Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Suspect in 2010 Hudson bank robbery goes on trial

NEW PORT RICHEY — Wearing a black ski mask and a dark green jacket, and with a black semiautomatic pistol in his hand, the robber pulled open the glass door.

He sprinted to the counter, his gun waving this way and that. A man with white hair ducked. It was about 2:45 in the afternoon at a Wachovia bank at 14048 U.S. 19 in Hudson.

"Everybody get down! Do you want to die? Put the money in the bag or I'll (expletive) kill you," he yelled to the tellers and customers.

In a courtroom Wednesday, 37-year-old Tito Morell, who is already serving a 40-year sentence for a different crime, sat in a suit, charged with the March 16, 2010, bank robbery.

Assistant State Attorney Eva Vergos walked a jury of seven men through the particulars.

Vergos said Morell screamed, "Hundreds! Fifties! Twenties! No dye packs! No bait packs!"

Teller Joan Trancucci had just finished up a large deposit. So large, in fact, that bank policy said she was supposed to mark the money with bands and put it into the vault immediately.

But she heard yelling, and then there was a gun in her face.

"Do you want to die?" she said the robber asked her. "Put the money in the bag."

Trancucci took the robber's plastic Walmart bag with the smiley face on it and stuffed it with bundles of cash.

Rebecca Gamble, at the next window over, crawled over to trip the alarm. It was about a foot and a half away.

Don't move, the robber said, and pointed the gun.

He threw the bag at Gamble next. She filled it. He ran out with $7,889, and it all took less than a minute.

What the robber didn't see was a man named Carl Darnell in a side office. Darnell was with his girlfriend. He covered her with his own body, Vergos said, and later followed the robber out.

He saw the robber get into a red Chevy Cavalier and pull off his ski mask. Darnell called 911.

The robber fled east on State Road 52, and deputies spotted him quickly.

Then, a chase — so fast that when the car sped over some railroad tracks it blew out two tires. The driver slowed down, then stopped on U.S. 41.

Deputies jumped out and shot out his other two tires. But Morell refused to come out, authorities said.

There were SWAT teams and canine units and stranded motorists. Morell threw money out the car window, authorities said

As dusk fell, crews wheeled in floodlights to illuminate the highway.

At 9 p.m., about six hours after the robbery, it finally ended — after Morell smoked a cigarette, authorities said.

"Tito Morell is not guilty," his public defender, Rick Fletcher, told the jury. "He was on a path of self-destruction that day. What ensued was chaos. The perfect storm."

The trial is expected to conclude today.

Morell could face life in prison if convicted.

Suspect in 2010 Hudson bank robbery goes on trial 05/29/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Cavern' closes westbound lanes on E Fletcher Avenue in Hillsborough County

    Roads

    Westbound lanes of E Fletcher Avenue are closed near the Hillsborough River to repair what the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office terms a "cavern" that formed under the roadway.

  2. Joss Whedon's ex-wife accuses him of cheating, being 'hypocrite preaching feminist ideals'

    Celebrities

    Joss Whedon made his name directing cult television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and big-budget action movies, which often featured women in empowering roles. Many applauded him for being a champion of women, a feminist in an industry accused of misogyny and sexism.

    Joss Whedon at the screening of "Much Ado About Nothing" in 2014. Whedon's ex-wife Kai Cole alleged in an essay published by The Wrap on Sunday that Whedon had multiple affairs during their 16-year marriage. (Associated Press)
  3. Pasco school's parents, principal seek compromise on behavior plan

    Blogs

    Leaders of a Pasco County elementary school that has come under criticism for its new behavior plan have offered an alternative model that sticks to its goals while also better considering younger children who might not understand the original terminology.

    This is the original chart that upset parents with wording such as "anarchy" and "conform to peer pressure" without any context.
  4. Jon Gruden, Rex Ryan meet with Jameis Winston on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    One of the interesting guest stars on HBO's "Hard Knocks", which covers every minute of the Bucs' training camp and preseason, has been Jon Gruden. The legendary former Tampa Bay coach has popped up from time …

    In a teaser clip from episode 3 of "Hard Knocks", Jon Gruden and fellow former coach Rex Ryan meet with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to discuss his past and future in the NFL. [HBO/NFL FILMS]
  5. German police seize thousands of 'Trump' ecstasy tablets

    National

    BERLIN — German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump's head, a haul with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900.)

    This undated  picture provided by Polizeiinspektion Osnabrueck police shows an ecstasy pill. German police say they have seized thousands of ecstasy pills in the shape of President Donald Trump's head, a haul  with an estimated street value of 39,000 euros ($45,900). Police in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany, say they found the drugs during a check Saturday evening on an Austrian-registered car on the A30 highway. [Police Osnabrueck via AP]