceramic vase is harder than the bones in her face," Thogmartin said, "sure, absolutely."

Thogmartin was the first witness called by the state on Thursday, the third day of testimony in the first-degree murder trial of John Sexton, an acquaintance who did yard work for Parlato. She was murdered and mutilated in September 2010 in her Port Richey home. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty if Sexton, 49, is convicted.

Thogmartin testified that Parlato died from blunt trauma. Her face was crushed. Her upper spine was dislocated from the way her head twisted from repeated blows. She had three or four rib fractures. There was a defensive injury to her middle finger. She likely died quickly. "The pain would've been horrible," Thogmartin said.

Her injuries also indicated that Parlato was sexually assaulted before her death, and stabbed and set on fire after she died.

Earlier this week, a DNA and crime scene analyst testified that Parlato's blood was found on Sexton's T-shirt, khaki shorts and boots. She also analyzed DNA samples taken from Sexton's hands, cuticles and fingernails, and found traces of Parlato's DNA.

Jurors heard more DNA testimony on Thursday from Sean Michael, who does crime laboratory analysis with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He tested a cigarette butt found in a trash can in Parlato's home and said the DNA matched that of Sexton.

Another crime scene analyst laid out prints of Sexton's shoes against impressions of bloody footprints found on the linoleum floor in the house, and found they "share the same class characteristics."

The defense called four witnesses on Thursday afternoon, including a detective who interviewed a neighbor who saw a man in Parlato's home on the night of the murder. The detective testified that the neighbor did not pick Sexton out of a photo lineup.

Sexton's wife, Catherine, also took the stand again. She testified that a computer that was confiscated from her home with a story about the murder was of her doing.

During cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis asked her about the relationship she still had with her husband. He asked if they were still close, and if she had told him she loved him as she left court the other day.

"Yes," she said. "I believe in his innocence."

"No matter what John Sexton did you'd still be in love with him," Halkitis said.

She paused.

"No," she said. "I don't think so."

Jurors will hear closing arguments and begin their deliberations today.

Comments

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

1. Was editor of her high school newspaper, president of her 4-H club.2. Started stripping at age 17 in Baton Rouge, La.3. Made her first porn film with a girlfriend.4. Took her stage name from the Motley Crue bassist, who named his son Storm, and fr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orches...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

TAMPA — In the center of the nightclub, between the cigar case and bustling bar, a giant screen blankets the back wall. Usually, ads for drink specials and coming attractions scroll across.But Friday night, a life-size picture of President Donald Tru...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Updated: 8 hours ago
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Police find dead man in Tampa apartment

TAMPA — Police found a dead man inside an apartment in the 5200 block of Sonora Court Friday after 3 p.m.Who the man is or how long he’s been dead is not yet clear, police said. The victim appears to have been killed in some sort of "homicidal violen...
Updated: 9 hours ago