Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial begins for man in decapitation slaying in 2002

Assistant Public Defender Ron Eide talks with Dennis George Roache, 40, Tuesday during jury selection in his murder trial.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Assistant Public Defender Ron Eide talks with Dennis George Roache, 40, Tuesday during jury selection in his murder trial.

CLEARWATER — Armed with a machete, police say, Dennis George Roache decapitated a man in 2002 — then held a mirror to his victim's face so "if the head were still alive, it could see itself."

Roache, 40, went on trial this week for the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Gregory Shannon. He has the right to wear civilian clothes during his trial, so jurors won't presume he's guilty just because he's spent the last six years incarcerated.

Only Roache, facing life in prison, spent the first day of jury selection Tuesday dressed in jailhouse blues. His defense attorneys may hope jurors presume something else:

That Roache is not guilty by reason of insanity.

• • •

Roache's mental competency, and his sanity, was a concern even before his 2002 arrest for murder.

He moved from Jamaica to St. Petersburg around 1991. His family said he is a schizophrenic who didn't take his medication. Neighbors saw him talk to a piece of wood. His stepmother said he hears voices.

He was accused of choking his wife in 1993. In 1998 he was sent to a mental hospital. In 2000 he gave up his driver's license after being found medically unable to safely operate a vehicle. Later that year he was found incompetent to stand trial for a driving infraction.

Then on the morning of Feb. 4, 2002, police say Roache broke into a Childs Park home wielding a machete. Inside was his ex-girlfriend, Monique Pennywell, and her new beau, Gregory Shannon.

"I told you to stay away from my baby's mother," Roache told them, according to Pennywell.

Roache attacked Shannon as Pennywell ran into the bathroom to dial 911. When she emerged, Shannon's body lay beside the bed. The head was outside, with Roache.

Police said he propped the head against the windshield of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and put a mirror next to it.

• • •

Twice Roache was found incompetent. But after a two-day hearing last year, Circuit Judge Robert Morris Jr. found Roache, now 40, competent to stand trial.

Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger told the St. Petersburg Times in 2006 that his office might pursue an insanity defense at trial. Court filings show his attorneys have filed notice that they may do just that and prove Roache suffers from mental illness.

That issue came up again Tuesday. Roache told the court he wanted to subpoena a witness — for a child custody hearing. His attorneys told the court that Roache sometimes forgets this is a murder trial.

"This is part of his delirium," Assistant Public Defender Ron Eide told the court.

Judge Morris then talked Roache through the criminal justice system one more time.

"Mr. Roache, are you ready for this trial?" the judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Roache said.

"Are you ready to get it done?" the judge asked.

"Yes, sir," Roache said.

Opening statements could start today.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Trial begins for man in decapitation slaying in 2002 09/23/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 10:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.