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Saved phone number points murderer to cell

A jury needed only about half an hour Wednesday to convict a 22-year-old man in the 2005 murder of a popular Clearwater barber.

After a two-day trial, a jury found Clearwater resident Billy L. Jackson guilty of second-degree murder. Prosecutors said Jackson shot and killed Tommy Gregory, 34, on Dec. 30, 2005.

Gregory was found slumped in a Honda Civic that had crashed into a tree at Pennsylvania Avenue and Lee Street in Clearwater. He had been shot in the chest and died shortly after being taken to Mease Dunedin Hospital.

Police developed Jackson as a suspect after discovering that Gregory had saved his phone number on his cell phone in the minutes surrounding the shooting, prosecutor Michael Marr said.

A witness also came forward to provide a description of the shooter that "fit Jackson to a T," Marr said. Jackson also provided false alibis in an interview with detectives.

The motive for the killing is unclear, Marr said.

Jackson is set to be sentenced July 18.

Gregory was a father of three children who were 3, 6 and 9 at the time of his death. Though he had to battle drug addiction, family members said he had seemed to turn things around.

Gregory ran the barbershop A Cut Above the Rest at 2001 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. and had hopes of opening a second shop.

Saved phone number points murderer to cell 05/21/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 23, 2008 3:17pm]

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