Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State won't seek death for 2005 killing

TAMPA — The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office is no longer seeking the death penalty against murder suspect David Lee Onstott.

Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner wouldn't explain why Wednesday. But the decision follows an appeals court ruling this month that guaranteed the state won't be able to introduce Onstott's confession at trial.

"Mr. Onstott is pleased," said his attorney, Assistant Public Defender John Skye. "We look forward to the trial."

Onstott, 39, will face a jury in August. He is charged with first-degree murder and attempted sexual battery in connection with the April 2005 death of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde.

Prosecutors announced in May 2005 that they would seek the death penalty. They seemed to have solid evidence: Hillsborough sheriff's investigators said Onstott, who dated Lunde's mother, confessed to choking the girl and dumping her body in an abandoned fish farm pond near her Ruskin home.

But the case against the registered sex offender took a hit last year. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta threw out the confession, ruling that detectives ignored Onstott's clear and unequivocal request for an attorney in the days after they detained him.

Last month, the 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld that decision without comment.

The prosecution still has potentially incriminating statements Onstott made to his mother, a jail nurse and a detention deputy. The full extent of those statements has not been made public.

No physical or forensic evidence ties Onstott to the crime.

The State Attorney's Office filed paperwork Friday announcing its decision to forgo seeking the death penalty.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or

(813) 226-3337.

State won't seek death for 2005 killing 05/28/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.