DADE CITY — Cleo Stinyard was gunned down inside his mobile home off U.S. 301 in the early hours of June 12, 2009.
Authorities charged Anthony James Harris, a man who had been a confidential informer for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, with first-degree murder.
They say the killing was a drug robbery.
Harris' trial began Monday with two witnesses who testified that they had gone to Stinyard's home on Laura Lane in the hours before his death to buy drugs.
Kristel Wirebaugh went to the home first in the afternoon on June 11. She said Stinyard, 48, had drugs sitting on the table and he was counting out stacks of cash.
Wirebaugh said she returned that night and bought a small bag of powder cocaine. A man and a woman were there, and a black car was parked outside. Wirebaugh was in and out in five minutes.
Crystal Wynn testified that she went to Stinyard's home about 1 a.m. June 12 to buy marijuana. He told her he didn't have any and to call back in 30 minutes. She did, then drove back to his home. She knocked and called multiple times on her cell phone but got no answer. She said she drove to a convenience store for some chips and a beer, then returned. The TV was on and the screen door stood open, she said, but there was no sign of Stinyard.
Stinyard's body was found later that morning by his roommate.
Assistant State Attorney Stacey Sumner said the state will present one witness who was with Harris that night and saw him shoot Stinyard, and another witness whom Harris asked to hide a gun for him.
But Charles Lykes, Harris' attorney, said he'll present witnesses who will implicate other people in the killing. In addition, Lykes will present testimony from a DNA technician who tested samples found on Stinyard's body.
"They had Mr. Harris' DNA for comparison and did not find it to be there," Lykes said.
Stinyard had a lengthy arrest history. He spent a year in prison for aggravated battery in 1984. He was sentenced to 21/2 years for possessing cocaine in 1989 and another year in 1991. He was convicted of battery again in 2005.
In 2000, he was accused of exposing himself to a neighbor, then attacking police officers who responded to the call.
Harris, 24, was a witness last year in the trial of Luc Pierre-Charles, who was convicted of murdering two teenagers in Trilby. Harris testified that Pierre-Charles admitted the killings to him.
Harris' trial is expected to last until Wednesday. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6245.