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Spring Hill man guilty of attempted murder, home invasion charges

Lucas Farrell, 23, right, is escorted from the courtroom by a Hernando County sheriff’s deputy after the verdict was read.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Lucas Farrell, 23, right, is escorted from the courtroom by a Hernando County sheriff’s deputy after the verdict was read.

BROOKSVILLE — Lucas Farrell could not deny he was at a Brooksville apartment one summer night last year. The 23-year-old Spring Hill mechanic's blood was all over the place, including on a broken bedroom window and an interior door handle.

But Farrell denied he broke through an apartment window armed with an assault rifle and put a bullet in his drug dealer's foot.

"There's no way I did that," Farrell testified Thursday, looking over at the six Hernando County Circuit Court jurors.

They didn't believe him.

After deliberating for about 90 minutes, the jury on Thursday evening found Farrell guilty of attempted felony murder with a firearm and home invasion robbery.

He faces 25 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

On July 25, 2011, Farrell testified, he and a friend went to Candlelight Apartments about 1:30 a.m. to buy a few grams of cocaine from Evan Lethco. He said the friend arranged the meeting and that they had bought drugs from Lethco on a couple of other occasions.

This time, Farrell said, his friend waited in the car. When Lethco handed over the bag, the drug felt like sugar. Farrell said he asked for his money back, but Lethco said the sale was final, then started throwing punches, connecting at least once. Farrell said he swung a few times to defend himself, then fled to a red Mustang, where his friend was waiting.

The cocaine turned out to be real, but of poor quality, Farrell said. In addition to that drug, Farrell said, he drank vodka and took Percocet and Xanax. He then drove the Mustang back to the apartment, alone. Armed with a hammer, he said, he walked up to Lethco's bedroom window, took one swing and then fled.

Lethco's testimony earlier in the week contradicted Farrell's. He said his girlfriend went to bed about 10 p.m. and he followed her about an hour later. He woke up about 5 a.m. when a man armed with an assault rifle broke through the window and demanded money.

There was a struggle over the gun before the intruder pulled the trigger several times. One bullet hit Lethco in the foot; another grazed his hand. The intruder made off with about $100.

Investigators found Farrell's blood on the window, a chair on the patio and the fence surrounding it, and an inside door handle.

A friend of Farrell's testified that he told her he had been in a fight involving a gun and threw the weapon in the lake.

Farrell disputed that. He also testified that he cut his hand at work a couple days earlier and the wound bled during the earlier fight with Lethco and again when he returned and broke the window.

Farrell's story "almost shocks the conscience as being absolutely unbelievable," Assistant State Attorney Rob Lewis told the jury.

But Public Defender Devon Sharkey told jurors there was plenty of room for reasonable doubt.

Both Lethco and his girlfriend said the intruder had longer, curly hair.

Testimony indicated Farrell has worn his hair close to the scalp for the past couple of years.

Sharkey noted that there was no blood on a sheet or curtain that covered the bedroom window, nor in the bedroom where the struggle occurred.

Lethco testified the attacker gave him a fight. At the time, Sharkey said, he outweighed Farrell by some 100 pounds.

Perhaps most critical, Sharkey said: When police presented a photo pack of suspects, both Lethco and his girlfriend picked the same man. It wasn't Farrell.

The room was dark, Sharkey said, but there would have been enough light to identify an unmasked attacker during the struggle.

"This was mano a mano," Sharkey sad. "This was face to face. Why didn't Evan Lethco say, '(Farrell) is the guy who did this?' Because he wasn't the guy in the apartment."

Relaxed and smiling throughout the day Thursday, Farrell blinked rapidly a few times after the clerk read the first guilty verdict, then slowly lowered his head to the defense table, face first.

A moment later, he looked back at both his father and tearful mother before a bailiff led him away.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. On Twitter: @TMarreroTimes and @HernandoTimes.

Spring Hill man guilty of attempted murder, home invasion charges 12/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 6, 2012 8:27pm]
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