Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Trial opens in 2011 beating death in Hudson

NEW PORT RICHEY — The beating was loud and there was screaming, so Steve Olson went to take a look.

He walked across the house at 7110 Stevens Drive, just off Old Dixie Highway in Hudson, to his roommate's room. He made it to the doorway and saw Andre Jackson pummeling Theodore Peck — punching him in the face and body. Peck, 53, was on the bed in the fetal position. Jackson looked back, according to court documents, and warned Olson.

"You better get the f--- out," Jackson said, according to a deposition.

Olson did. He went back to his room with his wife and waited. When Jackson left, Olson said, he threatened to kill the couple. They wrote down a license plate number as Jackson, 35, drove off. Then they called 911.

That was May 24, 2011, and Jackson was eventually charged with second-degree murder. He turned himself in to authorities on May 29. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said Peck died from blunt force trauma, according to an arrest warrant. Jackson weighed about 80 pounds more than Peck, who was tall but thin. It appears the only weapon Jackson used, authorities said, was his fists. Jackson's arrest warrant said he and Peck argued that morning about money.

Jury selection in his trial began Monday. Jackson could face life in prison if convicted.

Olson is now deceased and his testimony, relayed through Pasco Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Smith in depositions, will not be heard by jurors.

According to court records, a woman named Adriane Lewka also witnessed the beating from outside the home. She will be a key witness for the state. Olson's wife may also take the stand.

That day in 2011, Deputy Smith was one of the first law enforcement officers to arrive.

Emergency workers tried to resuscitate Peck in an ambulance, but they could not. The Olsons gave Smith the piece of paper with the license plate number on it, and Steve Olson recounted the events to the officer.

Associates said Peck was kind and generous. He also had several brushes with the law and two stays in prison. The week before his death, Peck was charged with possession of oxycodone and drug paraphernalia, according to court records.

Jackson had previous arrests on charges of larceny, child abuse and a traffic violation, but he'd never been sentenced to prison in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Detective Jason Hatcher investigated the crime scene and said in a deposition that it was cluttered with drug paraphernalia and an unloaded shotgun was on the floor.

When Jackson's lawyer Hans Grieble questioned medical examiner Dr. Jon Thogmartin during a deposition recently, he asked about Peck's health. Thogmartin said Peck had issues, especially with his liver.

"Isn't it possible that the stress of the event could have caused a heart attack afterward?" Grieble asked.

"He did not have a heart attack per se," Thogmartin said, "but I think that his heart, his lungs, his liver definitely made him less able to survive this beating."

Thogmartin went on to say that Peck's body came back positive for a number of drugs, and that there was evidence he was an IV drug user.

Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis asked Thogmartin if the drugs contributed to his death.

"No. No. No.," Thogmartin said. "Certainly not to the degree that anything else did, that's for sure."

Comments
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didn’t leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You don’t even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what you’re talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

TAMPA — Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not win the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team. Don’t believe me? Ask Dungy. "It wasn’t. They did a great job. They took it and tweaked it," Dungy said. "The same way I got a great (Colts) tea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

Two days before her 94th birthday, Juanita Fitzgerald was arrested and hauled off to jail.The Eustis woman’s crime?She was being evicted and had fallen behind on her rent, WFTV 9 News reported. Instead of vacating her home at the National Church Resi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: Weekend brings sunny skies and warmer temperatures

Forecast: Weekend brings sunny skies and warmer temperatures

After a cold front across Tampa Bay, temperatures are on the rise this weekend, said WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey.href="http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2015/graphics/macros/css/base.css"> 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-ar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

Firefighters injured after early-morning blaze at Tampa strip mall

TAMPA — Three firefighters were injured early Saturday morning battling a fire at a W Waters Avenue strip mall, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.Firefighters said the two-alarm blaze appeared to come from a nail salon at the plaza on 2202 W Waters Ave....
Updated: 2 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch had won nine straight heading into Friday’s game against Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental lea...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Even with — perhaps especially with —Jon Gruden set to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor Monday night, Tampa Bay’s Great Sports Debate hasn’t abated. Who deserves more credit for the biggest moment in Tampa Bay sports history — the Bucs’ Super ...
Published: 12/16/17