Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Skinheads get deals for cooperation in Tampa murders

TAMPA — Kenneth Hoover helped build houses for the homeless and worked in a Red Cross soup kitchen. He said he wants to make a difference in society.

"I'm not the same person I was 13 years ago," he said, wiping tears from his eyes.

But in 1998, Hoover wasn't helping homeless men turn around their lives. Instead, he helped kill two of them in a hate-driven attack he and his friends called "bum rolling."

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Hoover, 38, to 121/2 years in prison and two of his former friends, Cory Hulse, 38, and Charles Marovskis, 33, to 20 years each in the random killings of two homeless men in Tampa in the fall of 1998.

The defendants were all members of a hate group called "Blood and Honour," where the senseless beatings of people they considered inferior were badges of honor, prosecutors said.

The three, who could have been sentenced to life, received lesser sentences because they pleaded guilty to their part in the deaths and testified against a fourth member of the group, James Robertson, 32.

Robertson, whom prosecutors considered the most culpable of the four, was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison in the deaths of Alfred Williams, 62, and Richard Arseneau, 44.

There may never have been a murder case at all but for Hoover's early cooperation, defense attorney Tim Fitzgerald told U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich.

"He solved this crime for them," Fitzgerald said.

Unlike the others, Hoover cooperated at a time when the case was nonexistent. Prosecutor Laurel Moore Lee told Kovachevich that the case had "a critical lack of evidence" before Hoover agreed to help.

Hoover has been in custody for five years as prosecutors built their case on two counts of committing murder in a racketeering enterprise. That time, Hoover said, changed him.

"I'm really sorry for everything I've done," Hoover told the judge. "I have nothing to say to excuse me for what I did. … I just know that if I am given a second chance … I can make a difference in society."

Kovachevich said remorse and forgiveness have their place. But so does justice, she said, refusing a defense request for a sentence of less than 12 years.

The judge said Arseneau and Williams "may have been aimless in their lives, but you four defendants were aimless in your lives. … You were miserable human beings."

The four men beat Williams so savagely with a tire iron and their fists that police would find teeth scattered around his body. Arseneau took an ax to the back of the head.

The cases went for years. Police found no evidence at the scenes to link anyone to the deaths. But in 2003, an inmate facing 10 years in prison for bank robbery offered information in hopes of leniency.

The informer was Robertson.

Prosecutors say Robertson expressed horror at the killings and portrayed himself as a passive witness, instead pointing to Marovskis as the group's leader.

During the next four years, Robertson continued providing damaging information.

But his efforts backfired. As the FBI and prosecutors investigated, prosecutors say they determined Robertson played a "principal role" in the killings.

Kovachevich told Hoover that he had to live with the murders.

She told him to think of those two homeless men every time he looked in the mirror. In it, she said, "you are going to see the faces of those two victims the rest of you life."

Hoover answered in a voice almost too soft to hear, "Yes, your honor."

Reach William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com.

Skinheads get deals for cooperation in Tampa murders 01/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 12:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses

    Business

    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning

    Blogs

    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  5. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.