Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa woman on trial over killing boyfriend while pregnant

Venecia DePaula, 32, who faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, listens to court proceedings Tuesday. She is accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend, who was also involved with another woman, in August 2009 while she was pregnant.


Venecia DePaula, 32, who faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, listens to court proceedings Tuesday. She is accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend, who was also involved with another woman, in August 2009 while she was pregnant.

TAMPA — He was asleep, curled on the couch in his underwear, when the pregnant woman pulled the trigger.

Venecia DePaula, 32, faces life in prison if convicted this week of first-degree murder.

Her attorney admits she shot the man she considered her boyfriend. "She blacked out," Bryant Camareno told jurors Tuesday during opening statements in Hillsborough Circuit Court. "She fired the gun."

But she didn't plan to do it, he said.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon insists she did.

"She was hurt. She was jealous. He was slipping away from her," Harmon said.

To judge her state of mind early the morning of Aug. 3, 2009, jurors will learn about her relationship with 29-year-old victim Felipe Perez, a former baseball player with a Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliate — a man with more than one woman in his life:

There was his wife, separated but still a friend. She had agreed to remain married on paper so he could bring his son to Florida from the Dominican Republic.

There was his new girlfriend in Sarasota, a woman he'd met at the gym and started dating in the early summer of 2009.

And then there was DePaula, who was with him for a few years and, according to her lawyer, was pregnant with his baby.

Perez, who delivered appliances, lived with DePaula at the Foxcroft Apartments off Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. He told his wife that he and the pregnant woman were no longer a couple.

The pregnant woman seemed to disagree.

One morning a few weeks before Perez died, the phone rang over and over, 20 to 30 times, at his new girlfriend's home. He was there. The two woke up and Perez recognized DePaula's name on the caller ID, Harmon said.

The new girlfriend eventually answered twice, but heard nothing and hung up. Then, the third time, a woman spoke.

"He's my boyfriend," the woman said. "He's not your boyfriend.

"I'm still in love with him. You need to stop seeing him."

At the end of July, DePaula paid cash for a revolver at a gun shop but, by law, had to wait three days to claim it, store employee Miguel Encarnacion testified. When she returned, her approval process wasn't completed.

She wound up buying a gun Aug. 2 from a newspaper classified ad. Seller William Abourjilie Jr., who testified Tuesday, said he showed her how to use it.

Her attorney said she bought the gun to hurt herself. She was despondent, alone.

But she wasn't the one who got hurt.

Perez was out with a friend that night, playing dominoes, talking, dancing. He ended up at a sports bar. He would come and leave DePaula's apartment as he pleased, her attorney said. When he arrived early in the morning, she was lying in bed with her 4-year-old daughter.

"She waited for him to be asleep," prosecutor Harmon alleged. "She waited for him to be helpless. She waited for him to be defenseless.

"And then she took this gun, this 9mm semiautomatic handgun, and she took the muzzle and put it within an inch of his head, and she shot him.

"And she shot to kill."

She got her daughter and began to drive to Palm Beach County, where her family lived, the prosecutor said.

On the way, she spoke to her friend Janet Prieto, who testified in court Tuesday that DePaula told her: "I did something stupid. … God is not going to forgive me."

She walked into a police station and uttered words that a community service officer and a corporal recalled for the jury: "I shot my boyfriend" and "I think I killed him."

She gave birth while in jail, her attorney said, and her mother took in DePaula's young daughter and the baby she shared with Perez.

Before her confession, but after she'd shot him, DePaula spoke to someone else — Perez's new girlfriend, who had called his phone. The prosecutor told the jury what she said.

DePaula told her he was sleeping, and she told her this:

"You're not his girlfriend. I'm his girlfriend."

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

Tampa woman on trial over killing boyfriend while pregnant 02/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.