Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial opens in Land O'Lakes woman's slaying

DADE CITY — The gunshot was loud enough to make Linda Brown break from her dish washing.

Even in the rural area near Ehren Cutoff where echoes of far-off gunfire from hunters is common, this stood out. She gazed into the pasture where her husband was working to make sure he was all right. He called to her as he walked toward the home.

"Boy, that was a loud shot," she remembered him saying.

He said it seemed to come from across Bahia Loop where Diane Yeager-Lombard, 51, lived with her daughter, Erica Wiggins. Brown picked up the phone and called over to the house, but no one answered.

The Browns were en route to church the next morning, May 4, 2008, when her husband remarked that Yeager-Lombard looked like she was on her front porch sunbathing.

"Little did we know," Brown told a Dade City courtroom Tuesday morning, "she was dead laying on her porch."

Tuesday marked the opening in the first-degree murder trial of Justo Arturo Moreno-Gonzalez, accused of shooting Yeager-Lombard in the head on May 3, 2008.

Prosecutors Manny Garcia and Stacey Sumner say Moreno-Gonzalez, then 45, had been working in Yeager-Lombard's neighborhood installing cable lines and offered to help spread dirt on her property. He developed an infatuation with Yeager-Lombard, which was rebuffed — a motive for the killing, authorities said. But detectives couldn't find him after the shooting and heard reports he had fled to Mexico. Soon after, Moreno-Gonzalez's truck was found abandoned at an El Tigre gas station in Texas.

Authorities found him 2 1/2 years later working as a soda vendor in the southern Mexican town of Melchor Ocampo. He was later extradited to Pasco County.

While Moreno-Gonzalez listened with the help of headphones and a Spanish interpreter, Erica Wiggins recalled how her mother called him only "Arturo." She said her mother grew wary of him the more he showed up — enough that Wiggins decided to intervene.

"You're making us uncomfortable," she remembered she told him. "You're scaring my mother. Please leave us alone."

He said "okay," and "spun off in his truck," Wiggins said.

Jose Soto, who lived on a nearby street, testified about finding Yeager-Lombard.

He was driving by and saw her on the porch, but something didn't look right. He called to her twice but got no response. He parked, walked up to the house until he saw the wound to her head. Then he ran to get help.

Wiggins dabbed her eyes while Sumner pulled that time of her life out in testimony. She was 20 and spent most of her time between college classes, work and her boyfriend's home. Yeager-Lombard would tease that her daughter used her home only as a flop house.

"I regret it now," Wiggins said, frowning. "I wish I had spent more time with her."

The trial continues today.

Trial opens in Land O'Lakes woman's slaying 05/06/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 7:55pm]
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.