Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Trial begins in Tampa murder case

TAMPA — A Tampa man accused of a fatal shooting last year attracted attention through a series of bizarre missteps in the crime's immediate aftermath, including reporting to police that the murder weapon had been stolen, prosecutors said during opening statements in his trial Tuesday.

David Rodriguez, 42, is charged with first-degree murder, robbery and making a false report to law enforcement authorities. Police and prosecutors say he shot and killed Colen Thomas, 49, during a robbery at Thomas' house at 702 E. Broad St. in January 2012.

Rodriguez went to the house with two other men, one of whom was known to Thomas, to commit a robbery, prosecutors said. When Thomas resisted, Rodriguez shot him with a 9mm handgun.

But in the aftermath of the incident, Assistant State Attorney Kristen Over told a jury Tuesday, Rodriguez's nerves started to fray.

"On the news, he sees that the man he shot is dead, so he starts to freak out," Over said. "He needs to find a way that he's not going to be connected to that gun any longer. So what does he do? He calls the Tampa police and says he had a burglary at his house."

Rodriguez called police to report his gun stolen the day after the murder, according to court records. The day after that, he told investigators he had been at the scene of the robbery with his gun but had not been the shooter, according to police.

That, too, was an effort at misdirection, Over said.

"I'm confident that at the end of this trial that you will believe that he is not only a principal to this crime; he is the trigger man," she said.

Over said the final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Rodriguez's gun was discovered buried in his back yard.

Rodriguez's defense lawyer, Thena Edwards, said there was a lack of physical evidence — such as fingerprints or DNA — connecting Rodriguez to the scene of the killing. The shooting itself, she said, was the result of a drug deal gone awry.

"There's more that's going on," Edwards said. "This is a drug deal gone bad, and not a robbery."

The trial continues Wednesday.

Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

Comments
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from a Virginia restaurant Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump.Sanders said she was told by the owner of T...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

After hanging on for a 2-1 last night over the MLB-best Yankees, the Rays are looking to make it two in a row today.And their lineup will have a different look, with INF Joey Wendle making his first career appearance,  majors or minors, in the o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said, in interviews, that she would have loved to have been an opera singer.She has certainly become a fixture at many opera houses around the country: She is often spotted in the audience; she sometimes presides...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

An Oldsmar cheerleading coach charged this week with sending explicit images to a minor now faces additional sexual battery charges.Victor Martin Valenty, 28, is accused of having "inappropriate sexual activity" with a 15-year-old at his home for mor...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, 123 men have been detained for weeks, caged in prison cells for up to 23 hours per day and denied access to attorneys at a federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon, a lawsuit filed Friday by t...
Updated: 5 hours ago
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Girl Scout convinces companies to cut down on millions of plastic straws

Girl Scout convinces companies to cut down on millions of plastic straws

Last fall, the CEO of San Francisco-based Dignity Health received an email out of the blue. It was from a 16-year-old Girl Scout named Shelby O’Neil. With all due respect, she wrote, the company’s "Human Kindness" commercial had a glarin...
Updated: 2 hours ago