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Son goes on trial in Hernando man's shotgun slaying

Stephen Horne listens as prosecutor Pete Magrino delivers his opening statement during Horne’s trial Tuesday in Brooksville. Horne faces life in prison if convicted in the death of his father.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Stephen Horne listens as prosecutor Pete Magrino delivers his opening statement during Horne’s trial Tuesday in Brooksville. Horne faces life in prison if convicted in the death of his father.

BROOKSVILLE — Stephen Horne needed a cigarette.

In his opening statement to a jury in a Hernando County courtroom Tuesday, prosecutor Pete Magrino detailed the moment when he says Horne, charged with first-degree murder, broke.

On that evening in May 2010, a Hernando sheriff's detective was sitting in an interview room with Horne and asked him about a sawed-off shotgun allegedly used to murder Horne's father, Ivan.

Before he answered, Horne wanted a cigarette, Magrino explained. So a few minutes later, the detective allowed the now-20-year-old to step outside the Sheriff's Office for a smoke. When they came back inside, the prosecutor told jurors, Horne confessed.

" 'I killed my father,' " Magrino said Horne admitted to the detective. " 'Do you think bad of me because I killed my father?' "

In addition to murder, Horne is charged with robbery with a firearm and possession of a short-barrelled shotgun. He faces life in prison if convicted of the shooting. Authorities say Horne was motivated by drugs and money.

His alleged accomplice, Angel Gonzalez, was convicted in the murder last month and has since been sentenced to life in prison. A jury took less than two hours to reach its verdict.

Horne's attorney, J. Edwin Mills of Orlando, did not give his opening statement Tuesday, though Magrino told jurors he anticipated the defense would argue that Gonzalez — not Horne — pulled the trigger. The trial is expected to last three days.

Magrino called three witnesses. Octavio Penalver gave the most compelling testimony.

Two weeks before the murder, Penalver said, Horne showed him a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. The two men discussed ammunition, and Penalver even offered to give his friend a box of unused shells if he needed them.

The day before the shooting, Gonzalez and a female friend bought shotgun shells at a Walmart, Magrino said during Gonzalez's trial. Investigators later found the gun, the shells and the receipt buried in Horne's grandmother's yard.

Horne and Gonzalez, reports said, picked up Ivan Horne in Tampa late on May 3. With Gonzalez driving, Ivan Horne sat in the passenger seat, and his son, holding the shotgun, rode in back.

At one point, Magrino said, the gun discharged. Horne told his father it was a firecracker.

Gonzalez drove to a vacant house in Ridge Manor. Once they were there, Horne pumped a round into his father's back, reports said. As the man lay dying, reports said, Horne shot him three more times.

The two men stole 47-year-old Ivan Horne's prescribed oxycodone pills and between $200 and $600, Magrino said. They then stripped him of his boots, trousers and cell phone.

Penalver testified that early the next day, he picked up Horne for work at a construction job. When they arrived at the job site, Penalver told the jury, Horne took out three oxycodone pills and gave them to him.

Each man took one pill and then went to work. According to Penalver, Horne said he had gotten the prescription narcotics from Tampa the previous day.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1432.

Son goes on trial in Hernando man's shotgun slaying 09/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:14pm]
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