Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sex offender found guilty in Clearwater woman's stabbing death

LARGO — A Georgia sex offender accused of beating, raping and stabbing a Clearwater mother of three was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday afternoon and may face execution.

John Lee Hampton, 35, silently stared at the ceiling as the guilty verdict was read in the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center courtroom.

In separate parts of the courtroom, relatives of Hampton and the victim, Lashonda McKinnes, hugged and cried at the end of the trial, which began Monday.

Nine of the 12 jurors suggested Hampton receive the death penalty, leaving prosecution and defense attorneys until Aug. 28 to file sentencing memoranda, said 6th Judicial Circuit spokesman Ron Stuart.

Those documents will outline any factors that could modify the sentence and argue for or against the jury's recommendation.

Circuit Judge Richard Luce, who presided over the trial, will decide on the sentence. A judge usually follows a jury's recommendation.

The slaying occurred June 10, 2007.

Hampton gave police conflicting accounts of what happened, then said he killed McKinnes, 25, by stabbing her neck and slitting her throat when she came at him while he looked through her things, a prosecutor said.

Police said Hampton's shorts and shoes were stained with blood and that bloody socks were found in a trash can at McKinnes' north Clearwater apartment complex.

Hampton had attempted to clean up the scene by dousing McKinnes with lighter fluid and other chemicals, said David Tobiassen of the State Attorney's Office.

But a defense attorney said during opening arguments Monday that Hampton and McKinnes had consensual sex after a night of drinking and card games with two other people.

He said Hampton fell asleep and was awakened by a male friend, who told him it was time to go.

Passing through the apartment, Hampton saw McKinnes on the floor bleeding and tried to revive her, said defense attorney Richard N. Watts.

Watts said Hampton "panicked" and tried to clean up before leaving the apartment.

After the verdict Thursday, several members of McKinnes' family declined comment.

Jimmy Hampton, 32, said his brother's "bad record," including a charge of kidnapping and 11 years in a Georgia prison for child molestation, added to the verdict.

"If he did it, he deserves what he got," Jimmy Hampton said. "But I can't say if he did it. I wasn't there."

Maurice Mack, McKinnes' older sister, is caring for the three young daughters, one of whom was hiding in the apartment that night and witnessed parts of the attack.

The girl, De'jhana McKinnes, now 7, did not take the stand, but prosecutors had recordings of statements she made to detectives.

Drew Harwell can be reached at or (727) 445-4170.

Sex offender found guilty in Clearwater woman's stabbing death 06/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.